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Title: Hammer and Anvil - A Novel
Author: Spielhagen, Friedrich, 1829-1911
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 "Hammer and Anvil - A Novel" ***

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Transcriber's Notes:

   1. Page scan source: http://www.archive.org/details/3626115

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



               BY COPYRIGHT ARRANGEMENT WITH THE AUTHOR.

                           *   *   *   *   *

                            _THE NOVELS OF_

                         FRIEDRICH SPIELHAGEN.

       _12mo, cloth, uniform in size and style, per vol._, $2.00.

                            JUST PUBLISHED.

     _I.--PROBLEMATIC CHARACTERS_.

           _II.--THROUGH NIGHT TO LIGHT_.

                 _III.--THE HOHENSTEINS_.

             The above translated by Prof. SCHELE DE VERE.

        _IV.--HAMMER AND ANVIL_.

                     Translated by WM. HAND BROWNE.

                               IN PRESS.

    _V.--IN RANK AND FILE_.

        _VI.--ROSE, AND THE VILLAGE COQUETTE_.


                           *   *   *   *   *


                           CRITICAL NOTICES.


"Such a novel as no English author with whom we are acquainted could
hare written, and no American author except Hawthorne. What separates
it from the multitude or American and English novels is the perfection
of its plot, and its author's insight into the souls of his
characters.... If Germany is poorer than England, as regards the number
of its novelists, it is richer when we consider the intellectual value
of their works. If it has not produced a Thackeray, or a Dickens, it
has produced, we venture to think, two writers who are equal to them in
genius, and superior to them in the depth and spirituality of their
art--Auerbach and Spielhagen."--_Putnam's Magazine_.

"The name is suggested by a passage In Goethe, which serves as a
motto to the book. Spielhagen means to illustrate what Goethe speaks
of--natures not In full possession of themselves, 'who are not equal to
any situation in life, and whom no situation satisfies'--the Hamlet of
our latest civilization. With these he deals in a poetic, ideal
fashion, yet also with humor, and, what is less to be expected in a
German, with sparkling, flashing wit, and a cynical vein that reminds
one of Heine. He has none of the tiresome detail of Auerbach, while he
lacks somewhat that excellent man's profound devotion to the moral
sentiment. There is more depth of passion and of thought in Spielhagen,
together with a French liveliness by no means common in German
novelists.... At any rate, they are vastly superior to the bulk of
English novels which are annually poured out upon us--as much
above Trollope's as Steinberger Cabinet is better than London
porter.--_Springfield Republican_.

"The reader lives among them (the characters) as he does among his
acquaintances, and may plead each one's case as plausibly to his own
judgment as he can those of the men whose mixed motives and actions he
sees around him. In other words, these characters live, they are men
and women, and the whole mystery of humanity is upon each of them. Has
no superior in German romance for its enthusiastic and lively
descriptions, and for the dignity and the tenderness with which its
leading characters are invested."--_New York Evening Post_.

"He strikes with a blow like a blacksmith, making the sparks fly and
the anvil ring. Terse, pointed, brilliant, rapid, and no dreamer, he
has the best traits of the French manner, while in earnestness and
fulness of matter he is thoroughly German. One sees, moreover, in his
pages, how powerful is the impression which America has of late been
making upon the mind of Europe."--_Boston Commonwealth_.

"The work is one of immense vigor; the characters are extraordinary,
yet not unnatural; the plot is the sequence of an admirably-sustained
web of incident and action. The portraitures of characteristic foibles
and peculiarities remind one much of the masterhand of the great
Thackeray. The author Spielhagen In Germany ranks very much as
Thackeray does with us, and many of his English reviewers place him at
the head and front of German novelists."--_Troy Daily Times_.

"His characters have, perhaps, more passion, and act their parts with
as much dramatic effect as those which have passed under the hand of
Auerbach."--_Cincinnati Chronicle_.



The N. Y. Times, of Oct. 23d, in a long Review of the above two works,
says: "The descriptions of nature and art, the portrayals of character
and emotion, are always striking and truthful. As one reads, there
grows upon him gradually the conviction that this is one of the
greatest of works of fiction.... No one, that is not a pure _egoiste_,
can read _Problematic Characters_ without profound and even solemn
interest. It is altogether a tragic work, the tragedy of the nineteenth
century--greater in its truth and earnestness, and absence of _Hugoese_
affectation, than any tragedy the century has produced. It stands far
above any of the productions of either _Freytag_ or _Auerbach_."

                           *   *   *   *   *

                    _LEYPOLDT & HOLT, Publishers_,

                                          25 BOND ST., NEW YORK.



                            HAMMER AND ANVIL


                               _A Novel_


                                   BY

                          FRIEDRICH SPIELHAGEN


                          _Author's Edition_.



                                NEW YORK
                            LEYPOLDT & HOLT
                             25 Bond Street
                                  1870.



                            HAMMER AND ANVIL


                                A NOVEL


                                   BY
                          FRIEDRICH SPIELHAGEN


                            FROM THE GERMAN
                                   BY
                          WILLIAM HAND BROWNE


                          _Author's Edition_.



                                NEW YORK
                            LEYPOLDT & HOLT
                             25 Bond Street
                                  1870.



       Entered according to Act of Congress, in the year 1870, by
                            LEYPOLDT & HOLT,
    In the Clerk's Office of the District Court of the United States
                 for the Southern District of New York.



STEREOTYPED BY                                 PRESS OF
DENNIS BRO'S & THORNE,              THE NEW YORK PRINTING COMPANY
AUBURN, N. Y.                       _81, 83, and 85 Centre Street_,
                                               NEW YORK



                           HAMMER AND ANVIL.


                              PART FIRST.



                               CHAPTER I.

We were standing in a deep recess at the open window of our class-room.
The sparrows were noisily chattering in the school-yard, and some
scattered rays of the late summer sun glanced past the old gray walls
down to the grass-grown pavement; from the class-room, which was
high-ceilinged, sunless, and ill-ventilated, came the buzzing sound of
repressed talk from our schoolfellows, who were all in their places,
bent over their Sophocles, and watching for the arrival of the "old
man," who was looked for every moment.

"At the worst, you can shuffle through somehow," I was saying, when the
door opened and he came in.

_He_--Professor Lederer, Provisory Director of the Gymnasium, and
Ordinarius of the first form,[1] "the old man," as we used to call
him--was in reality not exactly old, but a man past the middle of the
forties, whose small head, already turning gray, rested upon a stiff
white cravat, and whose tall and extraordinarily lean figure was
buttoned up, from one year's end to the other, summer and winter, in a
coat of the finest and glossiest black. His slender hands, of which he
took extreme care, with their long and tapering fingers--when twitching
nervously, as they had a habit of doing, close under my eyes--had
always a sort of fascination for me, and more than once I could
scarcely resist the temptation to seize one of those artistic-looking
hands and crush it in my own coarse brown fist.

Professor Lederer always paced the distance from the door to his desk
in twelve measured, dignified strides, head and eyes a little drooped,
with the austere look of intensest meditation; like a priest
approaching the sacrificial altar, or a Caesar entering the senate--at
all events like a being who, far removed from the modern plebeian
sphere, walked day by day in the light of the sun of Homer, and was
perfectly aware of the majestic fact. So it was never a judicious
proceeding to try to detain this classical man upon this short journey,
and in most cases a prohibitory gesture of his hand checked the
attempt; but the sanguine Arthur was so sure that his request would not
be refused, that he ventured it, reckless of further consequences. So,
stepping out in front of the professor, he asked for a holiday for the
day, which was Saturday.

"Certainly not," said the professor.

"To go sailing," urged Arthur, not in the least deterred by the
stern tone of the professor, for my friend Arthur was not easily
abashed--"to go in my uncle's steamboat to examine the oyster-beds
which my uncle planted two years ago. I have a note from my father, you
know, professor," and he produced the credential in question.

"Certainly not!" repeated the professor. His pale face flushed a little
with irritation; his white hand, from which he had drawn his black
glove, was extended towards Arthur with a classical minatory gesture;
his blue eyes deepened in hue, like the sea when a cloud-shadow passes
over it.

"Certainly not!" he exclaimed for the third time, strode past Arthur to
his desk, and after silently folding his white hands, explained that he
was too much excited to begin with the customary prayers. And presently
followed a stammering philippic--the professor always stammered when
irritated--against that pest of youth, worldliness and hankering after
pleasure, which chiefly infected precisely those upon whom rested the
smallest portion of the spirit of Apollo and Pallas Athené. "He was a
mild and humane man," he said, "and well mindful of the words of the
poet, that it was well to lay seriousness aside at the proper time and
place; ay, even at times to quaff the wine-cup and move the feet
in the dance; but then the cause should be sufficient to justify the
license--a Virgil must have returned from a far-off land, or a
Cleopatra have freed the people from imminent peril by her voluntary,
yet involuntary death. But how could any one who notoriously was one of
the worst scholars--yes, might be styled absolutely the worst, unless
one other"--here the professor gave a side-glance at me--"could claim
this evil pre-eminence--how could such a one dare to clutch at a
garland which should only encircle a brow dripping with the sweat of
industry! Was he, the speaker, too strict? He thought not. Assuredly,
no one could wish it more earnestly than he, and no one would rejoice
more heartily than he, if the subject of his severe rebuke would even
now give the proof of his innocence by translating without an error the
glorious chorus of the _Antigone_, which was the theme of the morning's
lecture. Von Zehren, commence!"

Poor Arthur! I still see, after the lapse of so many years, his
beautiful, but even then somewhat worn face, striving in vain to hold
fast upon its lips the smile of aristocratic indifference with which he
had listened to the professor's rebuke, as he took the book and read,
not too fluently, a verse or two of the Greek. Even in this short
reading the scornful smile gradually faded, and he glanced from under
his dropped lids a look of beseeching perplexity towards his neighbor
and Pylades. But how was it possible for me to help him; and who knew
better than he how impossible it was? So the inevitable came to pass.
He turned the "shaft of Helios" into a "shield of Æolus," and blundered
on in pitiable confusion. The others announced their better knowledge
by peals of laughter, and a grim smile of triumph over his discomfiture
even played over the grave features of the professor.

"The curs!" muttered Arthur with white lips, as he took his seat after
the recitation had lasted a couple of minutes. "But why did you not
prompt me?"

I had no time to answer this idle question, for it was now my turn. But
I had no notion of making sport for my comrades by submitting to be
classically racked; so I declared that I was even less prepared than my
friend, and added that I trusted this testimony would corroborate the
charge that the professor had been pleased to bring against me.

I accompanied these words with a threatening look at the others, which
at once checked their mirth; and the professor, either thinking he had
gone far enough, or not deigning to notice my insolent speech, turned
away with a shrug of the shoulders, and contented himself with treating
us with silent contempt for the rest of the recitation, while towards
the others he was unusually amiable, enlivening the lesson by sallies
of the most classical and learned wit.

No sooner had the door closed behind him, than Arthur stood up before
the first form and said:

"You fellows have behaved meanly again, as you always do; but as for
me, I have no notion of staying here any longer. The old man will not
be back any more to-day; and if the others ask for me, say I am sick."

"And for me too," cried I, stepping up to Arthur and laying my arm on
his shoulder. "I am going with him. A fellow that deserts his friend is
a sneak."

A moment later we had dropped from the window twelve feet into the
yard, and crouching between two buttresses that the professor might not
espy us as he went out, we consulted what was next to be done.

There were two ways of getting out of the closed court in which we now
were: either to slip through the long crooked corridors of the
gymnasium--an old monastery--and so out into the street; or to go
directly through the professor's house, which joined the yard at one
corner, and thence upon the promenade, which nearly surrounded the
town, and had in fact been constructed out of the old demolished
town-walls. The first course was hazardous, for it often happened that
a pair of teachers would walk up and down the cool corridors in
conversation long after the regular time for the commencement of the
lessons, and we had no minute to lose in waiting. The other was still
more dangerous, for it led right through the lion's den; but it was far
shorter, and practicable every moment, so we decided to venture it.

Creeping close to the wall, right under the windows of our class-room,
in which the second lesson had already begun, we reached the narrow
gate that opened into the little yard of the professor's house. Here
all was quiet; through the open door we could see into the wide hall
paved with slabs of stone, where the professor, who had just returned,
was playing with his youngest boy, a handsome black-haired little
fellow of six years, chasing him with long strides, and clapping his
white hands. The child laughed and shouted, and at one time ran out
into the yard, directly towards where we were hidden behind a pile of
firewood--two more steps of the little feet, and we should have been
detected.

I have often thought, since that time, that on those two little steps,
in reality, depended nothing less than the whole destiny of my life. If
the child had discovered us, we had only to come forward from behind
the wood-pile, which every one had to pass in going from the gymnasium
to the director's house, as two scholars on their way to their teacher
to ask his pardon for their misbehavior. At least Arthur confessed to
me that this idea flashed into his mind as the child came towards us.
Then there would have been another reprimand, but in a milder tone, for
the professor was a kind man at the bottom of his heart; we should have
gone back to the class-room, pretended to our schoolmates that our
running away was only a joke, and--well, I do not know what would have
happened then; certainly not what really did happen.

But the little trotting feet did not come to us; the father, following
with long strides, caught the child and tossed it in the air till the
black curls glistened in the sunshine, and then carried it back,
caressing it, to the house, where Mrs. Professor now appeared at the
door, with her hair in papers, and a white apron on; and then father,
mother, and child disappeared. Through the open door we could see that
the hall was empty--now or never was the time.

With beating hearts, such as only beat in the breasts of school-boys
bent on some dangerous prank, we stole to the door through the silent
hall where the motes were sparkling in the sunbeams that slanted
through the gothic windows. As we opened the house-door, the bell gave
a clear note of warning; but even now the leafy trees of the promenade
were beckoning to us; in half a minute we were concealed by the thick
bushes, and hastening with rapid steps, that now and then quickened to
a half run, towards the port.

"What will you say to your father?" I asked.

"Nothing at all, because he will ask no questions," Arthur replied; "or
if he does, I will say that I was let off; what else? It will be
capital; I shall have splendid fun."

We kept on for a while in silence. For the first time it occurred to me
that I had run away from school for just nothing at all. If Arthur came
in for a couple of days in the dungeon, he, at all events, would have
had "splendid fun," and thus, for him at least, there was some show of
reason in the thing. His parents, too, were very indulgent; his share
of the danger was as good as none, while I ran all the risk of
discovery and punishment without the least compensation; and my stern
old father was a man who understood no trifling, least of all in
matters of this sort. So once again, as many times before, I had helped
to pull the chestnuts out of the fire for somebody else. However, what
did it matter? Here, under the rustling trees, after our brisk race, it
was more pleasant than in the stifling class-room; and for me, in those
times, every silly, venturesome frolic had a pleasure in itself. So I
felt it a special piece of magnanimity on the part of my usually
selfish friend, when he suddenly said:

"Look here, George, you shall come too. Uncle charged me particularly
to bring as many friends as I could. I tell you it will be splendid.
Elise Kohl and Emilie Heckepfennig are going with us. For once I shall
leave Emilie to you. And then the oysters, and the champagne, and the
pineapple punch--yes, you certainly must come."

"And my father?" I said; but I only said it, for my resolution to be
one of the party was already taken. Emilie Heckepfennig--Emilie, with
her little turned-up nose and laughing eyes, who had always shown me a
decided preference; and recently, at forfeits, had given me a hearty
kiss, to which she was in no wise bound, and whom Arthur, the coxcomb,
was going to leave especially to me! Yes, I must go along, happen what
might.

"Can I go as I am, do you think?" I asked, suddenly halting, with a
glance at my dress, which was plain and neat, it is true--I was always
neat--but not exactly the thing for company.

"Why not?" said Arthur. "What difference does it make? And, besides, we
have not a minute to spare."

Arthur, who was in his best clothes, had not looked at me, nor
slackened his pace in the least. We had not a minute to spare, that was
true enough, for as slipping through some narrow alleys we reached the
harbor, we heard the bell ringing on board the steamer that was lying
at the wharf just ready to start. The sturdy figure of the captain was
seen standing upon the paddle-box. We pushed through the crowd on the
wharf, ran up the gang-plank, which they were just hauling in, and
mingled with the gay throng on deck, as the wheels began to turn.



                              CHAPTER II.


"How you startled me!" said Frau von Zehren, seizing her son by both
hands. "We began to think, what was really impossible, that Professor
Lederer had refused you permission. You see now, Zehren, that I was
right."

"Well, it is all right now," replied the steuerrath.[2] "The young
ladies were inconsolable at the prospect of your absence Arthur--or am
I saying too much, Fräulein Emilie and Fräulein Elise?" and the
steuerrath turned with a polite wave of his hand to the young ladies,
who tittered and nodded their dark broad-brimmed straw-hats at each
other.

"And now you must speak to your uncle," he went on; "but where is your
uncle, then?" and he ran his eye over the company that was moving about
the deck.

The Commerzienrath Streber came bouncing up. His little, light-blue
eyes glittered under bushy gray brows, the long peak of his
old-fashioned cap was pushed back from his bald forehead, the left
sleeve of his loose blue frock-coat, with gold buttons, had slipped
half off his shoulder, as he hurried along on his little legs, cased in
yellow nankeen trousers:

"Where has that rascal John put the----?"

"Allow me, brother-in-law, to present my Arthur----."

"Very good," cried the commerzienrath, without even giving a look at
the presentee. "Aha! there the villain is!" and he made a dart at his
servant, who was just coming up the companion-way with a tray of
glasses.

The steuerrath and his lady exchanged a look, in which "the old brute,"
or some similarly flattering expression, was plainly legible. Arthur
had joined the young ladies and said something at which they burst out
laughing and rapped him with their parasols; I, whom nobody seemed to
notice, turned away and went on the more quiet forward deck, where I
found a seat upon a coil of rope, and leaning my back against the
capstan, looked out upon the bright sky and the bright sea.

In the meantime the boat had left the harbor, and was moving down with
the coast on our larboard, where the red roofs of the fishermen's
cottages shone through the trees and bushes; while on the narrow strip
of level beach here and there figures were seen, seafaring folks
probably, or sea-bathers, who were watching the steamer go by. To our
right the shore receded, so that it was only just possible to
distinguish it from the water; before us, but at a still more remote
distance, gleamed the chalk-coast of the neighboring island over the
blue expanse of sea, which now began to roughen a little under a
fresher breeze, while countless flocks of seabirds now flew up from the
approach of the puffing steamer, and now, with their cunning heads
turned towards us, sported on the waves and filled the air with their
monotonous cries.

It was a bright and lovely morning; but though I saw its beauty, it
gave me no pleasure. I felt singularly dejected. Had the _Penguin_
that, with a sluggishness altogether at variance with her name, was
slowly toiling through the water, been a beautiful swift clipper, bound
for China or Buenos Ayres, or somewhere thousands of miles away, and I
a passenger with a great purse of gold, or even a sailor before the
mast, with the assurance that I should never again set eyes on the
hateful steeples of my native town, I should have been light-hearted
enough. But now! what was it then that made me so low-spirited? The
consciousness of my disobedience? Dread of the disagreeable
consequences, now, to all human foresight, inevitable? Nothing of the
sort. The worst could only be that my stern father would drive me from
his house, as he had already often enough threatened to do; and this
possibility I regarded as a deliverance from a yoke which seemed to
grow more intolerable every day; and as the idea arose in my mind, I
welcomed it with a smile of grim satisfaction. No, it was not that.
What then?

Well, to have run away from school with an ardor as if some glorious
prize was to be won, and then, in a merry company, on the deck of a
steamboat, to sit away by myself on a coil of rope, not one of the
gentlemen or ladies taking the slightest notice of me, and with not
even the prospect that the waiter, with the caviar-rolls and port wine,
would at last come round to me! This last neglect, to tell the honest
truth, for the moment afflicted me most sorely of all. My appetite, as
was natural for a robust youth of nineteen, was always of the best,
and now by the brisk run from school to the harbor and the fresh
sea-breeze, it was sharpened to a distressing keenness.

I stood up in a paroxysm of impatience, but quickly sat down again. No,
Arthur certainly would come and take me to the company; it was the
least that he owed me, after I had been so obliging as to run away
with him. As if he had ever yet paid me what he owed me! How many
fishing-rods, canary birds, shells, fifes, pocket-knives, had he not
already bought of me, that is, coaxed and worried me out of, without
ever paying me for them. Ay, how often had he not borrowed my slender
stock of pocket-money, whenever the amount made it worth his while; for
which sometimes even a couple of _silbergroschen_ sufficed.

Curious, that just now, on this bright sunny morning, I should take to
reckoning up this black account! It was certainly the first time since
the beginning of our friendship, which dated at least from our sixth
year. For I had always loved the handsome slender boy, who had such
sunny hair and gentle brown eyes, and whose velvet Sunday jacket felt
so soft to the touch. I had loved him as a great rough mastiff might
love a delicate greyhound that he could crush with one snap of his
jaws; and so I loved him even now, while he was flirting with the
girls, and chattering and laughing with the company like the _petit
maître_ he was.

I grew very melancholy as I watched all this from my place, where
nobody could see me--very melancholy and altogether disspirited. I must
have been very hungry.

We were now just rounding a long headland, which ran out from the
western coast. At its farthest low extremity, in a spot entirely
surrounded by water, separated by a wide interval from the row of
houses on the dune, and shadowed by a half-decayed oak, stood a
cottage, the sight of which called into my mind a flood of pleasant
memories. The old blacksmith, Pinnow, lived there, the father of my
friend Klaus Pinnow. Smith Pinnow was by far the most remarkable
personage of all my acquaintance. He possessed four old double-barreled
percussion guns, and a long single-barreled fowling-piece with a flint
lock, which he used to hire to the bathers when they took a fancy to
have a little shooting, and sometimes to us youngsters when we were in
funds, for Smith Pinnow was not in the habit of conferring gratuitous
favors. He had, besides, a great sail-boat, also kept for the bathing
company, at least of late years, since he had grown half blind and
could not venture longer trips. The rumor ran that formerly he used to
make very different voyages, of by no means so innocent a character;
and the excise officers, my father's colleagues (my father had lately
been promoted to an accountantship) shook their heads when Smith
Pinnow's by-gone doings happened to be referred to. But what was that
to us youngsters? Especially, what was it to me, who owed the happiest
hours of my life to the four rusty guns, and the fowling-piece, and
Smith Pinnow's old boat, and who had had the best comrade in the world
in Klaus Pinnow? Had had, I say, for during the last four years, while
Klaus was an apprentice to the locksmith Wangerow, and afterwards when
he became a journeyman, I had seen him but seldom, and, indeed, for the
last half year not at all.

He came at once into my mind as we steamed past his father's cottage,
and I perceived a figure standing on the sands by the side of the boat
which was drawn up on the beach. The distance was great, but my keen
eyes recognized Christel Möwe, Klaus's adopted sister, whom sixteen
years before, old Pinnow's wife--long since dead--had found the morning
after a storm, lying on the beach among the boxes and planks driven
ashore from a wreck, and whom the old blacksmith, in an unwonted
impulse of generosity, as some said, or to raise his credit with the
neighbors, according to others, had taken into his house. The wreck was
a Dutch ship from Java, as they made out from some of the things cast
ashore; but her name and owners were never discovered--probably from
the negligence of the officials charged with the investigations--and
they named the little foundling Christina, or Christel, Möwe [_Gull_],
because the screams of a flock of gulls in the air had attracted
Goodwife Pinnow to the spot where the child was lying.

A noise close at hand caused me to look round. Two paces from me a
hatchway was opened, and out of the hatchway emerged the figure of a
man who was standing on the ladder, but whose head rose high enough
above the deck to allow him to see over the low bulwarks. His short
stiff hair, his broad face, his bare muscular neck, his breast open
almost to the belt, his shirt which had once been striped with red, and
his trousers which had once been white--were all covered with a thick
black deposit of coal-dust; and as he was blinking with his small eyes
almost shut in order to see more keenly some distant object, he would
have presented an unbroken surface of blackness, had he not at this
moment expanded an immense mouth into a joyous grin, and displayed two
rows of teeth of unsurpassed whiteness. And now he raised himself a few
inches higher, waved his great black hand as a greeting towards the
beach, and all at once I recognized him.

"Klaus!" I called out.

"Hallo!" he cried, starting, and quickly bringing his small eyes to
bear upon me.

"That was a mighty affectionate salute of yours, Klaus."

Klaus blushed visibly through his rind of soot, and showed all his
teeth. "Why, in the name of ----, George," cried he, "where do you come
from, and what has brought you here?"

"And what has brought you here?"

"I have been here ever since Easter. I have had it in my mind for some
time to come to see you and inquire after your health."

"You foolish fellow, why do you put on that respectful tone with me?"

"Oh, you belong to the great folks now," replied Klaus, jerking his
thumb over his shoulder in the direction of the quarter-deck.

"I wish I were below with you, and you would give me a good thick slice
of bread and butter. Hang the great folks, as you call them."

Klaus looked at me in astonishment.

"Well, but why in the world----" he began.

"Why am I here? Is that what you mean? Why, because I am a fool and an
ass."

"Oh, no," remonstrated Klaus.

"Yes, I am--a complete ass. I wish all my friends were as good as you
are, Klaus." Here I gave a glance towards the perfidious Arthur, who
was strutting about among the guests with the parasol of the perfidious
Emilie, while she had set his little straw-hat in a coquettish fashion
on her curls.

"I am wanted below," said Klaus, with a friendly grin; "Good-by." And
down the ladder he went.

"Was that a chimney-sweep?" asked a clear voice behind me.

I turned hastily round, rising from my seat. There stood a charming
little lady of eight, in a little white frock with ribbons of
cornflower blue at the shoulders and streaming from her straw-hat,
whose great cornflower blue eyes first stared with intense curiosity at
the hatchway through which my black friend had vanished, and then
turned inquiringly to me.

At this moment the hatch was raised again, and Klaus's head
emerged--"Shall I really get you a slice?"

"Oh, mercy!" cried the little lady. Klaus vanished instantaneously, and
the hatch shut down with a bang.

"Oh, mercy!" cried the little maid again. "How it frightened me!"

"What frightened you, _ma chère_!" asked another voice. The voice was
extremely thin, and so was the lady to whom it belonged, and who had
just come out of the deck-cabin. So also was the worn dress of
changeable silk that fluttered about her figure, and the reddish locks
that drooped on each side of her pale face.

This lady was Fräulein Amalie Duff, and the little maid with the
cornflower eyes and ribbons was her pupil, Hermine Streber, the
commerzienrath's only child. Of course I knew them both, as indeed I
was pretty well acquainted with everybody in our little town, as soon
as they were out of long-clothes; and they might well have known me,
for I had been two or three times with Arthur in his uncle's large
garden at the town-gate, and a fortnight before had even had the honor
to swing the little Hermine in the great wooden swing, from which, if
you swung high enough, you could catch a sight of the sea through the
tops of the trees. Fräulein Duff, moreover, was a native of the little
Saxon town which was the birthplace of my parents; and when she
arrived, some months before, she brought various messages and greetings
from the old home, which unhappily came too late for my good mother,
who had been resting in the churchyard for fifteen years. She had
frequently condescended indeed no longer ago than the afternoon of the
swinging to bestow her instructive conversation upon me; but she was
very near-sighted, and I could not take it amiss that she applied her
gold double eye-glass to her pale eyes, and with a sweeping reverence,
which in the dancing-school is called, I believe, _grand compliment_,
inquired: "Whom have I the honor to----?"

I introduced myself.



                              CHAPTER II.


"O ciel!" cried Fräulein Duff, "_mon jeune compatriote!_ A thousand
pardons!--my near-sightedness! How is your respected father, and your
amiable mother? Dear me! how confused I am! But your sudden appearance
in this retired corner of the world has quite unnerved me. I was about
to say--the company are asking for you. How did you manage to elude
observation?--they are looking for you everywhere."

"Yet I might have been found easily enough," I said, probably with a
touch of wounded pride in the tone, which did not escape the quick ear
of Fräulein Duff.

"Ah, yes," she said, conveying a look of intelligence into her pale
eyes. "'Who solace seeks in solitude'--alas! too true.

          "'For gold all are longing,
            Round gold all are thronging--'"

"Not so wild, _ma chère_! The dreadful creature will tear your dress!"

These last words were addressed to the little Hermine, who had begun to
romp on the smooth deck with a pretty little spaniel that had run to
her barking and jumping.

"You have a feeling heart," continued the governess, turning again to
me; "I see it in the pained expression of your mouth. Your soul shrinks
from noisy joys; this boisterous merriment is odious to you. But we
poor ones must submit to the inevitable--or I, at least must. Would I
be here if it were not so? Upon this tossing bark, in terror for my
life? And all for what purpose? to assist at a cannibal feast! Innocent
oysters, which men tear from the maternal bosom of the sea to devour
alive! Is that a fit spectacle to be exhibited to a child?" and
Fräulein Duff shook her thin locks with an expression of the deepest
solicitude.

"It remains yet to be seen whether we shall find any," I said, with
something like a sneer.

"Do you think so? The other gentlemen doubt it, too. The water of the
Baltic is not salt enough. True, we are informed that the Romans
propagated them in fresh-water lakes near Naples--but why parade my
modest bit of learning before a young scholar like yourself? The good
commerzienrath! Yes, yes; despise reason and learning who will!--but
here he comes himself. Not a word of what we have been saying, my young
friend, I beseech you!"

I had no time to assure the pale lady of my discretion, for nearly the
whole company came crowding on the forward-deck, in the wake of the
commerzienrath, who had the fat Mrs. Justizrath Heckepfennig upon his
arm, to look at a three-master that was just passing us under full
sail. In the next moment I was in the midst of the crowd, and the ice,
in which I had been sitting, so to speak, was broken. Arthur, whose
delicate face was already flushed by the wine he had been drinking,
clapped me on the shoulder and asked where upon earth I had been
hiding. The perfidious Emilie held out her hand and murmured: "Had you
then entirely forgotten me?" and--as just at that moment a salute was
fired from some small mortars on board the steamer--fell, with a little
scream, into my arms. The three-master, that was just returning from
the West Indies, belonged to the commerzienrath's fleet. They knew that
she would arrive to-day; and it was by no means disagreeable to the
commerzienrath to be able to carry his guests, on their way to his
oyster-beds, past the finest of his ships. He mounted the paddle-box,
speaking-trumpet in hand, and roared, at the pitch of his lungs,
something which, amid the universal hurrahing and the explosions of the
mortars, was perfectly inaudible to the bronzed captain of the ship,
who shrugged his broad shoulders as a sign that he could not catch a
word of it all. What difference did it make? It was a splendid sight;
and the commerzienrath upon the paddle-box, trumpet in hand, was the
chief figure in it. That was enough for him; and as the _Albatros_ with
her wide wings swept by, and the short legs of the _Penguin_ began to
paddle again, and he descended from his pedestal to receive the
congratulations of the company, his little clear eyes sparkled, his
nostrils expanded, and his loud laugh rang like the crowing of a cock,
exulting in the proud consciousness that he is the master of the
dunghill.

The rest of the poultry freely acknowledged this superiority: there was
cackling and clucking, bowing and scraping, and no one more obsequious
than Arthur's father, the steuerrath, who kept constantly at the side
of the great man, saying, in his smooth voice, flatteries, which the
other received as a matter of course--something to which he was well
accustomed, especially from that quarter--with an indifference which to
most others would have been insulting. It is quite possible that
the steuerrath did not find this behavior on the part of his rich
brother-in-law altogether pleasant, but he was too much a man of the
world to give any outward sign of his inward emotions. But his spouse
was not quite so successful in her self-command, who, as born Baroness
Kippenreiter, had an unquestionable claim to respectful attention, and
a right to be dissatisfied if this were withheld. So she sought to
indemnify herself for the humiliation by the extremest possible
condescension of manner towards the other ladies, Mrs. Burgomaster
Koch, Mrs. Justizrath Heckepfennig, Mrs. Bauinspector Strombach, and
the rest of the feminine _élite_ of our little town, though even this
satisfaction could not roll away the clouds from her aristocratic brow.

I had hardly begun to feel at ease in the company, which happened
quickly enough, when my natural vivacity, which bordered on rudeness,
returned and impelled me to a hundred pranks, which were decidedly not
in the best taste, though certainly not instigated by any intention to
offend, and which I carried on all the more recklessly, as I perceived
I had all the laughers on my side. I could blush with shame even now,
when I think of my shallow attempts at wit, and how poor in invention
and clumsy in execution were the comic imitations to which I must needs
treat my respectable audience, because forsooth I had a sort of
celebrity in the town for this sort of thing, (my masterpiece, I
remember, was a lover bent on regaling his mistress with a serenade,
and incessantly disturbed by barking dogs, mewing cats, scolding
neighbors, and malicious passers-by, and finally taken up by the
watch,) what foolish flippancy and want of tact in the speeches that I
made at the table, and with how many glasses of wine I repaid myself
for all my ridiculous exertions.

And yet this lunch under an awning on deck of the steamer that was now
anchored in the calm, smooth sea, was the last real merry-making that I
was to have for many long years. I do not know if it was this that
keeps it so bright in my memory, or rather the youth that then glowed
in my veins, the wine that sparkled in the glasses, the bright sunshine
that glistened on the sea, and the sweet air that swept so softly over
the water that it did not suffice to cool the flushed cheeks of the
maidens. It was rather all together--youth, sunlight, sea-breeze,
golden wine, rosy cheeks; and ah! the oysters, the unlucky oysters,
that had had two years in which to multiply like the sand of the sea,
and which the sea-sand and sea-currents had buried and swept away, all
to a few empty shells! What an inexhaustible theme were these empty
shells, displayed with humorous ostentation in a splendid dish in the
centre of the table! how every one tried his wit on them, and what a
malicious joy each felt that the millionaire's obstinate conceit had
had a lesson, and that not all his millions could extort from nature
what she had determined to refuse!

But the old fellow bore it all with the utmost good-humor; and after he
had bewailed his ill-luck in a humorous speech, suddenly a loud clamor
arose on the forward-deck, and the sailors dragged forward great
barrels of oysters, which they declared they had just taken up. Then
there was no end to the exultation and cheers to our magnificent host,
who once more had shown that his sagacity and foresight were even
greater than his conceit and his obstinacy.

I do not know how late the feast was protracted, while the ladies
promenaded the deck; it was certainly kept up far too long for us
youngsters. Very queer stories were told, in which the commerzienrath
particularly distinguished himself; we laughed, we shouted--I must
volunteer songs, which were received with storms of applause, and I was
not a little vain as my powerful bass drew even the ladies to the table
again, and did my best, when both ladies and gentlemen joined in unison
in the glee, "What it means I cannot tell," to carry through a second
voice (in thirds), keeping my eye all the while on Fräulein Emilie--an
attention which naturally set the other young ladies to giggling and
nudging each other, and occasioned Arthur such pangs of jealousy, that
afterwards, as we were walking up and down the deck, with our cigars,
he called me to account for it.

By this time it was evening, for I remember that, while talking with
Arthur, I noticed on the coast of the island, which we had neared on
our return, an old ruin, standing picturesquely on a high and steep
cliff, and glowing in the light of the setting sun. The sight of this
ruin gave an unpleasant turn to our discussion, which had already grown
sharp. This tower happened to be the sole remnant of the ancient
Zehrenburg, the ancestral seat of Arthur's family, which, in former
times, had enjoyed large possessions on the island. Arthur pointed with
a pathetic gesture to the ruddy walls, and demanded that I, here and
now, with my eye upon the castle of his ancestors, should renounce
forever all pretensions to Emilie Heckepfennig. "A plebeian like
myself," he said, "was in duty bound to give way to a patrician." I
maintained that there were no such things as plebeians or patricians in
affairs of the heart, and that I would never consent to a pledge which
would entail perpetual wretchedness on both Emilie and myself.

"Slave!" cried Arthur, "is it thus that you repay me for the
condescension that has so long tolerated your society?"

I laughed aloud, and my laughter still further exasperated Arthur's
drunken passion.

"My father is Steuerrath von Zehren," he cried, "and yours a miserable
subaltern."

"Let us leave our fathers out of the question, Arthur; you know I will
not endure any insult to mine."

"Your father----"

"Once more I warn you, Arthur, leave my father's name alone. My father,
at the very least, is as good as yours. And if you say another word
about my father, I'll fling you overboard," and I shook my fist in
Arthur's face.

"What's the matter here?" asked the steuerrath, who suddenly appeared.
"How, young man, is this the respect that you owe to my son--that you
owe to me? It appears that you are disposed to add the crown to your
disgraceful behavior all day. My son has invited you into his company
for the last time."

"Invited me, indeed!" I said. "We ran away, both of us!"--and I burst
into a shout of laughter that quite justified the steuerrath's
qualification of my behavior.

"How!" he exclaimed. "Arthur, what does this mean?"

But Arthur was not in condition to give an intelligible answer. He
stammered out something, and rushed toward me, apparently with the
intention of striking me, but his father caught his arm and led him
away, speaking very earnestly to him in a low tone, and as he went he
threw a furious look at me.

My blood, already excited, was now boiling in my veins. The next thing
I remember I was walking arm-in-arm with the commerzienrath--I have
never been able to understand how I did it--and passionately
complaining to him of the crying outrage I had received from my best
friend, for whom I was at all times ready to sacrifice fortune and
blood. The commerzienrath seemed as if he would die with laughing.
"Fortune and blood!" he cried; "as for the fortune"--here he shrugged
his shoulders and blew out his cheeks--"and as for the blood"--here he
nudged me with his elbow in the side. "Full blood, capital blood, of
course. I have had one of the breed myself; a Kippenreiter! Baroness
Kippenreiter! My Hermann, at all events, is of the half blood. There
she runs; is she not an angel? Pity she was not a boy: that's the
reason I always call her Hermann. Hermann! Hermann!"

The little maid came running: she had on a red scarf, which her father,
after kissing her, wrapped closer around her delicate shoulders.

"Is she not an angel--a pride?" he went on taking my arm again. "She
shall have a count for a husband; not a poor, penniless sprig of
nobility, like my brother-in-law, nor like his drunken brother at
Zehrendorf, nor the other, that sneaking fellow, the penitentiary
superintendent at What-d'ye-call-it. No, a real count, a fellow six
feet high, just like you, my boy, just like you!"

The short commerzienrath tried to lay his two fat hands upon my
shoulders, and tipsy emotion blinked in his eyes.

"You are a capital fellow, a splendid fellow. Pity you are such a poor
devil; you should be my son-in-law. But I must call you _thou_: thou
mayst say _thou_ to me, too, brother!" and the worthy man sobbed upon
my breast and called for champagne, apparently with a view of solemnly
ratifying the bond, of brotherhood after the ancient fashion.

I have my doubts whether he carried this design into effect: at all
events I remember nothing of the ceremony, which could scarcely have
escaped my memory. But I remember that not long after I was in the
engine-room with a bottle of wine, hobnobbing with my friend Klaus, and
swearing that he was the best and truest fellow in the world, and that
I would appoint him head-stoker in hell as soon as I got there, which
would not be long coming as I must have a settlement with father this
evening, and that I would let myself be torn in pieces for him at any
time, and that I would be glad if it were done right at once, and that
if the great black fellow there did not stop swinging his long iron arm
up and down I would lay my head under it, and there would be an end of
George Hartwig.

How the good Klaus brought me out of this suicidal frame of mind, and
how he got me up the ladder again, I cannot say; it must have been
managed somehow, for as we steamed into the harbor I was sitting on
deck, watching the masts of the anchored ships glide past us, and the
stars glittering through the spars and cordage. The crescent moon that
was standing over the spire of the church of St Nicholas seemed
suddenly to drop behind it, but it was I that dropped, as the _Penguin_
struck the timbers of the wharf, on which there was again assembled a
crowd of people, not hurrahing, however, as when we started, but, as it
seemed to me, strangely silent; and, as I made my way through them,
staring at me I thought in a singular manner, so that I felt as if
something terrible must have happened, or was on the point of
happening, and that I was in some mysterious way the cause of it.

I stood before my father's small house in the narrow Water street. A
light was glimmering through the closed shutters of the room to the
left of the front door, by which I knew that my father was at home--he
usually took a solitary walk around the town-wall at this hour. Could
it be so very late, then? I took out my watch and tried to make out the
time by the moonlight--for the street-lamps were never lighted in
Uselin on moonlight nights--but could not succeed. No matter, I said to
myself, it is all one! and grasped resolutely the brass knob of the
front door. To my feverish hand it felt cold as ice.



                              CHAPTER III.


As I closed the door behind me, old Frederica, who, since my mother's
death, had been housekeeper for my father, came suddenly out of the
small room on the right. By the light of a lamp burning dimly on the
hall-table I saw the good old woman throw up her hands and stare at me
with wide, frightened eyes. "Has anything happened to my father?" I
stammered, seizing the table to support myself What with the warm
atmosphere of the house after the fresh night-air, and my alarm at
Frederica's terrified looks, my breath failed me, the blood seemed to
rush to my head, and the room began to go round.

"Wretched boy, what have you done?" piteously exclaimed the old woman.

"In heaven's name, what has happened?" I cried, seizing her by both
hands.

Here my father opened the door of his room and appeared upon the
threshold. Being a large man and the door small, he nearly filled up
the doorway.

"Thank God!" I murmured to myself.

At this moment I experienced no other feeling than that of joyful
relief from the anxiety which seemed on the point of suffocating me; in
the next, this natural emotion gave way to another, and we glared at
each other like two foes who suddenly meet, after one has long been
seeking the other, and the other nerves himself for the result, be it
what it may, from which he now sees there is no escape.

"Come in," said my father, making way for me to pass into his room.

I obeyed: there was a humming noise in my ears, but my step was firm;
and if my heart beat violently in my breast, it was certainly not with
fear.

As I entered, a tall black figure slowly rose from my father's large
study-chair---my father allowed no sofa in his house--it was Professor
Lederer. I stood near the door, my father to the right, by the stove,
the professor at the writing-table in front of the lamp, so that his
shadow reached from the ceiling to the floor, and fell directly upon
me. No one moved or spoke; the professor wished to leave the first word
to my father, and my father was under too much excitement to speak. In
this way we stood for about half a minute, which seemed to me an
eternity, and during which the certainty flashed into my mind that if
the professor did not immediately leave the room and the house, all
possible chance of an explanation between my father and myself was cut
off.

"Misguided young man," at last began the professor.

"Leave me alone with my father, Herr Professor," I interrupted him.

The professor looked at me as if he could not believe his ears. A
delinquent, a criminal--for such I was in his eyes--to dare to
interrupt his judge in such a tone, and with such a request--it was
impossible.

"Young man," he began again, but his tone was not as assured as the
first time.

"I tell you, leave us alone together," I cried with a louder voice, and
making a motion towards him.

"He is mad," said the professor, taking a hasty step backwards, which
brought him in contact with the table.

"Sirrah!" exclaimed my father, stepping quickly forward, as if to
protect the professor from my violence.

"If I am mad," I said, turning my burning eyes from one to the other,
"so much the greater reason for leaving us alone."

The professor looked round for his hat, which stood behind him on the
table.

"No; remain, remain," said my father, his voice quivering with passion.
"Is this audacious boy again to have his insolent way? I have too long
been culpably negligent; it is high time to take other measures."

My father began to pace up and down the room, as he always did when
violently agitated.

"Yes, to take other measures," he continued. "This has gone on far too
long. I have done all I could; I have nothing to reproach myself with;
but I will not become a public by-word for the sake of a perverse boy.
If he refuses to do what is his plain duty and obligation, then have I
no further duty or obligation towards him; and let him see how he can
get through the world without me."

He had not once looked at me while he uttered these words in a voice
broken with passion. Later in life I saw a painting representing the
Roman holding his burning hand in the glowing coals, and looking
sideways upon the ground with an expression of intensest agony. It
brought at once into my mind the remembrance of my father at this
fateful moment.

"Your father is right"--commenced for the third time the professor, who
held it his duty to strike in while the iron was hot--"when was there
ever a father who has done more for his children than your excellent
parent, whose integrity, industry and virtue have become a proverb, and
who through your fault is now deprived of the crowning ornament of a
good citizen; that is, a well-disciplined son, to be the stay of his
declining years. Is it not enough that inevitable fate has already hard
smitten this excellent man--that he has lost a dear consort and a son
in the bloom of youth? Shall he now lose the last, the Benjamin of
his old age? Shall his unwearied solicitude, his daily and nightly
prayers----"

My father was a man of strictest principles, but far from devout, in
the ordinary acceptation of the word; an untruth was his abhorrence,
and it was an untruth to say that he had prayed by night and day; and
besides, he had an excessive, almost morbid modesty, and the
professor's panegyric struck him as exaggerated and ill-timed.

"Let all that pass, Herr Professor"--he interrupted the learned man
rather impatiently--"I say again, I have done my duty. Enough! let him
do his. I want nothing of him--nothing--nothing whatever--not so much
as"--and he brushed one hand over the other; "but this I will have, and
if he refuses----"

My father had worked himself into a rage again, and my apparent
composure only further exasperated him. Strange! Had I fallen to
prayers and entreaties, I know that my father would have despised me,
and yet, because I did what he himself would most assuredly have done
in my position, because I was silent and stubborn, he hated me at this
moment as one hates anything that stands in one's way, and which yet
cannot be spurned aside with contempt.

"You have been guilty of a heavy offence, George Hartwig"--the
professor began again in a declamatory tone--"that of leaving the
Gymnasium without the permission of your teachers. I will not speak of
the boundless disrespect with which, as so often before, you rejected
the precious opportunity offered you of acquiring knowledge: I will
only speak of the terrible guilt of disobedience, of insolent defiance
of orders, of the evil example that your disgraceful conduct has
presented to your class-mates. If Arthur von Zehren's facile temper has
at last been warped into confirmed frivolity, this is the evil fruit of
your bad example. Never would that misguided boy have dared to do what
he has done to-day----"

As I knew the misguided boy so much better than he, I here broke
into a loud, contemptuous laugh, which drove the professor completely
beyond his self-control. He caught up his hat, and muttering some
unintelligible words, apparently expressing his conviction that I was
lost beyond all possibility of reformation, was about to leave the
room, when he was detained by my father.

"One moment, Herr Professor," he said, and then turning to me--"You
will instantly ask pardon of your teacher for this additional
insolence--instantly!"

"I will not," I replied.

"Instantly!" thundered my father.

"I will not!" I repeated.

"Once more, will you, or will you not?"

He stood before me his whole frame quivering with anger. His naturally
sallow complexion had turned of an ashy gray, the veins of his brow
were swollen, his eyes flashed. His last words had been spoken in a
hoarse, hissing tone.

"I will not," I said for the third time.

My father raised his arm as if to strike me, but he did not strike; his
arm slowly descended, and with outstretched hand he pointed to the
door:

"Begone!" he said, slowly and firmly. "Leave house forever!"

I looked straight into his eyes; I was about to say something--perhaps
"Forgive me, father; I will ask _your_ forgiveness;" but my heart lay
like a stone in my breast; my teeth were clenched like a vice; I could
not speak. I moved silently towards the door. The professor hurried
after me and seized my arm, no doubt with the kindest intentions; but I
saw in him only the cause of my disgrace. I thrust him roughly aside,
flung the door to after me, ran past the old housekeeper--the good old
creature had evidently been listening, for she stood there wringing her
hands, the picture of despair--and out of the house into the street.



                              CHAPTER IV.


I ran for a short distance like a madman, when suddenly my limbs began
to totter under me; the moonlit roofs, the lighted windows in some of
the houses, danced wildly before my eyes; the fumes of the wine I had
been drinking, repressed for a while by my mental excitement, now rose
again to my brain; I had to lean against a wall to keep myself from
falling.

I had probably remained for a few minutes in a state of partial
insensibility when the voices of some maids, who were bringing water
from the adjacent fountain, recalled me to consciousness. I roused
myself, and staggered down the street. Soon my strong natural
constitution began to assert itself; my steps grew firmer, and I began
to consider what I should do, and first of all, whither I should go.
The idea of seeking lodgings at an inn I rejected at once; I had never
yet passed a night from home; and besides, my whole stock of money did
not exceed one _thaler_--my father always kept me on a very meagre
allowance of pocket-money--and I had an indistinct notion that I should
have to make this slender sum go a long way. Had I not quarreled with
Arthur and parted from him in anger, I should probably have gone to
him; but as it was, I felt it impossible to present myself at his house
as a supplicant; and, besides, by this time he was most likely sleeping
off his intoxication, and his parents had never been friendly disposed
towards me. The commerzienrath! He had embraced me, called me _thou_
and _brother_: he would assuredly receive me with rapture, have me
shown to a magnificent chamber, with a grand four-post curtained
bed----

But while I was indulging in the picture of my brilliant reception at
the commerzienrath's, I was hastening steadily in the opposite
direction, towards the harbor. I passed some low taverns in which
sailors were roaring out coarse songs. How if I went in and joined the
drinkers, and to-morrow went out into the wide world a sailor, like my
brother Fritz? That would be a way to be revenged upon my father! To
lose two sons--both in the same way! And then to perish at sea, and my
corpse to lie at the bottom of the ocean, where my brother's bones had
long been lying! "Shame upon you, George!"--I said to myself--"shame!
The poor old man!"

How if I turned back? The professor had certainly long since left
the house. My father was alone in his room. I would go to him and
say--"Strike me if you will, father; I will not resist; I will not move
an eyelid!"

But I did not return, nor even slacken my pace; I had already left the
town behind, and was now in the wide street of the suburb, on both
sides of which stood the little cottages which at this season were
chiefly occupied by the bathing-guests. Here and there they shone
through the dark trees; some of them had lamps burning in glass globes
at the doors, and under trellises, and in the little gardens sat
cheerful groups; song and laughter and the merry voices of children
came up on the pleasant evening air; a light breeze just stirred the
tops of the trees over my head, and fire-flies twinkled in the bushes.

The moist, warm breeze from the sea seemed to refresh me; how pleasant
it must be, I thought, over there beyond the houses; and on the
instant, Smith Pinnow's cottage came into my mind. The very thing!
there I was sure of a shelter. The old man would give me a bed, or at
least a shake-down in the forge; or there was the old woman's great
arm-chair--certainly she could not sit crouching in it all night as
well as all day. Pity Klaus was not at home; but then the pretty
Christel was there. Christel had always been a favorite of mine;
indeed, at one time I had fancied myself really in love with her, and
her charms had attracted me to the hut at least quite as often as the
old man's four double-barrels and the long single-barrel, or the mulled
wine which he used to sell in the winter to the skaters that thronged
the beach.

Strange light-heartedness of youth! At this moment all the mischief I
had done, my father's grief, my own serious position, were all
forgotten; or, if not forgotten, they were only the dark background
upon which shone brightly and cheerily the picture of the old ruinous
hut with the glowing forge-fire, and above all the pretty figure of the
brisk Christel moving lightly about. What was the school--what was my
father's house and all the rest of my slavery to me now? At other
times, when I had been out at this hour, I was haunted with anxiety how
I should get in without the knowledge of my father, who went to bed
punctually at half-past nine: now my father had himself driven me from
his house. No need now to pull off my boots at the door, and creep
softly up the creaking stair to my chamber; I was a free man and could
do what I chose, and come and go at my pleasure.

The wide street and the suburbs were now behind me; I strode along
the well-known path, on my left a little meadow, on my right a
potato-field, here and there a solitary tree, blackly defined against
the clear starlit sky, and on either side the water, whose hollow sound
I heard plainer and plainer as the tongue of land narrowed, especially
towards the west, the windward quarter, where lay the open sea. I
noticed for the first time that I had no cap. I had either lost it
or left it by the lamp on the hall-table; so much the better, the
sea-breeze could play freely around my heated temples and in my loose
hair.

A pair of wild swans flew high above me; I could not see them, but
heard their peculiar wailing cry--two simple notes that rang strangely
through the silence of the night. "Good speed!" I called out to them:
"Good speed, my good comrades!"

A strangely happy feeling, mingled of sadness and joy, came over me,
such as I had never known before. I could have thrown myself upon the
earth and wept; I could have leaped and shouted in exultation. I could
not then comprehend what it was that so singularly possessed me. Now I
know well what it was: it was the sense of delight that must thrill
through the fish when he darts like an arrow through the liquid
crystal, the bird when he sweeps on expanded pinions through the air,
the stag when he bounds over the wild plain; the rapture that thrills
man's breast when in the full glow of youth and vigor he feels himself
one with the great mother, Nature. The fore-feeling of this delight,
the longing to taste it, are what drives the man from the narrow round
of circumstances in which he was born, out into the wide world, across
seas, into the desert, to the peaks of the Alps, anywhere where the
winds blow free, where the heaven broadens grandly above, where he must
risk his life to win it.

Does this after-thought excuse the insolent obstinacy of which I had
been guilty towards my father; and the terrible rashness with which I
staked my whole future on a cast of the die? Assuredly not. I will
excuse nothing, extenuate nothing; but simply narrate what happened to
me and within me during these events and those that followed; only
giving an explanation here and there when circumstances seem to require
it. Let the story tell its own moral; only this will I add, for the
consolation of thoughtful souls, that if, as cannot be gainsaid, my
conduct deserved punishment, this punishment was dealt out to me
speedily, and that in no stinted measure.

But at the time the haggard form with the lame foot was still too far
behind to cast the shade of her terrors upon me; two other figures,
however, as I hastened with a quickened pace over the heath, appeared
in sight, who had assuredly nothing spectral about them, for they were
standing in a close embrace. They sprang apart, with a cry of alarm
from a female voice, as, turning sharply around a hillock, I came
directly upon them. The maiden caught up a great basket, which she had
set upon the ground, having just had other employment for her arms, and
her companion gave an "Ahem!" which was so loud and so confused that it
could only have proceeded from a very innocent breast.

"Good evening," I said; "I trust----"

"Good Lord! is it really you?" said the man. "Why, Christel, only think
it's him!"--and Klaus caught Christel Möwe, who was about taking to
flight, by her dress, and detained her.

"Oh! I thought it was _him_!" stammered Christel, whose mind did not
seem entirely relieved by the discovery that if they had been espied it
was by a good friend.

Although the position in which Klaus and Christel evidently stood to
each other did not exactly require an explanation, still I was somewhat
astonished. As long as Klaus lived with his father, from the
commencement of our friendship, I had never detected in the good
fellow's heart anything more than brotherly affection for his pretty
adopted sister; but then that was four years ago. Klaus was but sixteen
when he went to work with locksmith Wangerow; and perhaps this
temporary separation had aroused the love which otherwise would have
calmly slumbered on, and possibly never awakened of itself. This was
confirmed by what the lovers themselves told me, as we walked slowly on
together towards the forge, often stopping for a minute at a time when
the story reached a point of particularly critical interest. One of
these points--and indeed the most serious--was the strongly and even
violently expressed aversion of old Pinnow to the engagement. Klaus did
not say so, but from all that I gathered I surmised that it was not
altogether impossible that the old man himself had cast an eye upon his
pretty adopted daughter; at least I could see no other reasonable
explanation of the fact that year by year, and day by day, he had grown
more morose and rancorous towards Klaus, and at last, after much
snarling and storming over his gadding about, and his shameful waste
of time, had ended by forbidding him the house, without the good
fellow--as he solemnly asseverated, and I believed him--having ever
given him the slightest cause of complaint. Therefore they--the
lovers--were under the necessity of keeping their meetings secret, a
proceeding not without considerable difficulties, as the old man was
extraordinarily watchful and cunning. For instance, he would send the
deaf and dumb apprentice, Jacob, to the town to make the necessary
purchases, although he was certain to make some blunder or other; and
to-day he would not have sent Christel, had he not heard that Klaus had
some late work to do on board the steamer, that would prevent his
coming ashore.

As I had a sincere affection for the good Klaus, who had been my
comrade in many a merry frolic by land and water, and was no less fond
of the rosy, soft-voiced Christel Möwe, I felt the liveliest sympathy
with them; and improbable though it may seem, their love, with its
sorrows and its joys, and the possibility of its happy termination, lay
at this moment nearer my heart than the thought of my own fortune. My
mind, however, recurred to my own situation, when, as we reached a
slight elevation in the path, the forge, with the light of the
kitchen-fire shining through its low window, appeared close at hand,
and Klaus asked if we should now turn back. He then for the first time
learned that it was no mere evening stroll that had brought me so far
from the town across the heath, and that my intention was to ask his
father for shelter for a day at least, or perhaps for several days. At
the same time I briefly explained to him the cause that compelled me to
so singular a step.

Klaus seemed greatly affected by what he heard; he grasped me by the
hand, and taking me a little aside, asked in an agitated whisper if I
had well considered what I was about? My father, he said, could not
mean to deal so harshly with me, and would certainly forgive me if I
returned at once. He himself would go and prepare the way, and let the
storm spend its first wrath upon him.

"But, Klaus, old fellow," I said, "you are no better off than I. We are
comrades in misery: your father has forbidden you his house, just as
mine has done with me. What difference is there between us?"

"This difference," Klaus answered, "that I have done nothing to give my
father the right to be angry with me, while you tell me yourself that
you--don't take it hard of me--have been playing a very ugly trick."

I answered that, be that as it might, home I would never go. What
further I should do, I did not know: I would come on board the steamer
to-morrow and talk the matter over with him; it was very likely that I
would need his assistance.

Klaus, who saw that my resolution was taken, and who had always been
accustomed to adapt himself to my plans, gave my hand another hearty
grasp, and said: "Well, then, till to-morrow."

His good heart was so full of what he had just heard that he was going
off without bidding Christel good-by, had I not, laughing, called his
attention to this highly reprehensible oversight. But he did not get
the kiss I had hoped for him; Christel said I had been very wicked; and
so we departed, Klaus going back towards the town, and soon
disappearing in the darkness, and Christel and I keeping on to the
forge, where through the window the fire was now blazing brighter than
before.

"How does the old man come to be working so late?" I asked the girl.

"It just happens so," she answered.

I put other questions, to all of which I received but the briefest
possible answers. Christel and I had always been the best friends in
the world, and I had ever known her as the brightest, merriest
creature. I could only suppose that she had been seriously offended by
my bit of sportiveness. As it was never my nature, unless when overcome
with passion, to wound the feelings of any one, least of all a poor
girl of whom I was really fond, so I did not for a moment hesitate to
frankly ask her pardon, if I had offended her, saying that what I had
done was with the best intention in the world, namely, that her lover
should not, through my fault, leave her without a good-by kiss.
Christel made me no answer, and I was about placing my arm around her
trim waist, in order to give more emphasis to my petition for
forgiveness, when the girl suddenly burst into tears, and in a
frightened tone said that I must not go with her to "his" house; and
that it was anyhow of no use, for "he" would certainly give me no
lodging there.

This declaration and this warning would have made most persons
hesitate. The forge was in such a lonely place, the reputation of the
old smith was far from being a good one, and I was sufficiently versed
in robber-stories to recall the various romantic situations where the
robber's daughter warns the hero, who has lost his way, against the
remaining members of her estimable family, and at the same time reveals
her love for him in a style equally discreet and intelligent. But I was
never subject to those attacks of timidity to which imaginative persons
are so liable; and besides, I thought, if the old man is jealous of his
son--and this I set down as certain--why may he not be so of me?--and
in the third place, a little cur at this moment rushed, furiously
barking, at my legs, and simultaneously appeared a stout figure at the
open door of the forge, and Smith Pinnow's familiar voice called out in
his deep bass: "Who is there?"

"A friend--George Hartwig," I answered, tossing the little yelping
brute with my foot into the bushes.

Christel must have given the old man an intimation of what I wanted as
she pushed by him into the house, for he said at once, without moving
from his post in the doorway, "I can give you no lodging here; my house
is not an inn."

"I know that very well, Pinnow," I answered, stepping up and offering
my hand; "but I thought you were my friend."

The old man did not take my hand, but muttered something that I did not
catch.

"I shall not return home, you maybe sure of that," I continued. "So, if
you do not mean that I shall lie here in the bushes, and join your dog
in howling at the moon, you will let me in, and mix me a glass of
grog--half-and-half, you know; and take a glass or two yourself: it
will do you good, and put better thoughts in your head."

With these words, I laid my hand on the shoulder of the inhospitable
smith, and gave him a hearty shake, in token of my friendly feelings.

"Would you attack a weak old man in his own house?" he exclaimed in an
angry tone, and in my turn I felt on my shoulders two hands whose size
and steely hardness were, for "a weak old man," quite remarkable. My
blood, which the cooler night air had by no means yet lowered to the
desirable temperature, needed but little provocation; and besides, here
was too favorable an opportunity to put to the proof my much-admired
strength; so I seized my antagonist, jerked him at a single effort from
the threshold, and hurled him a couple of paces to one side. I had not
the slightest design of forcing an entrance into his house; but the
smith, who feared that this was my intention, and was resolved to
prevent it at all hazards, threw himself upon me with such fury that I
was obliged in self-defence to exert my whole strength. I had had many
a hard tussle in my time, and had always come off victorious; but never
before had I been so equally matched as now. Perhaps it was from some
small remains of regard for the old man who now assaulted me, in sailor
fashion, with heavy blows of his fist, that I refrained from repaying
him in the same coin, but endeavored to grapple with him. At last I
felt that I had him in my power: seizing a lower hold, I raised him
from the ground, and the next moment he would have measured his length
upon the sand, when a peal of laughter resounded close at hand.
Startled, I lost my hold, and my antagonist, no sooner felt himself
free, than he rushed upon me again. Unprepared for this new attack, I
lost my balance, stumbled and fell, my antagonist above me. I felt his
hands of iron at my throat, when suddenly the laughter ceased. "For
shame, old man!" cried a sonorous voice, "he has not deserved that of
you;" and a pair of strong arms tore the smith from me. I sprang to my
feet and confronted my deliverer, for so I must call him, as without
his interference I do not know what would have happened to me.



                               CHAPTER V.


He was, as well as I could distinguish by the faint light of the moon
that was now partly obscured by clouds, a man of tall stature and
slender frame; so alert in his movements that I took him to be young,
or at least comparatively young, until, at a sudden turn he made, the
flickering glare of the fire through the open door fell upon his face,
and I saw that his features were deeply furrowed, apparently with age.
And as now, holding my hand, he led me into the forge, which glowed
with a strong light, he seemed to me to be neither young nor old, or
rather both at once.

It is true, the moment was not precisely favorable to physiognomical
investigations. The stranger surveyed me with large eyes that flashed
uncannily out of the crumpled folds and wrinkles that surrounded them
from head to foot, and felt my shoulders and arms, as a jockey might
examine a horse that has got over a distance in three minutes that it
takes other horses five to accomplish. Then, turning on his heel, he
burst into a peal of laughter, as the smith turned upon the deaf and
dumb apprentice, Jacob, who all this time had been blowing the bellows,
quite indifferent to what was going forward, and gave him a push which
spun him around like a top.

"Bravo! bravo!" cried the stranger, "that was well done! Easier
handling him than the other--eh, Pinnow?"

"The other may thank his stars that he gets off so easily," growled the
smith, as he drew a red-hot bar from the coals.

"I am ready to try it again at any time, Pinnow," I cried, and was
delighted that the stranger, with an amused look, nodded his
approbation, while with affected solemnity he cried: "For shame young
man, for shame! a poor old man! Do you consider that a thing to boast
of?"

The smith had seized his heavy forge-hammer, and was plying the glowing
bar with furious strokes until the sparks flew in showers, and the
windows rattled in the frames.

The stranger stopped his ears. "For heaven's sake, man," he cried,
"stop that infamous noise! Who in the devil's name can stand it, do you
think? Do you suppose that I have your plebeian ears? Stop, I say,
or----"

He gave the smith a push, as the latter had just before done to his
apprentice, but the old man stood more firmly than the young one. With
a furious look he raised his hammer--it seemed as if the next moment he
would bring it down on the stranger's head.

"Have you gone mad?" said the stranger, casting a stern look at the
enraged smith. Then, as the latter slowly lowered the hammer, he began
speaking to him in an undertone, to which the old man answered in a
muttering voice, in which I thought I could at intervals distinguish my
own name.

"It may be," said the stranger; "but here he is now, and here he shall
stay."

"Excuse me," I said, "I have not the least idea of thrusting my company
upon you: I would not have set my foot in the house, had not----"

"Now _he's_ beginning again," exclaimed the stranger, with a laugh of
half vexation; "will you ever come to your senses, you two? What I want
is peace and quiet, and above all, some supper; and you shall keep me
company. Hallo! Christel! Where is the girl? You, Pinnow, take off your
leather apron and come in too."

With these words he opened the low door on the right of the forge-fire,
which led from the forge into the living-room. I had often enough been
in the latter, and indeed I knew the whole place well: the living-room
was a moderately large apartment, but only half as high from floor to
ceiling as the forge; the sleeping-rooms lying above it, which were
reached by a steep stair, or sort of ladder, in a corner of the room,
passing through a hole in the ceiling. There was also a door, reached
by two steps, which led into a small side-room, where the smith's
mother slept. This old woman, a prodigy of age, was now crouching in
her easy-chair in her usual corner, close to the stove, which was
heated from without. In the middle of the room stood a heavy oaken
table, and on the table the great basket which Christel had brought
from the town. Christel herself was apparently searching for something
in a closet at the further end of the room.

"Now, Christel," said the stranger, taking a light to look into the
basket, "what have you brought? That looks inviting. But bestir
yourself, for I am hungry as a wolf--and you too," turning to me--"are
you not? One is always hungry at your age. Come this way to the window.
Sit down."

He made me sit on one of the two benches that stood in the recess of
the window, seated himself on the other, and continued in a somewhat
lower tone, with a glance at Christel, who was now, with a noiseless
despatch, beginning to set the table:----

"A pretty girl: rather too much of a blonde, perhaps; she is a
Hollander; but that is in keeping here: is not the old woman nodding
there in her easy chair just like a picture by Terburg? Then old
Pinnow, with the face of a bull-dog and the figure of a seal, and Jacob
with his carp's eyes! But I like it; I seldom fail, when I have been in
the town without my carriage, as happens to-day, to look in here, and
let old Pinnow set me over; especially as with a good wind I can get
across in half an hour, while by the town-ferry it takes me a full
hour, and then afterwards as much more before I reach my estate."

The stranger spoke in a courteous, engaging manner, which pleased me
exceedingly; and while speaking, repeatedly stroked with his left hand
his thick beard, which fell half-way down his breast, and from time to
time glanced at a diamond ring on his finger. I began to feel a great
respect for the strange gentleman, and was extremely curious to know
who he was, but could not venture to ask him.

"What an abominable atmosphere in this room!" he suddenly exclaimed;
"enough to make one faint;" and he was about opening the window at
which we were sitting, but checking himself, he turned and said: "To be
sure! the old woman might take cold. Christel, can't you get the old
lady to bed?"

"Yes, sir; directly," said Christel, who had just finished setting the
table, and going up to the old woman, screamed in her ear,
"Grandmother, you must go to bed!"

The old woman received this intimation with evident disfavor, for she
shook her head energetically, but at last allowed herself to be raised
from her crouching position, and tottered from the room, leaning on
Christel's arm. When Christel reached the steps that led to the side
room she looked round. I sprang to her assistance, and carried the old
lady up the steps, while Christel opened the door, through which she
then disappeared with her charge.

"Well done, young man," said my new acquaintance, as I came back to
him; "we must always be polite to ladies. And now we will open the
window."

He did so, and the night air rushed in. It had grown darker; the moon
was hidden behind a heavy mass of cloud that was rolling up from the
west; from the sea, which was but a few paces distant, came a hollow
roaring and plashing of the waves breaking on the beach; a few drops of
rain drove into my face.

The stranger looked out intently at the weather. "We must be off
presently," I heard him say to himself Then turning to me: "But now we
will have some supper; I am almost dying of hunger. If Pinnow prefers
grumbling to eating, let him consult his taste. Come."

He took his seat at the table, inviting me by a gesture to place myself
beside him. I had, during the day, eaten far less than I had drunk, and
my robust frame, which had long since overcome the effects of my
intoxication, now imperatively demanded sustenance. So I very willingly
complied with the invitation of my entertainer; and indeed the contents
of the basket which Christel had now unpacked were of a nature to tempt
a far more fastidious palate than mine. There were caviare, smoked
salmon, ham, fresh sausage, pickles; nor was a supply of wine wanting.
Two bottles of Bordeaux, with the label of a choice vintage, stood upon
the table, and out of the basket peeped the silvery neck of a bottle of
Champagne.

"Quite a neat display," said the stranger, filling both our glasses,
helping himself first from one dish and then from another, and inviting
me to follow his example, while chatting at intervals in his pleasant
fashion. Without his questioning me directly, we had somehow come to
speak of my affairs; and, unsuspicious and communicative as I was,
before the first bottle was emptied I had given him a pretty fair
account of my neither long nor eventful life. The occurrences of the
past day, so momentous for me, occupied rather more time in the
recital. In the ardor of my narration, I had, without observing it,
filled and drunk several glasses of wine; the weight that had laid upon
my spirits had disappeared; my old cheerful humor had returned, all the
more as this meeting with the mysterious stranger under such singular
circumstances, gave my imagination room for the wildest conjectures. I
described our flight from the school, I mimicked Professor Lederer's
voice and manner, I threw all my powers of satire into my sketch of the
commerzienrath, and I fear that I smote the table with my fist when I
came to speak of Arthur's shameful ingratitude, and the outrageous
partiality of the steuerrath. But here my talkative tongue was checked;
the melancholy dimness of my father's study spread a gloom over my
spirits; I fell into a tragic tone, as I swore that though I should
have to go on a pilgrimage to the North Cape, barefoot, as I was
already bareheaded, and beg my bread from door to door--or, as begging
was not my forte, should I have to take to the road--I would never more
set foot in my father's house again, after he had once driven me from
it. That what I was in duty bound to bear from a parent had here
reached its limits; that nature's bond was cancelled, and that my
resolution was as firmly fixed as the stars in the sky, and if any one
chose to ridicule it, he did it at his peril.

With these words I sprang from the table, and set down the glass from
which I had been drinking, so violently, that it shivered to pieces.
For the stranger, whose evident enjoyment of my story had at times
encouraged me, and at others embarrassed, when I came to my peroration,
which was delivered with extreme pathos, burst into a paroxysm of
laughter which seemed as if it would never end.

"You have been kind to me," I exclaimed; "true, I think I could have
held my own without your assistance; but no matter for that--you came
to my help at the right moment, and now you have entertained me with
food and drink. You are welcome to laugh as much as you please, but I,
for my part, will not stay to listen to it. Farewell!"

I looked round for my cap; then, remembering that I had none, strode to
the door, when the stranger, who in the meantime had also risen from
his seat, hastened after me, caught me by the arm, and in the grave but
kindly tone that had previously so charmed me, said:

"Young man, I entreat your pardon. And now come back and take your seat
again. I offer you the word of a nobleman that I will respect your
feelings, even if your expression of them takes a somewhat singular
form."

His dark eyes gleamed, and there were twitchings in the maze of
wrinkles that surrounded them.

"You are jesting with me," I said.

"I am not," he replied, "upon the word of a nobleman. On the contrary,
you please me extremely, and I was several times on the point of
interrupting your story to ask a favor of you. Come and stay awhile
with me. Whether you are reconciled with your father, as I hope, or if
the breach be past closing, as you believe, at all events you must
first have a roof over your head; and you cannot possibly stay here,
where you are evidently not wanted. As I said, I will feel it a favor
if you will accept my invitation. I cannot offer you much, but--there
is my hand! Good! now we will pledge good fellowship in champagne."

I had already forgiven my mysterious but amiable acquaintance, and
pledged him in the sparkling wine with all my heart. With merriment and
laughter we had soon emptied the flask, when the smith entered. He had
thrown off his leather apron, donned a sailor's jacket, and wrapped a
thick muffler round his muscular neck. It now struck me for the first
time that he had not on the great blue spectacles which for several
years I had never seen him without, and which he wore on account of his
alleged near-sightedness: and it now occurred to me that he was not
wearing them at the time of our quarrel. Still, I might be mistaken on
that point; but I had no time to reflect upon so unimportant a matter,
for my attention was at once fixed by some words exchanged in a low
tone between the smith and the stranger.

"Is it time?" asked the latter.

"It is," replied the smith.

"The wind is favorable?"

"Yes."

"Everything in order?"

"Except the anchor, which you would not let me finish."

"We can do without it."

"Not well."

The stranger stood for a few moments in thought; his handsome face
seemed suddenly to have grown twenty years older; he stroked his beard,
and I noticed that he was observing me from the corner of his eye. He
then caught the smith by the arm and led him out of the door, which he
closed behind him. Outside the door I heard them talking, but could
make out nothing, for the stranger spoke in a subdued voice, and the
smith's growling speech was at all times difficult to understand;
presently, however, the dialogue grew louder, and, as it seemed, more
and more vehement, especially on the part of the smith.

"I will have it so!" cried the stranger.

"And I say no!" maintained the smith.

"It is my affair."

"And my affair as well."

The voices sank again, and presently I heard the outer door creak. They
had left the forge; I stepped to the open window and saw them go to the
little shed close to the beach, by which Pinnow's boat was usually
drawn up on the sand. They disappeared in the shadow of the shed; then
I heard a chain rattle, and a grating on the sand; they were launching
the boat. All was then still: the only sounds audible were the stronger
roaring of the sea, mingled with the rush of the wind in the leaves of
the old oak, which threw its half-decayed boughs over the forge.

I heard a rustling in the room, and turned quickly round. It was
Christel; she stood behind me, looking with an intense gaze, as I had
just done, through the window into the darkness.

"Well, Christel!" I said.

She placed her finger on her lips, and whispered, "Hush!" then beckoned
me from the window. Surprised rather than alarmed, I followed her.

"What is the matter, Christel?"

"Don't go with them, whatever you do. And go away from here at once.
You cannot stay here."

"But, Christel, why not? And who is the gentleman?"

"I must not tell you; I must not speak his name. If you go with them,
you will learn it soon enough; but do not go!"

"Why? What will they do to me, Christel?"

"Do? They will do nothing to you. But do not go with them."

A noise was heard outside; Christel turned away and began clearing the
table, while the voices of the two who were returning from the beach
came nearer and nearer.

I do not know what another would have done in my place; I can only say
that the girl's warning produced upon me an effect precisely opposite
to that intended. True, I well remember that my heart beat quicker, and
that I cast a hurried glance at the four double-barrels and the long
fowling-piece that hung in the old places on the wall; but the desire
to go through with the adventure was now fully awaked in me. I felt
equal to any danger that might beset me; and, for the matter of that,
Christel had just said that no harm was intended to me.

Besides--and this circumstance is, perhaps, the real key to my conduct
that evening--the stranger, whoever he might be, with his partly
serious and partly jocose, half-sympathetic and half-mocking language,
had somehow established a mysterious influence over me. In later years,
when I heard the legend of the Piper of Hameln, whom the children were
irresistibly compelled to follow, I at once recalled this night and the
stranger.

He now appeared at the door, dressed in a coarse, wide sailor's jacket,
and wearing a low-crowned tarpaulin hat in place of his cloth cap.
Pinnow opened a press in the wall, and produced a similar outfit for
me, which the stranger made me put on.

"It is turning cold," he remarked, "and your present dress will be but
little protection to you, though I trust our passage will be a short
one. So: now you are equipped capitally: now let us be off."

The smith had stepped to Christel and whispered her a few words, to
which she made no reply. She had turned her back upon me since the men
had entered, and did not once turn her head as I bade her good-night.

"Come on," said the stranger.

We went through the forge, where the fire had now burnt down, and
stepped out into the windy night. After proceeding a few steps, I
turned my head: the light in the living-room was extinguished; the
house lay dark in the darkness, and the wind roared and moaned in the
dry branches of the old oak.

The noise of the sea had increased; the wind had freshened to a stiff
breeze; the moon had set; no star shone through the scudding clouds
which from time to time were lighted with a lurid gleam, followed by a
mutter of distant thunder.

We reached the boat which was already half in the water, and they made
me get on board, while the stranger, Pinnow, and the deaf and dumb
Jacob, who had suddenly made his appearance out of the darkness, and
was, as well as I could make out, also in sailor's dress and
fisherman's boots--pushed off. In a few minutes we were flying through
the water; the stranger stood at the helm, but presently yielded it to
Pinnow, when the latter with Jacob's assistance had finished setting
the sails, and took his seat beside me.

"Now, how do you like this?" he asked me.

"Glorious!" I exclaimed. "But I think, Pinnow, that you had better take
in another reef; we are carrying too much sail, and over yonder"--I
pointed to the west--"it has an ugly look."

"You seem to be no greenhorn," said the stranger.

Pinnow made no reply but gave the hasty order: "Take in the foresail,"
at the same time putting up the helm and letting the boat fall off the
wind. It was not a moment too soon, for a squall striking us an instant
after made her careen so violently that I thought she would founder,
though luckily she righted again. The jib was taken in altogether, and
the foresail now hoisted only half-mast high, and under this canvas we
flew through the waves, upon whose whitening crests played the pale
glare of the lightning at ever shorter intervals, and still louder and
louder followed the roll of the thunder.

After a while the squall abated as rapidly as it had come up, and the
stars began to shine here and there through the clouds. I came aft--I
had been helping Jacob to handle the sails--and took my seat again by
the stranger. He passed his hand over my jacket:

"You are wet to the skin," he said.

"So are we all," I answered.

"But you are not used to it."

"But I am nineteen."

"No older?"

"Not two months."

"You are a man."

I felt more pride from this short speech than I had ever felt shame
during the longest diatribe of Professor Lederer, or any of my other
teachers. There were few things which I would not have been willing at
that moment to attempt had the stranger required it; but he offered no
compact with the powers of darkness, nor anything of the sort, but only
advised me to lie down in the boat and be covered with a piece of
canvas, as the trip was likely to last longer than had been expected,
the wind having hauled round another quarter; I could be of no more
service now, and "Sleep is a warm cloak, as Sancho Panza says," he
added.

I protested, affirming that I could keep awake for three days and three
nights together; but I yielded to his insistence, and had hardly
stretched myself on the bottom of the boat, when sleep, which I had
thought so far, fell upon me heavy as lead.

How long I slept I do not exactly know; but I was awakened by the
grating of the keel upon the sand of the shore. The stranger helped me
up, but I was still so heavy with sleep that I cannot remember how I
got ashore. The night was still dark; I could distinguish nothing but
the gleaming crests of the waves breaking on a long level beach, from
which the land rose higher as it ran inward. When I had recovered my
full consciousness the boat had already pushed off; my unknown friend
and I were following a path that ascended among trees. He held me by
the hand, and in a friendly, pleasant manner pointed out the various
irregularities of the path, in which he seemed to know every stone and
every projecting root. At last we reached the top of the cliff; before
us lay the open country, and in the distance a dark pile, which I
gradually made out, in the dawning light, to be a mass of buildings,
with a park or wood of immense trees.

"Here we are," said the stranger at last, as, after passing through a
silent court-yard, we stood before a great dark building.

"Where?" I asked.

"At my house," he responded, laughing. We were now standing in the
hall, and he was trying to light a match.

"And where is that?" I asked again. I could not myself have told how I
found the boldness to put this question.

The match kindled; he lighted a lamp which was in readiness, and the
light fell upon his long dishevelled beard and haggard face, in which
the rain and surf seemed to have deepened every wrinkle to a fold and
every fold to a furrow. He looked at me fixedly with his large deep-set
eyes.

"At Zehrendorf," he replied, "the house of Malte von Zehren, whom they
call 'The Wild.' You don't regret having come with me?"

"That I do not," I answered him with energy.



                              CHAPTER VI.


On awaking the next morning, it was long ere I could arrive at a clear
consciousness of my situation. My sleep had been disturbed by frightful
dreams, which had left an oppression upon my spirits. It still seemed
to me that I heard my father's voice, when a part of my dream recurred
to my memory. I had been fleeing from my father, and came to a smooth
pond, into which I threw myself, to escape by swimming. But the smooth
pond suddenly changed into a stormy sea, upon whose waves I was now
tossed towards heaven, and now plunged into the abyss. I was paralyzed
with terror; and strove in vain to call to my father for help, while my
father did not see me, although he ran up and down the shore, within
reach of me, wringing his hands and breaking into loud lamentations
over his drowned son.

I passed my hand repeatedly over my brow to drive away the frightful
images, and opened my eyes and looking around, found myself in the room
into which my host had conducted me on the previous night. The light in
the great bare apartment was so dim, that I thought at first it must be
very early; but my watch had stopped at nine, and on examination I
discovered that this greenish twilight was produced by the thick
foliage of trees whose branches touched the solitary window. At this
moment a ray of sunlight found its way through some aperture, and fell
upon the wall in front of me, upon which I at first thought the most
singular and fantastic figures were painted, until closer observation
showed me that the dark hangings had here and there detached themselves
from the lighter ground, and hung in irregular strips, which seemed the
strange garments of grotesque forms.

Altogether the appearance of the room was as inhospitable as it well
could be: the plaster in several places had fallen from the ceiling,
and lay in white fragments upon the floor, which was laid in parquetry,
but now cracked in all directions. The whole furniture consisted of a
great canopied bed, the curtains of which were of faded green damask;
two high-backed chairs, covered with similar materials, one of which
possessed its normal complement of legs, while the other, which in
years had not yet learned to stand upon three, was propped against the
wall; and finally, a pine washstand painted white, in singular contrast
to the great oval mirror in a rich antique rococo frame, which hung
above it; although it is true that the gilding on this piece of
magnificence was in many places tarnished by age.

I made these observations while putting on my clothes, which in the
short time I had slept by no means dried as thoroughly as I could have
desired. But this was but a trifling discomfort: the thought that
troubled me was, how should I dress myself the next day, and after?
upon which followed the associate reflection:--what was going to become
of me altogether?

The answer to this question was by no means clear; and after some
consideration I hit upon the idea that it would be as well, before I
came to a decision--which in any event was not a matter of such instant
urgency--to consult my friendly host upon the subject. Singular enough!
up to this day I had always rejected the advice of those whose position
and knowledge best qualified them to give it, and had always maintained
that I knew best what I had to do; and now I found myself looking with
a sort of superstitious reliance to a man whom I had but just learned
to know, and that under circumstances by no means of a nature to
inspire confidence, and whose name was in evil repute, far and near. It
was in this fact, possibly, that lay the greatest attraction for me.
"The Wild Zehren" had held a place in my boyish imagination by the side
of Rinaldo Rinaldini and Karl Moor; and I had keenly envied my friend
Arthur, who used to tell the wildest stories about him, the possession
of such an uncle.

Of late years he had been less talked about: I once heard the
steuerrath, in a public garden, in the presence of my father and
others, thanking God that the "mad fellow" had at last shown some signs
of reformation, and the family might consider itself relieved from the
perpetual fear that sooner or later he would come to some bad end. At
the same time some allusions were made to a daughter, at which several
of the gentlemen whispered together, and Justizrath Heckepfennig
shrugged his shoulders. Later, Arthur told me that his cousin had
eloped with a young tutor, but had not gone far, as his uncle gave
chase to the fugitives and caught them before they reached the ferry.
She was very beautiful, he said further, and on that account he the
more regretted that his father and his uncle were on such unfriendly
terms, for, owing to this disagreement, he had never seen Constance (I
remembered the name) but once, and that was when she was a child.

All this and much more in this connection came into my mind while I
finished my simple toilet before the dim mirror with the tarnished
rococo frame; and as I thought of the pretty cousin, I felt chagrin at
the tardy development of the beard that had begun to sprout on my upper
lip. I caught up the sailor's hat which I had brought with me when I
landed, and left the room to look for Herr von Zehren.

Pretty soon it became evident that this very natural intention was not
so easy of accomplishment. The room which I left had, luckily, only two
doors in it; but that which I entered had three, so that I had to make
a choice between two, not including that which led into my chamber.
Apparently I did not hit upon the right one, for I came upon a narrow
corridor, very dimly lighted through a closed and curtained glass door.
Another which I tried, opened into a hall of stateliest dimensions, the
three windows of which looked out upon a large park-like garden. From
this hall I passed into a great two-windowed room looking upon the
court, and from this one happily back to the one adjoining my chamber,
from which I had set out. I had to laugh when I made this discovery,
but my laughter sounded so strangely hollow as to check my mirth at
once. And indeed it was no wonder if laughter had a strange sound in
these empty rooms, which seemed as if they had heard few sounds of
merriment in recent times, however joyous they might have been in years
by-gone. For this room was just as bare and cheerless as that in which
I had slept; with just such ragged hangings, crumbling ceilings, and
worm-eaten, half ruinous furniture, which might once have adorned a
princely apartment. And so was it with the other rooms, which I now
examined again more attentively than at first. Everywhere the same
signs of desolation and decay; everywhere mournful evidences of
vanished splendor: here and there upon the walls hung life-size
portraits, which seemed to be spectrally fading into the dark
background from which they had once shone brilliantly; in one room lay
immense piles of books in venerable leather bindings, among which a
pair of rats dived out of sight as I entered; in another, otherwise
entirely empty, was a harp with broken chords, and the scabbard of a
dress-sword, with its broad silken scarf. Everywhere rubbish, dust and
cobwebs; windows dim with neglect, except where their broken panes
offered a free passage to the birds that had scattered straw and dirt
around--to a plaster cornice still clung a pair of abandoned swallow's
nests; everywhere a stifling, musty atmosphere of ruin and decay.

After I had wandered through at least a half dozen more rooms, a lucky
turn brought me into a spacious hall, from which descended a broad
oaken staircase adorned with antique carved work. This staircase also,
that once with its stained windows, its dark panels reaching almost to
the ceiling, its antlers, old armor, and standards, must have presented
an unusually stately and imposing appearance, offered the same dreary
picture of desolation as the rest; and I slowly descended it amazed,
and to a certain extent confounded, by all that I had seen. More than
one step cracked and yielded as I placed my foot upon it, and as I
instinctively laid my hand upon the broad balustrade, the wood felt
singularly soft, but it was from the accumulated dust of years, into
which, indeed, the whole stair seemed slowly dissolving.

I knew that I had not come this way the previous night, when my host
conducted me to my chamber. A steep stair, as I afterwards learned, led
from a side hall directly to that dark corridor which adjoined the room
I had occupied. I had, therefore, never before been in the great hall
in which I was now standing; and as I did not wish to go knocking in
vain at half-a-dozen doors, and the great house-door that fronted the
stairs, proved to be locked, I succeeded with some difficulty in
opening a back-door, which luckily was only bolted, and entered a small
court. The low buildings surrounding this, had probably been used as
kitchens, or served other domestic purposes in former times; but at
present they were all vacant, and looked up piteously with their
empty window-frames and crumbling tile-roofs to the bare and ruinous
main-building, as a pack of half-starved dogs to a master who himself
has nothing to eat.

I was no longer a child: my organization was far from being a
susceptible one, nor did I ever lightly fall into the fantastic mood;
but I confess, that a strange and weird sensation came over me among
these corpses of houses from which the life had evidently long since
departed. So far I had not come upon the slightest trace of active
human life. As it was now, so it must have been for years, a trysting
place and tilt yard for owls and sparrows, rats and mice. Just so might
have looked a castle enchanted by the wickedest of all witches; and I
do not think that I should have been beyond measure astonished, if the
hag had herself arisen, with bristling hair, from the great kettle in
the wash-house, into which I cast a glance, and flown up through the
wide chimney upon one of the broom-sticks that were lying about.

This wash-house had a door opening upon a little yard surrounded by a
hedge, and divided by a deep trench, bridged by a half-rotten plank;
which yard, as was evident from the egg-shells and bones scattered
about, had formerly been a receptacle for the refuse of the kitchen,
but grass had grown over the old rubbish-heaps, and a pair of wild
rabbits darted at sight of me into their burrows in the trench. They
might possibly preserve some legend of a time when the trench had been
full of water, and these burrows the habitations of water-rats, but at
such a remote period of antiquity that the whole tradition ran into the
mythical.

Hearing a sound at hand which seemed to indicate the presence of a
human being, I pushed through the hedge into the garden, and following
the direction of the sound, found an old man who was loading a small
cart with pales, which he was breaking with a hatchet out of a high
stockade. This stockade had evidently once served as the fence of a
deer-park; in the high grass lay the ruins of two deer-sheds blown down
by the wind: the stags who used to feed from the racks, and try their
antlers against the paling, had probably long since found their way to
the kitchen, and why should the paling itself not follow?

So at least thought the withered old man whom I found engaged in this
singular occupation. When he first came upon the estate, which was in
the life-time of the present owner's father, there were forty head of
deer in the park, he said; but in the year '12, when the French landed
upon the island and took up quarters in the castle, more than half were
shot, and the rest broke out and were never recovered, though a part
were afterwards killed in the neighboring forest which belonged to
Prince Prora.

After giving me this information, the old man fell to his work again,
and I tried in vain to draw him into further conversation. His
communicativeness was exhausted, and only with difficulty could I get
from him that the master had gone out shooting, and would scarcely be
back before evening, perhaps not so soon.

"And the young lady?"

"Most likely up yonder," said the old man, pointing with his axe-handle
in the direction of the park; then slipping the straps of his cart over
his decrepit shoulders, he slowly dragged it along the grass-grown path
towards the castle. I watched him till he disappeared behind the
bushes; for a while I could still hear the creaking of his cart, and
then all was silent.

Silence without a sound, just as in the ruinous castle. But here the
silence had nothing oppressive; the sky here was blue, without even the
smallest speck of cloud; here shone the bright morning sun, throwing
the shadows of the aged oaks upon the broad meadows, and sparkling in
the rain-drops which the night's storm had left upon the bushes. Now
and then a light breeze stirred, and the long sprays, heavy with rain,
waved languidly, and the tall spires of grass bent before it.

It was all very beautiful. I inhaled deep draughts of the cool sweet
air, and once more felt the sense of delight that had come over me the
evening before, as the wild swans swept above me, high in air. How
often, in after days, have I thought of that evening and this morning,
and confessed to myself that I then, in spite of all, in spite of my
folly and frivolity and misconduct, was happy, unspeakably happy--a
short lived, treacherous bliss, it is true, but still bliss--a paradise
in which I could not stay, from which the stern realities of life, and
nature itself, expelled me--and yet a paradise!

Slowly loitering on, I penetrated deeper into the green wilderness, for
wilderness it was. The path was scarcely distinguishable amid the
luxuriant weeds and wild overgrowth of bushes--the path which in
by-gone days had been swept by the trains of ladies fair, and by which
the little feet of children had merrily tripped along. The surface grew
hilly; at the end lay the park, and over me venerable beeches arched
their giant boughs. Again the path descended towards an opening in the
forest, and I stood upon the margin of a moderately large, circular
tarn, in whose black water were reflected the great trees that
surrounded it nearly to the edge.

A few steps further, upon a slightly elevated spot, at the foot of a
tree whose gigantic size seemed the growth of centuries, was a low bank
of moss; upon the bank lay a book and a glove. I looked and listened on
all sides: all was still as death: only the sunlight played through the
green sprays, and now and then a leaf fluttered down upon the dark
water of the tarn.

I could not resist an impulse of curiosity: I approached the bank and
took up the book. It was Eichendorf's "Life of a Good-for-Nothing." I
had never seen the book, nor even heard of the author; but could not
refrain from smiling as I read the title: it was as though some one had
called me by name. But at that time I cared little for books: so I
replaced it, open, as I had found it, and picked up the glove, not,
however, without another cautious glance around, to see if the owner
might not be a witness of my temerity.

This glove, I at once divined, belonged to Arthur's beautiful
cousin--whose else could it be? The inference was simple enough; and,
indeed, the circumstance of a young lady leaving her glove on the spot
where she had been resting, had nothing in it remarkable. But the fancy
of a youth of my temperament is not fettered; and I confess that as I
held the little delicate glove in my hand, and inhaled its faint
perfume, my heart began to beat very unreasonably. I had walked, times
without number, past Emilie Heckepfennig's window in hope of a glance
from that charmer; and had even worn on my heart, for weeks together, a
ribbon which she once gave me as I was dancing with her; but that
ribbon never gave me such feelings as did this little glove; there must
have been some enchantment about it.

I threw myself upon the bank of moss, and indulged my fancy in the wild
dreams of a youth of nineteen; at times laying the glove on the seat
beside me, and then taking it up again to scrutinize it with ever
closer attention, as though it were the key to the mystery of my life.

I had been sitting thus perhaps a quarter of an hour, when I suddenly
started up and listened. As if from the sky there came a sound of music
and singing, faint at first, then louder, and finally I distinguished a
soft female voice, and the tinkling notes of a guitar. The voice was
singing what seemed the refrain of a song:


           "All day long the bright sun loves me;
            All day long."


"All day long," it was repeated, now quite close at hand, and I now
perceived the singer, who had been concealed from me hitherto by the
great trunks of the beeches.

She was coming down a path which descended rather steeply among the
trees, and as she came to a spot upon which the bright sunshine
streamed through a canopy of leaves, she paused and looked thoughtfully
upwards, presenting a picture which is ineffaceably imprinted upon my
memory, and even now after so many years it comes back to me vividly as
ever.

A charming, deep brunette, whose exquisitely proportioned form made her
stature appear less than it really was; and whose somewhat fantastic
dress of a dark green material, trimmed with gold braid, admirably
accorded with her striking, almost gypsy-like appearance. She carried a
small guitar suspended around her neck with a red ribbon, and her
fingers played over its chords like the rays of sunlight over the
lightly waving sprays.

Poor Constance! Child of the sun! Why, if it loved thee so well, did it
not slay thee now with one of these rays, that I might have made thee a
grave in this lonely forest-glade, far from the world for which thy
heart so passionately yearned--thy poor foolish heart!

I was standing motionless, fascinated by the vision, when with a deep
sigh she seemed to awake from a reverie, and as she descended the path
her eyes and mine met. I noticed that she started lightly, as one who
meets a human being where he only expected to see the stem of a tree:
but the surprise was but momentary, and I observed that she regarded me
from under her drooped lids, and a transient smile played round her
lips; in truth, a beautiful maiden, conscious of her beauty could
scarcely have seen without a smile the amazed admiration, bordering on
stupefaction, depicted in my face.

Whether she or I was the first to speak I do not now remember; and
indeed I clearly retain, of this our first conversation, only the
memory of the tones of her soft and somewhat deep voice, which to my
ear was like exquisite music. We must have ascended together from the
forest-dell to the upland, and the sea-breeze must have awakened me to
a clearer consciousness, for I can still see the calm, blue water
stretching in boundless expanse around us, the white streaks of foam
lying among the rocks of the beach perhaps a hundred feet below, and a
pair of large gulls wheeling hither and thither, and then dipping to
the water, where they gleamed like stars. I see the heather of the
upland waving in the light breeze, hear the lapping of the surf among
the sharp crags of the shore, and amid it all I hear the voice of
Constance.

"My mother was a Spaniard, as beautiful as the day, and my father, who
had gone thither to visit a friend he had known in Paris, saw her, and
carried her off. The friend was my mother's brother, and he loved my
father dearly, but was never willing that they should marry, because he
was a strict Catholic, and my father would never consent to become a
Catholic, but laughed and mocked at all religions. So they secretly
eloped; but my uncle pursued and overtook them in the night, upon a
lonely heath, and there were wild words between them, and then swords
were drawn, and my father killed the brother of his bride. She did not
know this until long afterwards; for she fainted during the fight, and
my father contrived to make her believe that he had parted from his
brother-in-law in friendship. Then they came to this place; but my
mother always pined for her home, and used to say that she felt a
weight upon her heart, as if a murder were resting on her soul. At last
she learned, through an accident, the manner of death of her brother,
whom she had devotedly loved; and so she grew melancholy, and wandered
about day and night, asking every one whom she met which was the road
to Spain. My father at last had to shut her up; but this she could not
endure, and became quite raving, and tried to take her own life, until
they let her go free again, when she wandered about as before. And one
morning she threw herself into this pool, and when they drew her out
she was dead. I was then only three years old, and I have no
recollection of her looks, but they say she was handsomer than I am."

I said that could hardly be possible; and I said it with so much
seriousness, for I was thinking of the poor woman who had drowned
herself here, that Constance again smiled, and said I was certainly the
best creature in the world, and that one could say anything to me that
came into one's head; and that was what she liked. So I was always to
stay with her, she said, and be her faithful George, and slay all the
dragons in the world for her sake. Was I agreed to that? Indeed was I,
I answered. And again a smile played over her rosy lips.

"You look as if you would. But how did you really come here, and what
does my father want with you? He gave me a special charge on your
account this morning before he set out; you must stand high in his
favor, for he does not usually give himself much care for the welfare
of other people. And how come you to have a sailor's hat on, and a very
ugly one at that? I think you said you came from school; are there
scholars there as large as you? I never knew that. How old are you
really?"

And so the maiden prattled on--and yet it was not prattling, for she
remained quite serious all the time, and it seemed to me that while she
talked her mind was far away; and her dark eyes but seldom were turned
to me, and then with but a momentary glance, as though I were no living
man, but an inanimate figure; and frequently she put a second question
without waiting for an answer to the first.

This suited me well, for thus at least I found courage to look at her
again and again, and at last scarcely turned my eyes from her. "You
will fall over there, if you do not take care," she suddenly said,
lightly touching my arm with her finger, as we stood on the verge of a
cliff. "It seems you are not easily made giddy."

"No, indeed," I answered.

"Let us go up there," she said.

Upon what was nearly the highest part of the promontory on which we
were, were the ruins of a castle, overgrown with thick bushes. But a
single massive tower, almost entirely covered with ivy, had defied the
power of the sea and of time. These were the ruins of the Zehrenburg,
to which Arthur had pointed yesterday, as we passed on the steamer; the
same tower on which I was to fix my gaze as I renounced in his favor
all pretensions to Emilie Heckepfennig. This I had passionately refused
to do--yesterday: what was Emilie Heckepfennig to me to-day?

The beautiful girl had taken her seat upon a mossy stone, and looked
fixedly into the distance. I stood beside her, leaning against the old
tower, and looked fixedly into her face.

"All that, once was ours," she said, slowly sweeping her hand round the
horizon; "and this, is all that remains."

She rose hastily, and began to descend a narrow path which led, through
broom and heather, from the heights down to the forest. I followed. We
came to the beech-wood again, and back to the tarn, where her book and
guitar still lay upon the bank. I was very proud when she gave me both
to carry, saying at the same time that the guitar had been her
mother's, and that she had never trusted it to any one before; but now
I should always carry this, her greatest treasure, for her, and she
would teach me to play and to sing, if I stayed with them. Or perhaps I
did not mean to stay with them?

I said that I could not tell, but I hoped so; and the thought of going
away fell heavy upon my heart.

We had now reached the castle. "Give me the guitar," she said, "but
keep the book: I know it by heart. Have you had breakfast? No? Poor,
poor George! it is lucky that no dragon met us; you would have been
hardly able to stand upon your feet."

A side-door, that I had not previously noticed, led to that part of the
ground-floor inhabited by the father and daughter. Constance called an
old female servant, and directed her to prepare me some breakfast, and
then she left me, after giving me her hand, with that melancholy
transient smile which I had already noted on her beautiful lips.



                              CHAPTER VII.


The breakfast which the ugly, taciturn old woman--whom Constance called
"Pahlen"--set before me after about half an hour, might well have been
ready in less time, for it consisted only of black bread, butter,
cheese, and a flask of cognac. The cognac was excellent; but the
remainder of the repast far from luxurious, for the bread was sour and
mouldy in spots, the butter rancid, and the cheese hard as a stone; but
what was that to a youth of nineteen, who had eaten nothing for twelve
hours, and whose silly heart, moreover, was palpitating with its first
passion! So it seemed to me that I had never had a more sumptuous
repast; and I thanked the old woman for her trouble with the utmost
politeness. "Pahlen" did not seem to know what to make of me. She
looked askance at me two or three times, with a sort of surly
curiosity; and to the questions that I put to her, replied with an
unintelligible grumbling, out of which I could make nothing.

The room in which I now found myself--it was the same into which Herr
von Zehren had conducted me on our first arrival--might, in comparison
with the deserted apartments of the upper story, be called habitable,
though the carpet under the table was ragged, several of the carved
oaken chairs were no longer firm upon their legs, and a great antique
buffet in one corner had decidedly seen better days. The windows opened
upon a court, into which, my breakfast once over, I cast a look. This
court was very spacious, the barns and stables that enclosed it of the
very largest dimensions, such as are only found on the most
considerable estates. So much the more striking was the silence that
prevailed in it. In the centre of the space was a dove-cot built of
stone, but no wings fluttered about it, unless perhaps those of a
passing swallow. There was a duck-pond without ducks, a dunghill upon
which no fowls were scratching--one peacock sat upon the broken
paling--everything seemed dead or departed. Here was no hurrying to and
fro of busy men, no lowing of cattle or neighing of horses--all was
vacant and silent; only from time to time the peacock on the paling
uttered his dissonant cry, and the sparrows twittered in the twigs of
an old linden.

As Constance did not return, and as Pahlen, to my question about the
dinner hour, responded by asking me if I now wanted dinner too, I came
to the conclusion that for some hours at least I would be left to my
own devices. I therefore walked into the court, and then perceived that
this part of the castle was an addition, which formed a continuation to
the main building, and had probably served as the manager's house. In
the castle the shutters on the ground floor were closed, and secured
with massive iron bars, a fact which did not by any means tend to give
the old pile a more cheerful appearance. That a manager's house had
long been a superfluous appendage, the surroundings plainly showed. In
truth, there was nothing here to manage; the buildings, which at a
distance still presented a tolerable appearance, proved, when near, to
be little better than crumbling ruins. The thatched roofs had sunk in
decay and were overgrown with moss, the ornamental work had dropped
away, the plaster peeled off in patches, the doors hung awry on their
rusted hinges, and in many places were entirely wanting. A stable into
which I looked had been originally built to accommodate forty horses;
now there stood in a corner four lean old brutes that set up a hungry
neighing as they saw me. As I came out again into the court, a wagon,
partly laden with corn and dragged by four other miserable jades, went
reeling over the broken stones of the pavement, and disappeared in the
yawning doorway of one of the immense barns, like a coffin in a vault.

I strolled further on, passing one or two dilapidated hovels, where
half-naked children were playing in the sand, and a couple of fellows,
more like bandits than farm-hands, were lounging, who stared at me with
looks half shy half insolent, and reached the fields. The sun shone
brightly enough, but it lighted up little that was pleasant to the eye:
waste land, with here and there scattering patches of sparse oats,
overgrown with blue cornflowers and scarlet poppies, a little rusted
wheat, an acre or so where the rye--late enough for the season--still
stood in slovenly sheaves, and where a second wagon was being laden by
two fellows of the same bandit appearance as the men at the hovels, and
who stared at me with the same surprised and skulking looks, without
answering my salutation. At some distance appeared through the trees
and bushes the roofs of farm-buildings, evidently upon another estate,
to which belonged, doubtless, the far better cultivated fields which I
had now reached. Further to the right, above a larger collection of
houses, arose the plain white steeple of a church. But I did not care
to push my exploration further: an impulse drew me back to the park,
which I reached by a circuitous route on the other side, for I wished
to avoid the castle and the grumbling old Pahlen.

I had hoped here to meet Constance again; but in vain did I listen more
than an hour under the trees and among the bushes, watching the castle
until I knew by heart nearly every broken tile upon the roof, and each
separate patch--and they were not few--where the rains of so many years
had detached the plaster and laid bare the stones beneath. No one was
to be seen; no sound was audible; while the afternoon sun gleamed upon
the window-panes, save when the shadow of a passing cloud swept over
them.

My spirits began to yield to the depressing influences of this scene of
sunlit desolation. I felt as if the silence, like an invisible magic
net, was folding around me closer and closer, until I scarcely ventured
to move--scarcely to speak. In place of the careless audacity, which
was my natural temperament, a deep sadness took possession of me. How
came I here? What was I to do here--what did I want here, where no one
troubled himself about me? Was not all that had happened to me since
yesterday only a dream, and had I not merely dreamed the beauteous
maiden with the dark eyes and strange smile?

A sense as of home-sickness came over me. I saw in fancy the town with
the narrow, crooked streets running between the old-fashioned gabled
houses; I saw my little room, to which I would have returned from
school by this time to fling my wearisome books upon the table and then
fly to my friend Arthur, who I knew had arranged a boat excursion in
the harbor. I saw my father sitting at the window of his bureau in the
excise-office, and crept close to the wall to avoid being seen by him.
How had my father borne my departure? Was he anxious about me?
Assuredly he was; for he still loved me, notwithstanding our mutual
alienation. What would he do when he learned--as sooner or later he
must learn--that I was with the wild Zehren? Would he allow me to stay?
Would he command me to return? Perhaps come for me himself?

As this thought came into my mind, I looked uneasily around. It would
be intolerable to have to go back to the stifling class-room, to be
scolded again, like a boy by Professor Lederer, and never more to see
Fräulein von Zehren Constance! Never would I endure it! My father had
driven me from his house; he might take the consequences. Rather than
go back, I would turn bandit--smuggler----

I do not know how the last word came upon my lips, but I remember--and
I have since often thought of it--that when I had uttered the word half
aloud, merely as a heroical phrase, without attaching any distinct
meaning to it, I suddenly started as if some one had spoken it in my
immediate vicinity; and at the same moment the adventures of the
previous night and what I had since observed, arranged themselves in a
definite connection, just as one looking through a telescope sees
heaven and earth blended together in dim confusion, until the right
focus is attained, when a distinct picture stands before him. How could
I have been so blind--so destitute of ordinary apprehension? Herr von
Zehren over at Pinnow's, the strange connection that manifestly existed
between the nobleman and the smith, Christel's warnings, Pinnow's
behavior towards me, and the night sail in the terrible storm! And then
this uncared-for house, this ruinous farm-yard, these desolated fields,
this neglected park! The solitary situation of the place, upon a
promontory extending far into the sea! I had learned already from
frequent conversations between my father and his colleagues in the
excise-office, how actively smuggling was carried on in these waters,
what a flourishing business it was, and how much might be made at it by
any one who was willing to peril his life upon occasion. All was clear
as day; this, and no other, was the solution of the mystery.

"You must be mad," I said to myself again, "completely mad. A nobleman
like Herr von Zehren! Such doings are for the rabble. Old Pinnow--yes,
yes, that is likely enough; but a Herr von Zehren--shame upon you!"

I endeavored with all my might to shake off a suspicion which was
really intolerable; and thus afforded another proof that we all,
however free we think ourselves, or perhaps have really become, still
ever in our feelings, if not in our thoughts, are bound by other
imperceptible but none the less firm ties to the impressions of our
childhood and early youth. Had my father been a king and I the
crown-prince, I should probably have seen the Evil One embodied in the
person of a revolutionist; or in a runaway slave, had I been the
descendant of a planter; so, as I had for a father a pedantically rigid
excise-officer, to my conceptions the most hideous of all stigmas was
affixed to the smuggler's career. Yet at the same time--and this will
seem surprising to no one who remembers the strange duplicate character
of the devil in the Christian mythology--this murky gate of Tophet, by
which my childish fancy had so often stolen at a timid distance, was
invested with a diabolical fascination. How could it be otherwise, when
I heard tell of the privations which the wretches often endured with
such fortitude, of the ingenuity with which they knew how to baffle the
utmost vigilance of the officers, of the fearlessness with which they
not seldom confronted the most imminent peril? These were perilous
stories to reach the ear of an adventurous boy; but far too many such
were talked over in our town; and what was the worst of all, I had
heard the most terrible and most fascinating from the lips of my own
father--naturally with an appendix of indignant reprobation always
tacked on in form of a moral; but this antidote was, of a surety, never
sufficient entirely to neutralize the poison. Had not Arthur and I,
shortly before an examination in which we had the most confident
assurance that we should cut but a poor figure, for a whole day taken
earnest counsel together over the question whether we, in case we
failed--or better yet, before standing the trial--should not turn
smugglers ourselves, until we actually were scared at our own plans?
That had been four years ago; but, although in the meantime the
vehement antipathies and sympathies of youth had been moderated by
maturer reason, still the thought of having fallen into the hands of a
smuggler had even now the effect of making my heart beat violently.

"You must be mad--stark mad! Such a man--it is not possible!" I
continually repeated to myself, as I hurried along the path I had
followed that morning--for indeed I then knew no other--through the
park into the forest, until I again reached the tarn with the bank of
moss.

I gazed into the calm black water; I thought of the unhappy lady who
had drowned herself there because she could not find the way back to
Spain, and how strange it was that her daughter should select precisely
this spot for her favorite resting-place. Behind the bank lay her other
glove, for which we had looked in vain in the morning. I kissed it
repeatedly, with a thrill of delight, and placed it in my bosom. Then
leaving the place hastily I ascended the cliff, and passing the ruined
tower, went out to the furthest extremity of the promontory, which was
also its highest point. Approaching the verge, I looked over. A strong
breeze had sprung up; the streaks of foam lying among the great rocks
and countless pebbles of the beach had grown broader; and here and
there upon the blue expanse flashed the white crest of a breaker. The
mainland lay towards the south-west. I could have seen the steeples of
my native town but for a cliff that intervened, rising abruptly from
the sea, and now of a steel-blue color in the afternoon light. "And
this is all that remains!" I said, repeating the words of Constance, as
my eye, in turning, fell upon the ruined tower.

I descended and threw myself down upon the soft moss that grew among
the ruins. No place could have been found more fit to inspire fantastic
reveries. The wide expanse of sky, and beyond the edge of the upland a
great stretch of sea, and the nodding broom around me! In the sky the
fleecy clouds, on the water a gleaming sail, and in the broom the
whispering wind! How luxurious to lie idly here and dream--the sweetest
dream of sweet love that loves idleness: a dream, of course, full of
combats and peril, such as naturally fills a youthful fancy. Yes! I
would be her deliverer; would bear her in my arms from this desolate
castle, a dismal dungeon for one so young and so fair--would rescue her
from this terrible father, and these ruins would I erect again into a
stately palace; and when the work was done and the topmost battlements
burned in the evening-red, would lead her in, and kneeling humbly
before her, say, "This is thine! Live happy! Me thou wilt never see
more!"

Thus I wove the web of fancy, while the sun sank towards the horizon,
and the white clouds of noon began to flush with crimson. What else
could I have done? A young fellow who has just run away from school,
who has not a _thaler_ in his pocket, and a borrowed hat on, and who
scarcely knows where he shall lay his head--what else can he do but
build castles in the air?



                             CHAPTER VIII.


As I entered the court through a little door in the park-wall, there
stood a light wagon from which the horses were being unharnessed, and
by the wagon a man in hunting-dress, his gun upon his shoulder--it was
Herr von Zehren.

I had planned to assume towards my host a sort of diplomatic attitude;
but I never was a good actor, and had had, besides, so little time to
get up the part, that the friendly smile and cordial grasp of the hand
with which Herr von Zehren received me, completely threw me out, and I
met his smile and returned his grasp with as much fervor as if I had
all day been waiting for the moment when I should see my friend and
protector: in a word, I was entirely in the power of the charm with
which this singular man had, from the first moment of our meeting,
captivated my young and inexperienced heart.

But in truth a maturer understanding than mine might well have been
ensnared by the charm of his manner. Even his personal appearance had
for me something fascinating; and as he stood there, laughing and
jesting with the setting sun lighting up a face which seemed really to
have grown young again from the excitement of his day's sport, and as
he took off his cap and pushed the soft fine locks, already touched
with gray, from his nobly-formed brow, and stroked his thick brown
beard, I thought I had never seen a handsomer man.

"I came to your bedside this morning," he said, in a sportive manner;
"but you slept so soundly that I had not the heart to waken you. Though
if I had known that you could handle a gun as well as you can rudder
and halyards--and yet I might have known it, for fishing and shooting
and--something else besides--go together, like sitting by the stove and
sleeping. But we will make up for it: we have, thank heaven, more than
one day's shooting before us. And now come in and let us talk while
supper is getting ready."

The room which Herr von Zehren occupied was in the front part of the
building, just in the rear of the dining-room, and his sleeping
apartment immediately adjoined it. He entered the latter, and conversed
with me through the open door, keeping all the while such a clattering
with jugs, basins, and other apparatus of ablution, that I had some
difficulty in understanding what he was saying. I made out, however,
that he had this morning written to his brother, the steuerrath,
requesting him to apprise my father where I was now staying. My father
certainly would not be sorry to hear that I had found shelter in the
house of a friend, at least until some arrangement could be effected.
In similar circumstances, he said, a temporary separation often
prevented a perpetual one. And even should this not be the case here,
at all events--here his head dipped into the water, and I lost the
remainder of the sentence. Under any circumstances--he was saying when
he became again intelligible--it would be as well if I mentioned to no
one where it was that we had happened to meet. We might have met upon
the road, as I was about to be ferried over to the island. What was to
prevent a young man, whose father had just driven him from his house,
from going, if he pleased, as far as the blue sky spread overhead? and
why should he not meet a gentleman who has a vacant place in his
carriage, and asks the young man if he will not get in? This was all
very simple and natural. And in fact this was the way he had stated the
circumstances in his letter to his brother this morning. He had given
old Pinnow his cue yesterday evening. And besides, the question of
where and how was really nobody's affair. He added some further remarks
with his head inside his wardrobe, but I only caught the word
"inconveniences."

I felt relieved from a load of anxiety. My frightful dream of the
morning, of which I had not thought during the whole day, had recurred
to my memory in the dusk of the evening twilight. For a moment an
apprehension seized me that my father might think I had made away with
myself; but it was but for a moment, for youth finds it so unlikely
that others will take things more seriously than it does itself. One
point, however, was clear: that I must give some account of myself to
my father. But at this thought the old misery came back; I could, in
any event, no longer stay here. And now I suddenly saw a way of escape
from this labyrinth. The steuerrath, being his immediate chief, was, as
I well knew, looked upon by my loyal and zealous father as a kind of
superior being; indeed he knew upon earth but four other beings
higher than himself; the Provincial Excise-Director, the General
Excise-Director, His Excellency the Minister of Commerce, next to whom
came His Majesty the King--which latter, however, was a being of
distinct and peculiar kind, and separated, even from an excellency, by
a vast chasm. If, therefore, Herr von Zehren wished to keep me with
him, and the steuerrath would use his influence with my father--but
would he? The steuerrath had never liked me much; and besides, the
evening before, I had deeply offended him. I expressed my doubts on
this point to Herr von Zehren. "I will make that all right," he said,
as, rubbing his freshly washed hands, he came out of his chamber.

"And now then," he went on, stretching himself luxuriously in an
easy-chair, "how have you spent the day? Have you seen my daughter?
Yes? Then you may boast of your luck--many a time I do not see her for
days together. And have you had something to eat? Poor fare enough, I
warrant; the provision is but indifferent when I am at home, but
execrable when I am away. Moonshine and beefsteak are two things that
do not suit together. When I want good fare, I must go from home.
Yesterday evening, for example, at old Pinnow's--wasn't it capital?
Romantic too, eh? Friar Tuck and the Black Knight, and you besides as
the Disinherited Knight. I love such little adventures above
everything."

And he stretched himself at ease in his great chair, and laughed so
joyously that I mentally asked his pardon for my suspicions, and
pronounced myself a complete fool to have had such an idea enter my
brain.

He went on chatting: asked me many questions about my father, my
family, the past events of my life, all in a tone of such friendly
interest that no one could have taken it amiss. He seemed to be much
pleased with my answers; nor did I take offence again when, as he had
done the evening before, he broke into loud laughter at some of my
remarks. But when this happened, he was always careful to soothe my
sensitiveness with a kind word or two. I felt assured that he meant
well towards me; and to this day I have remained in the conviction that
from the first moment he had conceived a hearty liking for me, and that
if it was a mere caprice that drew him towards a young man who needed
assistance, it was one of those caprices of which none but naturally
generous hearts are capable.

"But what keeps our supper so long?" he cried, springing up impatiently
and looking into the dining-room. "Ah! there you are, Constance!"

He went in; through the half-open door I heard him speaking in a low
tone with his daughter; my heart beat, I could not tell why.

"Well, why do you not come?" he called to me from the dining-room. I
went in; by the table, that to my unaccustomed eye seemed richly
spread, stood Constance. The light of the hanging lamp fell upon her
from above. Whether it was the different light, or the different
arrangement of her hair, which was now combed upwards, so as to rest
upon her head like a dark crown, with a golden ribbon interwoven in it,
or her different attire--now a plain blue close-fitting dress, cut low
at the neck, which was covered by a wide lace collar, worn somewhat
like a handkerchief--whether it was all these together, and in addition
the changed expression of her face, which had now something
indescribably childlike about it, I cannot say; but I scarcely
recognized her again; I could have believed that the Constance I had
seen in the morning was the older, more impassioned sister of this fair
maidenly creature.

"Last half of the previous century," said Herr von Zehren--"Lotte, eh?
You only want a sash, and perhaps a Werther--otherwise superb!"

A shadow passed over the face of Constance, and her brows contracted. I
had not entirely understood the allusion, but it pained me. Constance
seemed so fair to me; how could any one who saw her say aught else but
that she was fair?

Gladly would I have said it, but I had scarcely the courage to look at
her, let alone speak to her; and she, for her part, was silent and
abstracted; the dishes she hardly touched; and indeed now I cannot
remember ever to have seen her eat. In truth, the meal, composed of
fish and pheasants which Herr von Zehren had brought in from his day's
shooting, was of a kind only suited to his own appetite, which was as
keen as a sportsman's usually is. During supper he drank freely of the
excellent red wine, and often challenged me to pledge him; and indeed
he directed his vivacious and genial conversation almost exclusively to
me. I was fairly dazzled by it; and as there was much that I only half
understood, and much that I did not understand at all, it sometimes
happened that I laughed in the wrong place, which only increased his
mirth. One thing, however, I saw clearly; the constrained, not to say
hostile, relations between father and daughter. Things of this kind are
easily perceived, especially when the observer is as well prepared as
was I to catch the meaning lurking under the apparent indifference of a
hasty question, and to mark the unnecessarily prolonged pause which
preceded the answer, and the irritated tone in which it followed. For
it had not been so long since my father and I had sat together in the
same way; when I used to thank heaven in my heart if any lucky chance
relieved us sooner than usual of each other's presence. Here I should
have been a disinterested spectator had I not been so inordinately in
love with the daughter, and had not the father, by his brilliancy and
amiability, obtained such a mastery over me. So my heart, shared
between them both, was torn asunder by their division; and if a few
hours before I had formed the heroic resolution to protect the lovely
and unhappy daughter from her terrible father, I was now fixed like a
rock in my conviction that to me had fallen the sublime mission to join
these two glorious beings again in an indissoluble bond of love. That
it would have better become me to go back to the door of a certain
small house in Uselin, where dwelt an old man whom I had so deeply
wounded--of that I never for a moment thought.

I breathed quick with expectation as a carriage came rattling over the
broken pavement of the court and stopped at the door. It was a visitor
whom Herr von Zehren had said he was expecting; a fellow-sportsman and
the owner of an adjoining estate, who brought with him a friend who was
staying at his house, and who had been out with them shooting.
Constance had at once arisen from the table, and was about to leave the
room, in spite of her father's request, uttered in a tone that almost
made it a command, "I beg that you will remain!" when the gentlemen
entered. One was a tall, broad-shouldered, fair young man, with
handsome, regular features, and a pair of large, prominent blue eyes
that stared out into the world with a sort of good-natured
astonishment. My host introduced him to me as Herr Hans von Trantow.
The other, a short, round figure, whose head, with its sloping brow,
and almost deficient occiput, was so small as to leave scarce a hand's
breadth of room for his close-cropped, stiff brown hair, and whose
short turned-up nose, and immense mouth, always open, and furnished
with large white teeth, gave their possessor a more than passing
resemblance to a bull-dog--was called Herr Joachim von Granow. He had
been an officer in the army, and on his succession, a few months
before, to a handsome fortune, had purchased an estate in the
neighborhood.

Constance had found herself compelled to remain, for the little Herr
von Granow had at once turned upon her with an apparently inexhaustible
flood of talk, and the bulky Herr von Trantow remained standing
immovable so near the open door that it was not easy to pass him. From
the first moment of seeing them I felt a strong antipathy to them both:
to the little one because he ventured to approach so near to Constance,
and to talk so much; and to the large one, who did not speak, indeed,
but stared steadily at her with his glassy eyes, which seemed to me a
still more offensive proceeding.

"We have had but a poor day's sport," said the little one in a
squeaking voice to Constance; "but day before yesterday, at Count
Griebenow's, we had an uncommonly splendid time. Whenever a covey rose
I was right among them; three times I brought down a brace--right and
left barrels; and that I call shooting. They were as jealous of me--I
expected to be torn to pieces. Even the prince lost his temper. 'You
have the devil's own luck, Granow,' he kept saying. 'Young men must
have some luck,' I answered. 'But I am younger than you,' said he.
'Your highness does not need any luck,' said I. 'Why not?' 'To be a
Prince of Prora-Wiek is luck enough of itself' Wasn't that a capital
hit?" and he shook with laughter at his own wit, and shrugged his round
shoulders until they nearly swallowed his little head.

"The prince was there, then?" Constance said.

It was the first word she had uttered in reply to the small man's
chatter. Perhaps this was the reason that I, who had been standing by,
taking no interest in what was said--Herr von Zehren had left the room,
and Herr von Trantow still held his post at the door--suddenly gave all
my attention to the conversation.

"Yes indeed; did you not know it?" said the little man. "To be sure,
your father does not come to the shooting at Griebenow's; but I
supposed Trantow would have told you."

"Herr von Trantow and I are not accustomed to keep each other _au
courant_ of our adventures," answered Constance.

"Indeed!" said Herr von Granow, "is it possible? Yes; as I was going on
to say, the prince was there: he is going to be betrothed to the young
Countess Griebenow, they say. At all events, he has fixed his quarters
at Rossow; the only one of his estates in this part of the country, you
know, that has anything like a suitable residence, and then besides it
lies very handy to Griebenow. A capital opportunity--if a prince ever
needs an opportunity. But that is only for us poor devils--ha! ha!
ha!"--and the little fellow's head again nearly disappeared into his
shoulders.

I was standing near enough to hear every word and observe every look,
and I had clearly perceived that as Herr von Granow mentioned the young
prince, Constance, who had been standing half-turned away from the
speaker, with an inattentive, rather annoyed expression, suddenly
turned and fixed her eyes upon him, while a deep blush suffused her
cheeks. I had afterwards sufficient reason to remember this fact, but
at the moment had not time to ponder over it, as Herr von Zehren now
returned with the cigars for which he had gone; and Constance, after
offering Herr von Granow the tips of her fingers, giving me her hand
with great apparent cordiality, and saluting Herr von Trantow, who
stood, as ever, silent and motionless at the door, with a distant,
scarcely perceptible bow, at once left the room.

As the door closed behind her, Herr von Trantow passed his hand over
his brow, and then turned his large eyes on me, as he slowly approached
me. I returned, as defiantly as I was able, his look, in which I
fancied I read a dark menace, and stood prepared for whatever might
happen, when he suddenly stopped before me, his staring eyes still
fixed upon my face.

"This is my young friend of whom I was speaking to you, Hans," said
Herr von Zehren, coming up to us. "Do you think you can manage him?"

Von Trantow shrugged his shoulders.

"You see I have laid a wager with Hans that you are the stronger of the
two," our host continued. "He is counted the strongest man in all this
part of the country; so I held it my duty to bring so formidable a
rival to his notice."

"But not this evening," said Hans, offering me his hand. It was just as
when a great mastiff, of whom we are not sure whether he will bite or
not, suddenly sits on his haunches before us, and lays his great paw on
our knees. I took it without an instant's hesitation.

"Heaven forbid!" said Herr von Zehren to Trantow's remark. "My young
friend will make a long stay with me, I trust. He wishes to learn the
management of a country place; and where could he sooner attain his
object than upon such a model estate as mine?"

He laughed as he said it. Von Granow exclaimed, "Very good!" the silent
Hans, said nothing, and I stood confused. Von Zehren, in our previous
conversation, had made no allusion to my staying with him as a pupil.
Why had he not done so? It was one of the happiest of ideas, I thought,
and one that at once cleared away all the difficulties of my position.
As for his "model estate," why might I not succeed in changing this
ironical phrase to a real description? Yes; here I had a new mission,
which went hand in hand with the other: to reconcile father and
daughter, to reclaim the ruined estate, to rebuild the castle of their
ancestors--in a word, to be the good genius, the guardian angel of the
family.

All this passed through my mind as the gentlemen took their seats at
the card-table; and with my brain still busy with the thought, I left
the room, under the pretext of wanting a little fresh air, and strolled
about the now familiar paths among the dark shrubbery of the park. The
moon was not yet up, but a glimmer on the eastern horizon showed that
she was rising. The stars twinkled through the warm air that was
ascending from the earth. There was a rustling and whispering in bush
and copse, and a screech-owl at intervals broke the silence with her
cry. From one of the windows on the ground-floor of the castle came a
faint light, and the breeze brought to my ear the notes of a guitar. I
could not withstand the temptation, and crept with hushed breath,
startled at the least noise that my footsteps made, nearer and nearer,
until I reached the stone balustrade which surrounded the wide, low
terrace. I now perceived that the light came from an open casement,
through which I could see into a dimly-lighted room. Thick curtains
were dropped before the two windows to the right and left. From the
place where I stood I could not see the occupant, and I was hesitating,
with a beating heart, whether I should venture to advance, when she
suddenly appeared at the open casement. Not to be discovered, I
crouched close behind a great stone vase.

Her fingers glided over the strings of her guitar, trying first one
note and then another, then striking an uncertain chord or two, as if
she were trying to catch a melody. Presently the chords were struck
more firmly, and she sang:


           "All day long the bright sun loves me,
              Woos me with his glowing light;
            But I better love the gentle
                  Stars of night.

            From the boundless deep above me
              Come their calm and tender beams,
            Bringing to my wayward fancy
                  Sweetest dreams.

            Sweetest dreams of love unending,
              Bitter tears for love undone;
            For the dearest, for the fairest,
                  Only one.

            Falsest-hearted, only chosen--
              Soon the short-lived dream was o'er--
            He is gone, and I am lonely
                  Evermore."


The last words were sung in a broken voice, and she now leaned her head
against the casement-frame, and I heard her sobbing. My agitation was
so great that I forgot the precaution which my situation demanded, and
a stone which I had dislodged from the crumbling edge of the terrace
rolled down the slope. Constance started, and called with an unsteady
voice, "Who is there?" I judged it more prudent to discover myself, and
approached her, saying that it was I.

"Ah, it is you, then," she said.

"I entreat you to forgive me. The music of your guitar attracted me. I
know I ought not to have come: pray forgive me."

I stood near her; the light from the room fell brightly upon her face
and her eyes, which were lifted to mine.

"How kind you are," she said in a soft voice; "or are you not dealing
truly with me?"

I could not trust myself to answer, but she knew how to interpret my
silence aright.

"Yes," she said, "you are my trusty squire, my faithful George. If I
were to say to you: watch this terrace tonight until the break of day,
you would do it, would you not?"

"Yes," I answered.

She looked in my face and smiled. "How sweet it is--how sweet to know
that there is one creature upon earth that is true to us!"

She gave me her hand; my own trembled as I took it.

"But I do not ask anything of the kind," she said; "only this one
thing, that you will not go away except by your own determination, and
not without my permission. You promise? That is so kind of you! And now
go; good-night!"

She lightly pressed my hand before letting it go, and then re-entered
her room. As I turned away I heard the casement close.

I stood under one of the great trees of the park and looked back
towards the house. The moon had risen above the trees, and the great
mass of buildings stood out in bolder relief against the dark
background; a faint light occasionally appeared and vanished in one of
the windows of the upper story. The light from Constance's window came
towards me with that magic lustre which shines upon us once in our
lives, and only once.

The lawn before me lay in deep shadow; but just as the first rays of
the moon began to illuminate it, I thought I perceived a figure, which,
coming from the other side, was slowly approaching Constance's window.
In this there was nothing to excite suspicion, for it might be one of
the laborers; but it is the duty of a faithful squire to make sure in
any case; so without a moment's hesitation I started across the lawn to
meet the figure. Unluckily I stepped upon a dry twig and it snapped.
The figure stopped instantly, and began to retreat with swift, stealthy
steps. He had but little start of me, but the thick coppice which
closed in the lawn on that side, and was the limit of the park, was so
near that he reached it a few moments before me. I distinctly heard
some one pushing through the branches, but with my utmost exertions I
could not reach him. I began to think that my ear had led me in a wrong
direction, when suddenly a loud crashing and clattering close at hand
proved that I was on the right track. The man was evidently clambering
over the rotten paling which fenced in the park on this side. Now I
knew he could not escape me. On the other side lay a wide open space,
and I had never yet met the man whom I could not overtake in a fair
race. But at the instant that I reached the paling, I heard a horse's
feet, and looking up saw a rider galloping across the open in the clear
moonlight. The horse was evidently one of great power and speed. At
each stride he cleared such a stretch of ground, that in less than half
a minute horse and rider were lost to sight; for a brief space I still
heard the sound of the hoofs, and then that also ceased. The whole
adventure passed in so little time, that I might have fancied I had
dreamed it all, but for the evidence of my heart beating violently with
excitement and the exertion of the chase, and the smarting of my hands,
which were torn by the thorns and briers.

Who could the audacious intruder be? Certainly not an ordinary thief;
doubtless some one who had been attracted by the light from Constance's
window, and not to-night for the first time; it was plain that he had
often followed that path in the dark.

That it was a favored lover, I did not for a moment suppose. Such a
surmise would have seemed to me an outrage, and upon one, too, whose
dreamy eyes, whose melancholy song, and whose tears rather told of an
unhappy than of a requited attachment. But they surely told of love.
Not that I was presumptuous enough to indulge in any hope, or even
wish; how could I dare to lift my eyes to her? I could only live and
die for her, and perhaps another time break the neck of the rash mortal
who had dared under cover of the night to approach her sanctuary.

This idea somewhat solaced my dejection, but my former happiness had
departed never to return. It was with a heavy sense of anxiety and
apprehension that I re-entered the room where the gentlemen were still
at the card-table.

They had commenced with whist, but were now engaged at faro. Von Zehren
held the bank, and seemed to have been winning largely. In a plate
before him lay a great heap of silver, with some gold, and this plate
lay on another which was filled with crumpled treasury notes. The two
guests had already lost their ready money, and from time to time they
handed over bills, which went to swell the pile of notes, and received
in exchange larger or smaller sums, which evinced a strong proclivity
to return to the source from which they sprang. Herr von Trantow
appeared to bear his ill-luck with great equanimity. His good-natured
handsome face was as passionless as before, only perhaps a shade or two
deeper in color, and his great blue eyes rather more staring. But this
might very well be the effect of the wine he had been drinking, of
which they had already emptied at least half-a-dozen bottles. Herr von
Granow's nerves were less fitted to bear the slings and arrows of
outrageous fortune. He would at times start up from his chair, then
fall back into it; swore sometimes aloud, sometimes softly to himself,
and was plainly in the very worst of humors, to the secret delight, as
I thought, of Herr von Zehren, whose brown eyes twinkled with amusement
as he politely expressed his regret whenever he was compelled to gather
in the little man's money.

I had taken my seat near the players, in order better to watch the
chances of the game, of which I had sufficient knowledge from furtive
school-boy experiences, when Herr von Zehren pushed over to me a pile
of bank-notes which he had just won, saying, "You must join us."

"Excuse me," I stammered.

"Why so punctilious about a trifle?" he asked. "There is no need for
you to go to your room for money; here is enough."

He knew that my whole stock of cash did not amount to quite a _thaler_,
for I had told him so the previous evening. I blushed crimson, but had
not the courage to contradict my kind host's generous falsehood. I drew
up my chair with the air of a man who has no wish to spoil sport, and
began to play.

Cautiously at first, with small stakes, and with the firm determination
to remain perfectly cool; but before long the fever of gaming began to
fire my brain. My heart beat ever quicker and quicker, my head and my
eyes seemed burning. While the cards were dealing I poured down glass
after glass of wine to moisten my parched throat, and it was with a
shaking hand that I gathered up my winnings. And I won almost
incessantly; if a card was turned against me, the next few turns
brought me in a three-fold or a five-fold gain. My agitation almost
suffocated me as the money before me increased to a larger sum than I
had ever before seen in a heap--two or three hundred _thalers_, as I
estimated it in my mind.

Presently my luck came to a pause. I ceased winning, but did not lose;
and then I began to lose slowly at first, then faster and faster. Cold
chills ran over me, as one after another of the large notes passed into
the banker's hands; but I took care not to imitate the behavior of Herr
von Granow, which had struck me so repulsively. Like Herr von Trantow,
I lost without the slightest change of countenance, and my calmness was
praised by my host, who continued encouraging me. My stock of money had
melted away to one-half, when Hans von Trantow declared with a yawn
that he was too tired to play any longer. Von Granow said it was not
late; but the candles burnt to the sockets, and the great clock on the
wall, which pointed to three, told a different story. The two guests
lighted fresh cigars, and drove off in their carriages, which had long
been waiting at the door, after having arranged a shooting expedition,
in which I was to join, for the following day.

My host and I returned to the room, which reeked with the fumes of wine
and the smoke of cigars, where old Christian, for whom the difference
between night and day seemed to have no existence, was busy clearing
up. Von Zehren threw open the window and looked out. I joined him; he
laid his hand upon my shoulder and said: "How gloriously the stars are
shining, and how delicious the air is! And there"--he pointed back into
the room, "how horrible--disgusting--stifling! Why cannot one play faro
by starlight, inhaling the perfume of wall-flowers and mignonette? And
why, after every merry night, must repentance come in the form of an
old man shaking his head as he counts the emptied bottles and sweeps up
the ashes? How stupid it is; but we must not give ourselves gray hairs
fretting about it--they will come soon enough of themselves. And now do
you go to bed. I see you have a hundred things on your mind, but
to-morrow is a new day, and if not--so much the better. Good-night, and
pleasant rest."

But it was long ere my host's kind wish was accomplished. A real
witch-sabbath of beautiful and hideous figures danced in the wildest
gyrations before my feverish, half-sleeping, half-waking eyes:
Constance, her father, his guests, the dark form in the park, my
father, Professor Lederer, and Smith Pinnow--and all appealing to me to
save them from some danger or other;--Professor Lederer especially from
two thick lexicons, which were really two great oysters that gaped with
open shells at the lean professor, while the commerzienrath stood in
the background, nearly dying with laughter:--and all whirling and
swarming together, and caressing and threatening, and charming and
terrifying me, until at last, as the gray dawn began to light the
ragged hangings of the chamber, a profound slumber dispersed the
phantoms.



                              CHAPTER IX.


If, according to the unanimous report of travellers by that route, the
road to hell is paved with good intentions, I am convinced that several
square rods of it are my work, and that the greater part of it was laid
down in the first fortnight of my stay at Zehrendorf. There could,
indeed, scarcely have been a place where everything essential to this
easy and pleasant occupation was provided in ampler abundance. Wherever
one went, or stood, or turned the eyes, there lay the materials ready
to hand; and I was too young, too inexperienced, and I will venture to
add, too good-hearted, not to fall to work with all my energy. Of what
unspeakable folly I was guilty in undertaking to set right the
disordered and disjointed world in which I was now moving, after I had
already shown that I could not adjust myself to the correct and orderly
world from which I came--this thought did not seize me till long
afterwards.

No; I was thoroughly convinced of my sublime mission; and I thanked my
propitious star that had so gloriously brought me from the harsh
slavery of the school and of my father's house, where I was pining
away; from the oppressive bonds of Philistine associations which
hampered the free flight of my heroic soul, into this freedom of the
desert which seemed to have no bounds, and behind which must lie a
Canaan which I was gallantly resolved to conquer--a land flowing with
the milk of friendship and with the honey of love.

True, the letter which soon arrived, with a great box containing my
personal chattels, from my father to Herr von Zehren, for a while gave
me pause. The letter comprised but very few lines, to the effect that
he--my father--was fully convinced of the impossibility of ever leading
me by his road to any good end, and that he was compelled to give me
over, for weal or woe, to my own devices; only hoping that my
disobedience and my obstinacy might not be visited upon me too heavily.
Herr von Zehren showed me the letter, and as he observed my grave look
upon reading it, asked me, "Do you wish to go back?" adding
immediately, "Do not do it. That is no place for you. The old gentleman
wanted to make a draught-horse out of you, but, tall and strong as you
are, that is not your vocation. You are a hunter, for whom no ditch is
too wide, and no hedge too high. Come along! I saw a covey of some two
dozen over in the croft; we will have them before dinner."

He was right, I thought. I felt that my father had given me up too
soon, that he might have allowed me one chance more, and that, as it
was, he had forfeited the right to threaten me in addition with the
retribution of heaven. And yet it pained me, when an hour or so later
Herr von Zehren, who had used up all his wads, took my father's letter
from his pocket, and tearing it up, rammed it down both barrels of his
gun, with the jesting phrase that necessity knows no law. I could not
help feeling as if some misfortune would happen. But the gun did not
burst, the birds dropped, and nothing remained of the letter but a
smouldering scrap which fell in some dry stubble, and upon which Herr
von Zehren set his foot as he thrust the birds into his game-bag.

If I had any doubt left whether I was right in setting myself upon my
own feet, as I phrased it, a letter which I received from Arthur was
only too well adapted to confirm me in my notions of my finally-won
liberty.

"A lucky dog you always were," he wrote. "You run away from school, and
they let you go, as if it was a matter of course; while me they catch
as if I were a runaway slave, cram me in the dungeon for three days,
every hour cast up to me my disgraceful conduct, and in every way make
my life a perfect misery to me. Even my father carries on as if I was
guilty of heaven knows what; only mamma is sensible, and says I mustn't
take it too much to heart, and that papa will have to come round, or
the professor will not let me go into the upper class, and there will
be more botherations. It is really a shame that I, just because my
uncle, the commerzienrath, wills it so, must go through the final
examination, while Albert von Zitzewitz, no older than I, is at the
cadets' school, and has a pair of colors already. What has my uncle to
do with me, anyhow? Papa says that he will not be able to support me
during my lieutenancy without the help he expects from my uncle; and
that is likely too, for things get tighter with us every day, and papa
went quite wild yesterday when he had to pay sixteen _thalers_ for a
glove-bill of mine. If mamma did not help me now and then, I don't know
what I should do; but she has nothing, and said to me only yesterday
that she did not know what would happen at New Year, when all the bills
came in.

"Now you might help me out of all this trouble. Papa says that Uncle
Malte never looks at money when he happens to have any, and anybody
that would hit the lucky moment might get as much from him as they
pleased. You, lucky fellow, are now with him all the time, and you
might watch your chance, for the sake of an old friend, and slip in a
good word for me. Or better, tell him that you have some old debts that
you are worried about, and wouldn't he lend you fifty or a hundred
_thalers_, and then do you send it to me, for you can't want it, you
know. You'll never come back here, whatever happens, for you cannot
imagine the way people here talk about you. Lederer prays an extra five
minutes every day for the strayed lamb--that's what he calls you, you
old sinner. Justizrath Heckepfennig said that if ever it was written in
a mortal's face that he would die in his shoes, it is in yours. In
Emilie's coterie it was resolved to tear out of all their albums the
leaves on which you had immortalized yourself; and at my uncle's, day
before yesterday, there was a regular scene about you. Uncle said at
the table that you must take powerfully long strides if you meant to
outrun the ---- and here he made a sign, you understand, at which
Hermine began to cry terribly, and Fräulein Duff said it was a shame to
talk that way before a child. So you see you have a pair of firm
friends among the females. You always did have, and have still, the
most unaccountable luck in that quarter. Don't break my pretty cousin's
heart, you lucky dog!

"P. S.--Papa once told me that Constance gets a small sum of money
every year from an old Spanish aunt of hers. She certainly has no use
for it. Maybe you could coax something from her--at all events, you
might look into the matter a little."

As soon as I had read this letter, which offered me such an opportunity
of heaping coals of fire on the head of my still-loved friend, I
resolved to help him out of his difficulties with a part of the money I
had won on that first evening; but this intention, which I cannot
maintain to have been in any sense a good one, was destined never to be
carried into execution. For the same evening Herr von Zehren gave his
guests their revenge at Hans von Trantow's, and I lost not only all the
money I had won with such palpitations, to the very last _thaler_, but
a considerable sum besides, which my obliging host, who was again the
winner, had forced upon me. This ill fortune, which I might have
foreseen if I had had a grain more sense, struck me as a heavy blow. In
spite of my frivolity, I had always been scrupulously conscientious in
my small money-matters; had always paid my insignificant debts
cheerfully and as promptly as possible; and as we were driving home at
daybreak after this unlucky evening, I felt more wretched than I had
ever done before. How could I ever be in a position to pay such a
sum--especially now that I had resolved never again to touch a card?
How could I venture in broad daylight to look into the face of the man
to whom I was already under so many obligations?

Herr von Zehren, who was in the best of humors, laughed aloud when,
after some urging on his part, I confessed to him my trouble. "My dear
George," said he--he had taken to calling me George altogether--"don't
take it amiss, but you really are too absurd. Why, man, do you really
think that I would for one instant hold you responsible for what you
did at my express request? Whoever lends money to minors, does it, as
everybody knows, at his own risk, and you certainly remember that I
forced the money upon you. And why did I do it? Simply because it gave
me pleasure, and because I liked to see your honest, glowing face
across the table, and to compare it with Granow's hang-dog look and
Trantow's stony stare. And when a young fellow that is my valued guest,
to please me, accompanies me out shooting, or to the faro-table, and he
has no money and no gun, it is right and fair and a matter of course
that I should place my gun-room and purse at his disposal. And now say
no more about the trifle, and give me a cigar if we have any left."

I gave him his cigar-case, which he had handed over to my keeping, and
murmured that his kindness crushed me to the earth, and that my only
consolation was in the trust that an opportunity might yet offer of my
repaying the obligation in some way or other. He laughed again at this,
and said I was as proud as Lucifer, but he liked me all the better for
it; and as for the possibility of my repaying the obligation, as I
called it, he was a man in whose life accidents and lucky hits and
mishaps and chances of all kinds had played so important a part, that
it would be a wonder if, among all the rest, the chance I so longed for
did not turn up. So until then we would let the matter rest.

In this airy way he tried to quiet the twinges of my conscience, but he
only succeeded in part; and I went to sleep, and awaked a couple of
hours later, with the resolution to set decisively about the execution
of another resolution, namely, in my capacity of pupil to devote myself
to the neglected estate; to acquire, with the utmost possible dispatch,
a complete insight into all matters of rural economy, and by the help
of this knowledge and of untiring diligence, and the exertion of all
my faculties, to change this ruined place in the shortest possible
time--say one or two years--into a paradise, and so relieve my kind
host from the necessity of winning at the card-table the resources
which he could not win from his fields.

I at once devoted my attention to the forlorn-looking stables, to the
cattle-sheds, only tenanted by a few wretched specimens of the bovine
genus, and to a score of melancholy sheep; so that Herr von Zehren, who
had an acute sense of the comic, could never get done laughing at me,
until an incident occurred which gave him an opportunity of speaking a
serious word with me, which to a certain extent damped the ardor of my
economical studies.

That old man whom I met in the park on the first day after my arrival
(whose real name was Christian Halterman, though he always went by the
name of Old Christian), in his capacity of under-bailiff, and in
default of a master who paid any attention to the management, and of a
head-bailiff, a post that was not filled--was the wretched chief of the
whole wretched establishment. Such orders as were given emanated from
him; though it required no extraordinary perspicuity of vision to see
that of the whole bandit-looking gang that called themselves laborers,
every man did just what pleased him. When the old man, as I had once or
twice seen, fell into an impotent rage, and more to relieve his wrath
than in the hope of any effectual result, scolded and stormed in his
singular, creaking, parrot-like voice, they laughed in his wrinkled
face and kept on their own way, or sometimes even openly insulted him.
Their ringleader in this insolence was a certain John Swart, commonly
called "Long Jock," a great, tall, broad-shouldered fellow, with long
arms like an ape's, whose physiognomy would probably have appeared to
Justizrath Heckepfennig more unprepossessing even than mine, and of
whose matchless strength the others told all sorts of wonderful
stories.

I came one morning upon this man, quarrelling again with Old Christian.
The subject of dispute was a load of corn which the old man wanted
thrown off, and which the other refused to touch. The scene was the
straw-littered space before the barn-door, and the spectators a
half-dozen fellows who openly sided with Long Jock, and applauded every
coarse jeer of his with whinnying laughter.

I had observed the whole affair from a distance, and my blood was
already boiling with indignation when I reached the spot. Thrusting a
couple of the laughers roughly aside, I confronted Long Jock and asked
him if he intended to obey Old Christian's order or not. Jock answered
me with an insolent laugh and a coarse word. In a moment we were both
rolling in the trampled straw, and in the next I was kneeling upon the
breast of my vanquished antagonist, and made the unpleasantness of his
position so apparent, that he first cried aloud for help, and then,
seeing that the rest stood scared and motionless, and that none could
deliver him out of my hand, begged for mercy like a craven.

I had just allowed him to rise, badly bruised and half strangled, when
Herr von Zehren, who from his chamber-window had been a witness of the
whole scene, came hurrying up. He told Long Jock that he had got no
more than he richly deserved, and that he would do well to take a
lesson from it for the future; reproved the others, but as I thought by
no means so severely as their conduct demanded, then took my arm and
led me a little aside, until we were out of hearing of the men, when he
said, "It is all very well, George, that these fellows should know how
strong you are; but I do not want to turn them against me by any
repetition of the proof."

I looked at him in surprise.

"Yes," he went on, "you would have to repeat the process on a thousand
other occasions, and not even your strength would suffice for such
Herculean labor."

"Let us try that," I said.

"No; let us by no means try that," he answered.

"But the whole estate is going to ruin in this way," I cried, still
under excitement. Herr von Zehren shrugged his shoulders, and said,
"Well, it has not very far to go--two or three steps at the farthest.
And now you understand, George, the word is, Things as they are! As for
the men, they are no bees in point of industry, but they have this much
of bees about them, that when they are meddled with they are very apt
to sting. So be a little more cautious in future."

He said it with a smile, but I perceived very clearly that he was
thoroughly in earnest, and that the paradise I had been planning must
be renounced. A paradise in which these brigand-looking malingerers
slouched about at their pleasure, presented too glaring a contradiction
to escape even my inexperienced eyes.

I cannot say that it cost me much to give up my plans of radical
reformation. I had chiefly thrown myself into them because I hoped thus
to free myself of my load of obligation to my host. If he did not
choose to be paid in this way, it was clearly no fault of mine; and
when he reiterated to me every day that he wanted nothing of me but
myself, that my company was inexpressibly delightful to him, and, so to
speak, a godsend, whose value he could not sufficiently prize--how
could I help believing assurances that were so flattering to me, and
how could I withstand the allurements of a life that so exactly
corresponded with my inclinations?

Fishing and bird-catching--there is associated with these words an
ominous warning, whose justice I was destined to have a long time and a
desperately serious occasion to verify; but even now I cannot condemn
the fascination that clings to those occupations at which the proverb
is aimed. Fish cannot be caught without gazing at the water, nor birds
without gazing into the sky; and then the gliding waves and the flying
clouds get a mysterious hold of us--or at all events did of me, from my
very earliest youth. How often as a boy, coming home from school, did I
go out of my way to sit for half an hour on the outermost end of the
pier, and yield to the lulling influence of the light lapping of the
waves at my feet. How often at my garret-window have I stood gazing
over my wearisome books at the blue sky, where our neighbor's white
pigeons were wheeling in ethereal circles. And I had always longed just
for once to be able to listen to my fill to the plashing waves, and
gaze my fill at the drifting clouds. Then as I grew older, and could
extend the range of my excursions, I enjoyed many a happy hour,
many a boating-trip, many a ramble into the forest, many an expedition
after water-fowl on the beach with one of Smith Pinnow's rusty
fowling-pieces; but these at best were only for a few hours at a time,
which were far from sufficient for the exuberant energies of youth, and
were bought at the price of too much incarceration at home and at
school, too much care, trouble, vexation, and anger.

Now for the first time in my life I enjoyed in full measure all that I
had longed for all my life: forest and field and sea-shore, unlimited
space, and freedom to wander through all these at my pleasure from the
earliest dawn until far in the night, and a companion besides than whom
no fitter could be desired by a youth whose ambition it was to excel in
these profitless, ruinous arts. The "Wild Zehren's" eye was perhaps not
so keen nor his hand so steady as they had been ten or twenty years
before, but he was still an excellent shot, and a master in everything
belonging to field-sports. No one knew better than he where to find the
game; no one had such well-trained dogs, or could handle them so well
as he; no one could so skilfully take advantage of all the chances of
the chase; and above all, no one was so delightful a companion. If his
ardor during the sport carried all away with him, no one could so
happily choose the resting-place in the cool edge of the forest or
under the thin shade of a little copse by the side of a brook, or so
charmingly entertain the tired party with mirth and jest and the most
capitally-told stories. But he always seemed most charming to me when
we two together were on a long tramp. If in a large company of
sportsmen he could not conceal a certain imperious manner, and the
better success of another filled him with envy which found vent in
acrid sarcasms, there was no trace of all this when he was with me. He
taught me all the arts, adroit expedients, and minor dexterities of
woodcraft, in which he was so well skilled, and was delighted to find
me so apt a scholar; indeed he often laughed heartily when I brought
down a bird which he had marked for his own gun.

And then his talk, to which I always listened with new delight! It was
the strangest mingling of excellently-told sporting stories and
anecdotes, acute observations of nature, and biting satire upon
mankind, especially the fairer half of it. In the life of the Wild
Zehren, women had played an important and disastrous part. Like so many
men of ardent passions and fierce desires, he had probably never sought
for true love, and now he charged it as a crime upon the sex, that he
had never found it; not even with that unhappy lady whom he had carried
off from her home under such terrible circumstances, and who brought
him nothing but her parents' curse, beauty which faded but too soon,
and a narrow, bigoted spirit, uncultured and perhaps incapable of
culture, which already bore in itself the germs of madness.

That he, at that time in his fortieth year, who had seen so much of the
world, and had such wide experience, should perceive and acknowledge
that the whole was his own fault, that he had to attribute to himself
all the misery and misfortune ensuing upon so wicked and insensate a
union--all this never occurred to him for a moment. He was the man more
sinned against than sinning; he was the victim of his generosity; he
had been cheated out of his life's happiness. How could a man have
domestic habits who never had any enjoyment in his home? How could he
learn the charm of a calm and peaceful life at the side of a woman
restlessly tormented night and day by madness and superstition?

"Yes, yes, my dear George, I once had fine plans of my own: I meant to
restore the old castle, laid waste in the time of the French invasion,
to its ancient splendor; I thought to regain all the possessions that
once belonged to the Zehrens; but it was not to be. It could not be, in
the years when I was still young and full of hope; and do you think now
to make a careful, economical proprietor of me, now that I am grown old
and half savage? You buoyant, hopeful young---- See! there he goes!
That comes of talking. No; don't shoot now, he is too far. To heel,
Diana, old girl! So frivolous in your old days? Be ashamed of yourself!
Yes; what I was going to say to you, George, was--beware of the women.
They are the cause of every man's misfortunes, just as they have been
of mine. Take my brothers, for instance. There is the steuerrath, whom
you know: the man was predestined to a fine career, for he is as fond
of the shining things of this world as any thievish magpie, cunning as
a fox, smooth as an eel, and being a man without passions of any sort,
unpretentious, and so could easily hold his own. If he absolutely must
marry, then, at a time when he made no pretensions, it should have been
some plain sensible girl, who would have helped him make his way.
Instead of this, when he was a mere penniless barrister, he lets
himself be caught by a Baroness Kippenreiter, the oldest of two
surviving daughters of an army-contractor, made a baron, I believe, by
the King of Sweden, who wasted in speculation the fortune that had
ennobled him, to the last farthing, and finally blew out his brains.
And now the steuerrath must take the consequences. A Baroness
Kippenreiter will not seal her letters with a coat-of-arms twenty years
old, and have the richest man in the province for a brother-in-law, for
nothing. If such a thorough plebeian could rise to such distinction and
to the dignity of commerzienrath, her husband, sprung from the oldest
family in the province, must die prime minister at the very least. The
lithe fox with no pretensions would have found his way into the
poultry-house; but when with hunger and debt he is changed into a
howling and ravenous wolf, he is hunted off with kicks, clubs, and
stones. One of these days they will put him off with a pension, to be
rid of him once for all.

"Then there is my younger brother Ernest. He is a genius; and like all
geniuses, modest, magnanimous as Don Quixote, full of philanthropic
crotchets, unpractical to the last degree, and helpless as a child. He
should have taken a wife of strong mind, who would have brought order
into his genial confusion, and had the ambition to make something out
of him. He had the stuff in him, no doubt; it only wanted fashioning.
And what does he do? When a first lieutenant, twenty years old--for
already, when he was little more than a boy, he had distinguished
himself in the war for freedom, and came back covered with orders, so
that attention was drawn to him, and he had a fine career before
him--what does he do? He falls in love with an orphan, the daughter of
a painter, I believe, or something of that sort, who had served as a
volunteer in his battalion, and on his death-bed left her in his
charge--the generous soul! He marries her; farewell promotion! They
give our lieutenant, who is bent on a _mésalliance_, an honorable
discharge, with the rank of captain; make him superintendent of the
prison; and there he sits now, for these twenty-five years, in Z., with
a half-blind wife and a swarm of children, old and gray before his
time, a wretched invalid--and all this for the sake of a stupid young
goose, whom the first tailor or cobbler would have suited just as well.
Women! women! Dear George, beware of women!"

Had Herr von Zehren, when he talked to me in this way, any special
object in view? I do not think he had. I was now so much with him, we
often set out so early, so seldom returned at noon, and usually came
home so late at night--as a consequence I saw so little of Constance,
and that almost invariably in his presence, when I felt so embarrassed
and ill at ease on account of the constant hostilities between father
and daughter, that I scarcely ventured to raise my eyes to her face--it
was not possible that he could know how I admired the beautiful maiden,
how I found her more lovely every time I saw her, and how my heart beat
when I merely heard the rustle of her dress.

Then there was another reason which contributed to his unsuspiciousness
on this point. Fond as he was of having me with him, and sincerely as
he admired my aptness for everything connected with sport, and my
remarkable bodily strength, which I liked to display before him, still
he scarcely looked upon me as a creature of his own kind. Poor as he
was, leading a problematical existence as he had done for many years,
he could never forget that he sprang from a most ancient race of
nobles, who had once held sway over the island before the princes of
Prora-Wiek had been heard of, and when Uselin, my native place,
afterwards an important Hanseatic town, was a mere collection of
fishers' huts. I am convinced that he, like a dethroned king, had in
his heart never renounced his pretensions to the power and wealth which
had once been his ancestors'; that he considered that Trantow, Granow,
and a score of other titled or untitled gentlemen who held estates in
the neighborhood that had once belonged to the Zehrens, had come to
their so-called possession of these estates by some absurd whimsy of
fortune, but had no genuine title which he recognized, and that
wherever he hunted, it was still upon his own ground. This mystical
_cultus_ of a long-vanished splendor, of which he still fancied himself
the upholder, gave his eye the haughty look, his bearing the dignity,
his speech the graciousness, which belong to sovereign princes whose
political impotence is so absolute, and whose legitimacy is so
unassailable, that they can allow themselves to be perfectly amiable.

Herr von Zehren was an enthusiastic defender of the right of
primogeniture, and found it highly unreasonable that younger brothers
should bear and transmit the nobility that they were not permitted to
represent. "I have nothing to say against a councillor of excise,
nothing against a prison superintendent," he said, "only they ought to
be called Müller or Schultze, and not Zehren." For the nobility of the
court, the public offices, or the army, he cherished the profoundest
contempt. They were only servants, in or out of livery, he maintained;
and he drew a sharp distinction between the genuine old and the
"new-baked" nobility, to the former class of which, for example, the
Trantows belonged, who could trace back an unbroken pedigree to the
middle of the fourteenth century; while Herr von Granow had had a
shepherd for great-grandfather, small tenant-farmer for grandfather,
and a land-owner, who had purchased a patent of nobility, for his
father. "And the man often behaves as if he was of the same caste with
myself! The honor of being permitted to lose his contemptible money to
me, seems to have mounted into his foolish brain. I think before long
he will ask me if I am not willing to be the father-in-law of a
shepherd-boy. Thank heaven, in that point at least I can rely upon
Constance; she had rather fling herself into the sea than marry the
little puffed-up oaf. But it is foolish in her to treat poor Hans so
cavalierly. Trantow is a fellow that can show himself anywhere. He
might be put under a glass-case for exhibition, and nobody could find a
fault in him. You laugh, you young popinjay! You mean that he was not
the man that invented gunpowder, and that if he keeps on as he is
going, he will soon have drunk away what little brains he has. Bah! The
first fact qualifies him for a good husband; and as for the second, I
know of a certainty that it is pure desperation that makes him look
into the glass so much with those staring eyes of his. Poor devil: it
makes one right heartily sorry for him; but that, you see, is the way
with every man that has anything to do with women. Beware of the women,
George; beware of the women!"

Was it possible that the man who held these views and talked with me in
this way, could have the least suspicion of my feelings? It could not
be. I was in his eyes a young fellow who had fallen in his way, and
whom he had picked up as a resource against ennui, whom he kept with
him and talked to, because he did not like to be alone and liked to
talk. Could I complain of this? Could I make any higher pretensions?
Was I, or did I desire to be, anything else than one of my knight's
retinue, even if for the time I happened to be the only one? Could I
have any other concern than for the fact that I could not at the same
time devote the same reverential service to my knight's lovely
daughter?



                               CHAPTER X.


Since that memorable walk with her through the wood to the ruins on the
promontory, I had not again been alone with Constance for a long time.
During the three rainy days I saw her at the dinner table, and perhaps
about as often at supper when we returned from shooting; but always in
the presence of her father, and usually of Herren von Trantow and
Granow, our companions of the field and the card-table. On these
occasions she scarcely lifted her lovely eyes from her untouched plate,
while the tall Hans stared at her after his fashion, the short Granow
chattered away as usual, undisturbed by her chilling silence, and Herr
von Zehren, who in his daughter's presence always seemed in a
singularly irritated mood, loosed at her more than one of his keen
sarcastic shafts. These were for me sad and bitter hours, and all the
bitterer as I, with all my desire to be of service, felt myself so
utterly helpless, and what was worst of all, thought I observed that
she no longer excepted me from the aversion which she openly manifested
towards her father's friends. In the first days of my stay at the
castle it was entirely different. In those days she had always for me a
ready friendly glance, a kind word occasionally whispered, a cordial if
hasty pressure of the hand. This was all now at an end. She spoke to me
no more, she looked at me no more, except at times with a look in which
indignation seemed mingled with contempt, and which cut me to the
heart.

And had I been short-sighted enough to mistake the meaning of these
looks, a word dropped by old Pahlen would have opened my eyes.

I hit upon the idea of asking permission to occupy, instead of my
present room in the front of the house, one of the empty apartments
looking on the park. Into this I carried from time to time various
articles of furniture, most of them still valuable, which were lying
about in the dilapidated regions of the upper story, until I had
brought together an accumulation which presented a very singular
appearance. Herr von Zehren laughed heartily when one day coming to
call me to dinner, as I in my new occupation had forgotten the hour, he
caught me hard at work arranging my worm-eaten and tarnished treasures.

"Your furniture does not lack variety, at all events," he said; "for an
antiquary the rubbish would not be without interest. Really, it is like
a chapter out of one of Scott's novels. There, in that high-backed
chair, Dr. Dryasdust might have sat; you must set that here, if the old
fellow does not tumble over as soon as you take him from the wall. So!
a little nearer to the window. Isn't that a splendid piece! It comes
down from my great-grandfather's time. He was ambassador at the court
of Augustus the Strong, and the only one of our family, so far as I
know, who as head of the house ever entered public service. He brought
from Dresden the handsome vases of which you see a potsherd there, and
a decided taste for Moorish servants, parrots, and ladies. But _de
mortuis_--Really the old chair is still right comfortable. And what a
magnificent view of the park, just from this place! I shall often come
to see you, for it is really charming."

In fact he did come once or twice in the next few days, while a heavy
rain kept us all in the house, to smoke his cigar and have a chat; but
when the weather cleared up, he thought no more about it, and I was
careful enough, on my part, not to recall my museum to his
recollection. For I had only arranged it in order to be nearer to
Constance, and to have a view of the park, about whose neglected walks
she loved to wander. I could also see a strip of the terrace that lay
under her windows, but unfortunately only the outer margin, as the part
of the castle in which she lived fell back from the main-building about
the breadth of the terrace. But still it was something: the faint light
which in the evening fell upon the balustrade came from her room, and
once or twice I caught an indistinct glimpse of her form, as she paced
up and down the terrace, or leaning upon the balustrade gazed into the
park, over which night had already spread her dusky veil. And when I
did not see her, I heard her music and her songs, among which there was
none I loved better than that which I had heard the first evening, and
now knew by heart:


           "All day long the bright sun loves me,
              Woos me with his glowing light;
            But I better love the gentle
              Stars of night."


In truth I also loved them well, the stars of night, for often and
often when the pale light had vanished from the balustrade, and the
song I so loved had long ceased, I still sat at my open window gazing
at the stars, which shone in all the splendor of a September night, and
listening to the solemn music of the wind in the ancient trees of the
park.

In the meantime the happiness which only young hearts, or such as have
long retained their youth, can appreciate, was, as I have said, but of
brief duration. The singular change in Constance's manner towards me,
plucked me from my heaven; and I tortured my brain in the effort to
discover what cause had brought me into her disfavor. But think
as I might, I could find no key to the mystery; and at last I
resolved--though a foreboding of evil warned me against it--to have
recourse to Pahlen, who, if any one, could solve me the enigma that
weighed so heavily upon my foolish head.

This ugly old woman had lately been rather more obliging. I had
soon discovered that she was extremely fond of money, and I did not
hesitate now and then, under one pretence or another, to slip into her
wrinkled brown hands two or three of the _thalers_ that I won at the
card-table--for naturally enough I had abandoned my resolution to play
no more. The glitter of the silver softened her stony old heart; she no
longer growled and grumbled when I ventured to speak to her, and once
or twice actually brought coffee to my room with her own hands. When I
thought that the taming process was sufficiently advanced, I ventured
to ask her about the subject nearest my heart--her young mistress. She
threw me one of her suspicious looks, and finally, as I repeated my
question, puckered her ugly old face into a repulsive grin, and said:

"Yes; catch mice with cheese; but you need not try that game; old
Pahlen is too sharp for you."

What was the game that I need not try?

As I could not find a satisfactory answer to this question, I asked the
old woman on the following day.

"You need not make as if you did not know," she said, with a kind of
respect, inspired probably by my innocent manner, which she naturally
took for a masterpiece of deception; "I am not going to betray my young
lady for a couple of _thalers_. I have been sorry enough, I can tell
you, that I helped to clear up this room for you, and she has
complained bitterly enough about it."

"But, good heaven," I said, "I will cheerfully go back to my old room
if the young lady wishes it. I never thought it would be so extremely
disagreeable to her if I caught a sight of her now and then. I could
not have supposed it."

"And that was all you wanted?" asked the old woman.

I did not answer. I was half desperate to think that--heaven knows how
involuntarily--I had offended her whom I so deeply loved; and yet I was
glad to learn at last what my offence was. Like the young fool I was, I
strode up and down the great room, and cried:

"I will quit this room this very day; I will not sleep another night in
it; tell your young lady that; and tell her that I would leave the
castle this very hour, only that I do not know what to say to Herr von
Zehren."

And I threw myself into the old worm-eaten, high-backed chair, at
imminent risk of its destruction, with the deepest distress evident in
my features.

The tone of my voice, the expression of my countenance, probably joined
with my words to convince the old woman of my sincerity.

"Yes, yes," she said, "what could you say to him? He certainly would
not let you go, although for my part I do not know what he really wants
with you. Do you stay here, and I will speak with my young lady."

"Do, dear, good Mrs. Pahlen!" I cried, springing up and seizing one of
the old woman's bony hands. "Speak with her, tell her--" I turned
suddenly red, stammered out some awkward phrase or other, and once more
adjured her to speak with her young lady.

The old woman, who had been watching me all the while with a curious,
piercing look, remained thoughtful for a few moments, then said curtly
she would see what could be done, and left me.

I remained, much disturbed. The consciousness that the old woman had
penetrated my secret, was very painful to me; but I consoled myself
with the reflection that if she was really, as she seemed to be,
Constance's confidante, I certainly need feel no shame to take her into
my confidence also; and finally, what was done was done, and if
Constance now learned for the first time that I loved her, that I was
ready to do or to suffer anything for her sake, she would certainly
forgive me what I had done. What had I done, then? How could she, who
at first received me so kindly, who in jest which seemed earnest chose
me for her service, who on that evening exacted of me the promise not
to go until she gave me permission--how could she feel offence at what
at the very worst she could but regard as a token of my love and
admiration?

Thus, under my inexperienced hands, the threads of my destiny were
wound into an evermore inextricable clue; and with violent beatings of
the heart I entered an hour later the dining-room, where to-day,
besides our usual guests, three or four others were assembled. They
were waiting for the young lady's appearance to take their places at
the table. After dinner they were to go out for a little shooting.

As was usual with her, Constance subjected her father's impatience to a
severe trial; but at last she appeared.

I do not know how it happened that this time I, who always, when guests
were present, took my seat at the foot of the table, happened to be
placed next to her. It was certainly not intentional on my part, for in
the frame of mind in which I was, I would have done anything rather
than obtrude my presence upon my fair enemy. So I scarcely dared to
raise my eyes, and in my excessive confusion loaded my plate with
viands of which every morsel seemed about to choke me. How joyfully
then was I surprised, when Constance, after sitting for a few minutes
in her accustomed silence, suddenly asked me, in a low friendly tone,
if I had not time to fill her a glass of wine.

"Why did you not ask me, _meine Gnädigste_?"[3] cried Herr von Granow,
who sat on the other side of her.

"I prefer to be served in my own way," answered Constance, almost
turning her back upon the little man, and continuing to speak with me.
I answered as well as I could, and as she continued speaking in a low
tone, I imitated her example, and leaned towards her in order better to
catch her words; and thus, as I looked into her dark eyes, I forgot
what she had asked me, or answered at a venture, at which she laughed;
and because she laughed I laughed also, and all this together made up
the most charming little confidential _tête-à-tête_, although we were
speaking of the most indifferent things in the world. I took no notice
of anything else that was passing; only once I observed that Hans von
Trantow, who sat opposite us, was staring at us with wide-open eyes;
but I thought nothing of it, for the good fellow's eyes usually wore
that expression.

Much sooner than I could have wished, Herr von Zehren rose from the
table. Before the house were waiting a lot of barefooted, bareheaded
boys, with creels on their backs; the dogs were barking and leaping
about the men, who were arranging their accoutrements and loading their
guns. Constance came out with us, which she had never before done, and
called to me as we were about starting, "I cannot wish _them_ good
luck, and would not wish _you_ bad." Then, after including the rest in
a general salutation, she gave me a friendly wave of the hand and
re-entered the house.

"Which way are we going to-day?" I asked Herr von Zehren, as I came to
his side.

"It was long enough discussed at dinner. Your attention seems to have
been wandering."

It was the first time that he had ever spoken to me in an unfriendly
tone, and my countenance probably expressed the surprise that I felt,
for he quickly added:

"I did not mean to wound you; and besides it was no fault of yours."

We had reached a stubble-field, and the shooting began. Herr von Zehren
posted me on the left wing, while he kept upon the right; thus I was
separated from him and did not once come near him during the rest of
the day. This also had never before occurred. He had hitherto always
kept me by him, and was delighted when, as often happened, more game
fell to our two guns than to those of all the rest. My shooting was
this day poor enough. The happiness which Constance's unexpected
friendliness had given me, was embittered by her father's unexpected
unkindness. The birds which my dog Caro put up--Herr von Zehren had
given me one of his best dogs--flew off untouched while I was pondering
over the unhappy relations between father and daughter, and how I could
not show my affection for the one without offending the other, and what
was to become of my favorite scheme of reconciling the two.

I was quite lost in these melancholy reflections when Herr von Granow
joined me. It was already growing dusk, and the day's sport was
virtually over, only now and then we heard a distant shot among the
bushes of the heath. No order was now kept, and I soon found myself
alone with the little man as we ascended a slight hill.

"What has happened between you and the old man?" he asked, hanging his
gun across his shoulders and coming to my side.

"What do you mean?" I inquired.

"Well, it struck me in that light, and not me only; the others noticed
it too. I can assure you that he looked once or twice across the table
at you as if he would eat you."

"I have done nothing to offend him," I said.

"That I can well believe," continued the little man. "And this
afternoon he scarcely spoke a word with you."

I was silent, for I did not know what to say.

"Yes, yes," pursued my companion; "but do not hurry so, nobody can keep
up with you. You are in an ugly position."

"How so?" I asked.

"Don't you really know?"

"No."

Herr von Granow was so convinced of his superior acuteness, that it
never occurred to him that my ignorance might be feigned in order to
draw him out.

"Yes, yes," he said. "You are still young, and at your years one is
often deaf and blind to things which we who know the world seize at the
first glance. The old man and the young lady live together like cat and
dog; but really, when one thinks of it, neither has such great cause to
love the other. She leads a wretched life through his fault. He would
gladly be rid of her, but who is going to take her off his hands? I
have considered the matter from all sides; but it can't be managed--it
really can't."

I was in doubt, when my companion began to talk in this way, whether I
should strike him to the earth for his impudence, or burst into loud
laughter. I took a side-look at him; the little man with his short
trotting legs, his foolish face scarlet from his exertions, and his
half-open mouth--I could not resist, but fairly shook with laughter.

"I do not see what you are laughing about," he said, rather surprised
than offended. "The little comedy which she played for you and the rest
of us this afternoon, can hardly have turned your brain, if I may so
express myself. And it is just upon that subject that I would like to
give you some information.

"What can you mean?" I asked.

My merriment was at an end, and I was serious enough now. A comedy
which she had played for me? "What can you mean?" I asked again more
urgently than before.

Herr von Granow, who had been walking at a little distance from me,
trotted up close to my side, and said in a confidential tone:

"After all, I cannot think hard of you about it. You are still so
young; and I often do not know myself on what footing I am standing
with the girl. But this much is clear: out of pure obstinacy against
her father, and perhaps a little calculation to raise her own value,
and perhaps, too, because she thinks it will make no difference anyhow,
but mainly out of mere stubbornness and self-will, has she put on these
airs of a princess, and behaves as if for her I and the rest had no
existence. If she suddenly began to coquet with you in my--I should say
in our presence, that really signifies nothing; it is but a little
pleasantry that she allows herself with you, and which has no further
consequences; but it must provoke the old man, and it did provoke him.
You did not observe it, you say, but I can assure you he bit his lip
and stroked his beard as he always does when anything vexes him."

The little man had no notion what a tumult he was stirring up in my
breast; he took my silence for acquiescence and for acknowledgement of
his superior wisdom, and so proceeded, in delight at being able to
speak of such interesting topics and to have secured such an attentive
listener.

"I fancy that the whole conduct of the young lady puts a spoke in his
wheel. Do you know how much I have lost to him during the six months
that I have been here? Over eight hundred _thalers_. And Trantow nearly
twice as much; and all the rest are cursing their ill-fortune. He has
had a wonderful run of luck, it is true; it is not always so; but then
when he loses one must take it out in his wine and his cognac, and you
can imagine the prices he rates them at. Well, one wants something at
least for one's money; for the sake of such a pretty girl one lets a
couple of hundreds go, and does not watch the old man's hands too
closely. But it used to be all quite different; she used to join in the
play, and smoke cigars with the gentlemen, and go out shooting and
riding--the wilder the horses the better she liked it. It used to be a
heathenish life, Sylow says, and he ought to know. But since last
summer, and that affair with the prince----"

"What affair was that?" I asked. I was consumed with the desire to hear
everything that Herr von Granow had to tell. I no longer felt the
contumely which this man was heaping upon my kind host and upon the
maiden I adored; or if I did, I thought that the reckoning should come
afterwards, but first I must hear all.

"You don't know that?" he inquired, eagerly. "But, to be sure, who
could have told you? Trantow is mute as a fish, and the others don't
know what to think of you. I hold you for an honest fellow, and do not
believe that you are a spy, or leagued with the old man; his looks at
dinner were too queer for that. You won't tell him what I have been
saying to you, will you?"

"Not a word," I said.

"Well then, this is the story. Last summer the old man was at D----,
and she was with him. At a watering-place people are not so particular;
any one who chose might go about with him. The young Prince Prora was
there too; he had persuaded his physicians that he was unwell and
needed sea-bathing, so he was sent there with his tutor. The old prince
was at the Residence, just as he is now, and the young one made good
use of his liberty. I had just bought my place here, was no sooner on
it than I caught a devilish rheumatism on these infernal moors; and so
I went there for a week or so and saw something of it, but the most was
told me by others. Naturally enough there was high play; but the
highest was in private circles, for at the _Spielsaal_ they only allow
moderate stakes. The prince kept constantly in the old man's company,
some said for the sake of the play, others, to pay his court to the
young lady; and probably both were right. I have often enough seen them
sitting and walking together in the park of an evening; and they were
gay enough, I can testify. Now they say that the old man had bad luck,
and lost twenty thousand _thalers_ to the prince, which he had to pay
in two days. Where was he to get the money? So, as they say, he offered
the prince his daughter instead. Others say he asked fifty thousand,
and others again a hundred thousand for the bargain. Well, for any one
who had the money, it may be that was not too much; but unluckily the
young prince did not have the money. It will be two years before he is
of age, and then, if the old prince is still alive, he will only get
the property of his deceased mother, of which not much is ready cash, I
take it. In a word, the affair hung fire; and one fine day here comes
the old prince, who had got some wind of the matter, tearing over from
the Residence, read the youngster a terrible lecture, and offered
Zehren a handsome sum to go out of the country with Constance until the
young prince was married. Now the thing might have been all arranged,
for all that Zehren wanted was to make a good hit of it, if he and the
prince could have kept from personally appearing in the business. But
Zehren, who, when he takes the notion, can be as proud as Lucifer,
insisted upon arranging the affair with the prince in person, and so
the scandal broke out. There was a terrible scene, they say, and the
prince was carried for dead to his hotel. What happened, nobody exactly
knows. But this much is certain: the late princess, who was born
Countess Sylow--I have the facts from young Sylow, who is related to
the count--fell in love with Zehren when he was a young man staying
with the prince at the Residence and attending the court balls, and
only married the prince because she was compelled to it. The prince
either knew it then, or found it out soon afterwards, and they led a
miserable life together. It is probable that Zehren and he, in their
dispute, raked up some of these old stories; one word led to another,
as always happens. Zehren is like a madman when he gets into a rage,
and the prince has none of the coolest of tempers--in a word, the thing
came to an explosion. Zehren left the place; and the prince a day or
two later, with a pair of blue marks on his throat left there by
Zehren's fingers, they said."

"And the young prince?"

"What did he care? All pretty girls are the same to him; he knows how
to enjoy life. I wonder if he holds fast this time. He has already been
over three weeks at Rossow. I should feel rather queer about staying in
this part of the country after what has happened. I would not for my
life meet Herr von Zehren if I knew that my father had given him deadly
offence."

"What does he look like?"

"Oh, he is a handsome young fellow; very slender, elegant, and amiable.
I fancy Fräulein von Zehren owes her father small thanks for having
broken off the affair, for I will say for her honor that she does not
know what the scheme really was. True, others say that she knew it very
well, and was perfectly satisfied with the arrangement."

I listened with intensest interest to this narrative of my companion's,
as if my life depended upon its result. This then was the mystery: it
was the young Prince of Prora who was the "chosen one" of her song. Now
I remembered how she blushed when Granow that evening alluded to the
prince, and at the same time I recalled the dark figure in the park.
Had I only got him in my hands!

I groaned aloud with grief and anger.

"You are tired," said the little man, "and besides I see we have
strayed considerably out of our way. We must keep to the right; but
there are two or three ugly places in the moor, and in the dusk I am
afraid we shall not be able to get through. Let us rather go round a
little. Heaven knows how little you big fellows can stand; there was a
Herr von Westen-Taschen in my regiment, a fellow, if anything, bigger
than you, only perhaps not quite so broad across the shoulders.
'Westen,' I said to him one day, 'I'll bet you that I can run'--but,
good heavens, what is that?"

It was a man who suddenly arose out of a little hollow, in which we had
not noticed him--probably could not have seen him in the dusk--about
twenty paces from us, and disappeared again instantly.

"Let us go nearer," I said.

"For heaven's sake no," whispered my companion, holding me fast by my
game-pouch.

"Perhaps the man has met with an accident," I said.

"God forbid," said the little man. "But we might, if we did not keep
out of his way. I beg you come along."

Herr von Granow was so urgent, and evinced so much anxiety, that I did
as he entreated me; but after we had gone a short distance I could not
refrain from stopping and looking round as I heard a low whistle behind
me. The man was going across the heath with long strides, another rose
from the same spot and followed him, then another and another, until I
had counted eight. They had all great packs upon their backs, but went,
notwithstanding, at a rapid pace, keeping accurate distance. In a few
minutes their dark figures had vanished, as if the black moor over
which they were striding had swallowed them up.

Herr von Granow drew a deep breath. "Do you see?" said he, "I was
right. Infernal rascals that run like rats over places where any honest
Christian would sink. I'll wager they were some of Zehren's men."

"How do you mean?" I asked.

"Oh, well," he went on, "we all dabble in it a little about here, or at
least make our profit of it. In the short time that I have been here, I
have found out that there is no help for it, and that the rascals would
burn the house over your head if you did not look through your fingers
and stand by them in every way. Only the day before yesterday, as I was
standing by my garden-wall, a fellow comes running across the lawn and
says that I must hide him, the patrol is after him. I give you my word
I made him creep into the oven, as there was no other hiding-place
handy, and with my own hands heaped a pile of straw before the door;
and when the patrol came up, five minutes later, said I had seen the
fellow making for the wood. Upon my honor I was ashamed of myself; but
what is one to do? And so I would not say anything against the old man,
if he only would not carry things to such extremes. But he drives it
too far, I tell you, he drives it too far; it must take a bad turn;
there is but one opinion about that."

"But," said I, taking the greatest pains to speak as calmly as
possible, "I have been already about three weeks here, and I give you
my honor" (this phrase I had lately caught) "that as yet I have not
seen the slightest thing to confirm the evil repute in which, as I hear
to my great uneasiness, Herr von Zehren stands, even with his friends.
Yes, I will admit that when I first came here, some such fancies came
into my head, I cannot tell how, but I have long driven so disgraceful
a suspicion from my mind."

"Suspicion!" said the old man, speaking with even greater vivacity, and
taking shorter and quicker steps; "who talks of suspicion? The thing is
as clear as amen in the church. If you have observed nothing--which
really surprises me, but your word of course is sufficient--the reason
is because the weather has been so bad. Still, the business is not
altogether at a stand-still, as you have yourself just now seen. I
declare, one feels very queer to think one is sitting in the very
middle of it all. And last Thursday I had to take a lot of wine and
cognac from him, and Trantow as much more a couple of days before, and
Sylow still more, but he, I believe, divides with somebody else."

"And why should not Herr von Zehren dispose of his surplus stock to his
friends?" I asked, incredulously.

"His surplus stock?" cried Herr von Granow. "Yes, to be sure there was
a great deal left over from the last vintage; he has enough in his
cellars, they say, to supply half the island. And that is a heavy load
for him to carry; for he has to pay the smuggler captains in cash, and
the market at Uselin has grown very poor, as I hear. Lately they have
got very shy there. Since so many have taken to dabbling in the
business, no one thoroughly trusts another. Formerly, I am told, the
whole trade was in the hands of a pair of respectable firms. But all
that you must know much better than I; your father is an officer of the
customs."

"True," I answered, "and I am so much the more surprised that, among so
many, I have never heard Herr von Zehren's name mentioned--supposing
your suspicion to be founded on fact."

"But don't keep always talking about 'suspicion,'" cried the little
man, peevishly. "It is there just as it is everywhere else, they hang
the little thieves and let the big ones go. The gentlemen of the
custom-house know what they are about. A couple of _thalers_ or
_louis-d'ors_ at the right time will make many things smooth; and when
one has, like the old man, a brother councillor of excise, Mr.
Inspector will probably not be so impolite as to interfere with the
councillor's brother."

"That is an insult, Herr von Granow," I cried in a fury; "I have
already told you that my own father is an officer in the customs."

"Well, but then I thought that you and your father were not on the best
terms," said Herr von Granow. "And if your father has driven you off,
why----"

"That concerns nobody!" I exclaimed, "unless it be Herr von Zehren, who
has received me into his house, and been kind and friendly to me
always. If my father has sent me away, or driven me off, as you call
it, I gave him cause enough; but that has nothing to do with his
integrity, and I will strike any man dead, like a dog, who asperses my
father's honor."

As Herr von Granow did not and could not know in how many ways all that
he had said had lacerated my tenderest feelings, my sudden wrath, which
had been only waiting an opportunity to burst forth, must have appeared
to him terrible and incomprehensible. A young man, who had probably
always appeared to him suspicious, and now doubly so, of whose bodily
strength he had seen more than one surprising proof, speaking in such a
voice of striking dead--and then the desolate heath, the growing
darkness--the little man muttered some unintelligible words, while he
cautiously widened the distance between us, and then, probably in fear
of my loaded gun, came up again and very meekly declared that he had
not the slightest intention to offend me; that it was not to be
supposed that a respectable officer like my father had knowingly placed
his son with a notorious smuggler. And that, on the other side, the
suspicion that I was a spy in the pay of the authorities, could not
possibly be reconciled with my honest face and my straightforward
conduct, and was indeed perfectly ridiculous; that he would with all
his heart admit that everything that was said about Herr von Zehren was
pure fabrication--people talked so much just for the sake of talking.
Besides, he, who had only recently come into the neighborhood, could
least of all judge what there might be in it; and he would be extremely
delighted, and account it an especial honor, to receive me as a guest
at his house, there where we could now see the lights shining, and
where the others must have arrived long ago, and to drown all
unpleasantness in a bottle of wine.

I scarcely comprehended what he said, my agitation was so extreme. I
replied curtly that it was all right, that I did not believe he
intended to offend me. Then asking him to excuse me to Herr von Zehren,
I strode across the heath towards the road which I knew so well, which
led from Melchow, Granow's estate, to Zehrendorf.



                              CHAPTER XI.


The following morning was so fine that it might well have cheered even
a gloomier spirit than mine. And in my fatigue I had fallen so promptly
asleep when I laid my tired head upon the pillow, and had slept so
soundly, that it required some consideration upon awaking to recall the
circumstances that had caused me so much agitation the previous
evening. Gradually they recurred to my memory, and once more my cheeks
burned, and I felt, as I always did when under excitement, that I must
rush out into the free air and under the blue sky; so I hurried down
the steep back-stair into the park.

Here I wandered about under the tall trees, which waved their light
sprays in the morning breeze, along the wild paths, and among the
bushes brightened with the sunlight, at intervals listening to some
bird piping incessantly his monotonous autumn song, or marking some
caterpillar swinging by a fathom-long filament from a twig overhead,
while I bent my thoughts to the task, so difficult for a young man, of
obtaining a clear view of my situation.

I had told Granow the evening before but the simple truth: so long as I
had been upon the estate nothing had occurred to confirm his suspicion.
During the whole of this time I had scarcely left the side of Herr von
Zehren. No strangers had come about the place; there had been no
suspicious meetings; no goods had been received, and none sent out,
except a barrel or two of wine to the neighbors. To be sure, the people
on the estate looked as if they were accustomed to anything rather than
honest industry, and especially my tall friend Jock could not possibly
have a clear conscience; but the cotters on the various estates around
were all a rough, uncouth, piratical-looking crew, as indeed many of
them had been fishermen and sailors, and were so still when occasion
offered. That the gang which we had seen crossing the heath did not
belong to our people, I was convinced when I passed the laborer's
cottages, and saw Jock with two or three others lounging about the
doors as usual.

And then, granting that Herr von Zehren was really all that evil
tongues called him, still he did nothing more or worse than his
neighbors. They all dabbled a little in it, Granow had said; and if all
these aristocratic gentlemen made no scruple of filling their cellars
with wine that they knew to be smuggled, the receiver was as bad as the
thief, and Herr von Zehren was here, as always and everywhere, only the
bolder man who had the courage to do what the others would willingly
have done if they dared.

And, after all, I was bound to him by the firmest ties of gratitude.
Should I go away for a mere suspicion, the silly gossip of a prating
tongue, and abandon him who had always been so kind, so friendly to
me?--who had given me his best--no, his second-best gun and dog; whose
purse and cigar-case--and ah, what exquisite cigars he had!--were at
all times at my service? Never! And even if he really were a smuggler,
a professional smuggler--but how could I find out once for all whether
he was or not?

Most simply, by going directly to himself. I had justification for
doing so. My honesty was questioned by his friends; they did not know
what to think of me. I could not allow this to go on unnoticed. Herr
von Zehren could not expect that I should, on his account, incur the
dishonoring suspicion of being either a spy or an accomplice. But
suppose he were to say: "Very well; then go. I do not detain you."

I seated myself upon a stone-bench under a spreading maple at the edge
of the park, and resting my elbow upon the half-fallen table, and
leaning my head upon my hand, gazed at the castle which threw its
shadow far over the lawn, now golden in the morning sun.

Never had the ruinous old pile seemed so dear to me. How well I
knew each tall chimney, each tuft of grass growing upon the gray
moss-covered roof of tiles, the three balconies, two small ones to the
right and left, and in the middle the great one upon which the three
glass doors opened from the upper hall, resting upon its massive
pillars with the fantastic voluted capitals. How well I knew each
window, with the weather-beaten wooden shutters that were never closed,
and the most of which, indeed, were past closing. Some were hanging by
a single hinge, and one belonging to the third window to the right
always slammed at night when the wind was from the west. I had a dozen
times resolved to secure it, but always forgot it again. The two
windows at the corner to the left were those of my room, my poetic room
with the precious old furniture, which to my eye had such an imposing
effect that I felt like a young prince in the midst of all this
magnificence. What happy hours had I already passed in this room! Early
mornings, when, joyous in the anticipation of the day's sport, I sang
as I dressed myself and arranged my ammunition; late evenings when I
returned home with my friend, heated with wine and play and jovial
discourse, and sitting at the window, inhaled the fragrant aroma of my
cigar, or drank in large draughts the pure, cool night-air, while
thoughts crowded one another in my mind, foolish and sentimental
thoughts, all turning to the fair maiden who doubtless had been
slumbering for hours in her chamber by the terrace.

What was it that the shameless slanderer had said of her? I scarcely
dared to recall his words to my mind. I could not comprehend how I
could have borne to listen to them, or how it was that I let him escape
unchastized after so desecrating the object of my idolatry. The
miserable creature! The conceited, upstart, envious little oaf! Little
blame to her that she would have nothing to do with such a lover as he,
or the rest of her country squires. And for this they now breathed
their venomous slanders against her: said that she would have sold
herself--she, the lovely, the noble, the pure, for whom a king's
throne would have been too low! Was there any head more worthy of a
diadem--any form more fit to be folded in the mantle of purple? Oh, I
desired nothing for myself; it was enough for me if I might touch the
hem of her vesture. But the others should honor her as well as I. No
one, not if he were prince or king, should dare to approach her without
her permission. If she would only, as she had jestingly said that
night, let me keep watch at her threshold!

Thus humbly I thought of her in my full, young heart, that was breaking
with love and longing. And I did it in the most assured conviction, in
the firmest faith, of the nobility and purity of her I loved so dearly.
I can truly say there was no drop of blood in my veins that did not
belong to her. I would have given my life for her had she asked it of
me, had she taken me for the true heart that I was, had she dealt
honestly with me. Was it a presentiment of the brief space of time that
I was still to cherish the simple faith that there is a spark of virtue
in every human breast that nothing can entirely extinguish, that made
me now bow my head upon my hands and shed hot tears?

I suddenly lifted my head, for I fancied I heard a rustling close
behind me, and I was not mistaken. It was Constance, who came through
the bushes hedging the path to the beech-wood. I sprang suddenly in
confusion to my feet, and stood before her, ere I had time to wipe the
traces of my tears from my cheeks.

"My good George," she said, offering me her hand with a gentle smile,
"you are my true friend, are you not?"

I murmured some indistinct reply.

"Let me sit here by you a little while," she said; "I feel somewhat
tired; I have been up so long. Do you know where I have been? In the
forest by the tarn, and afterwards up at the ruin. Do you know that we
have never again gone there together? I was thinking of it this
morning, and was sorry; it is so beautiful up on the cliffs, and
walking with you is so pleasant. Why do you never come there to bring
me home? Don't you remember what you promised me: to be my faithful
George, and kill all the dragons in my path? How many have you killed?"

She glanced at me from under her long lashes with her unfathomable
brown eyes, and abashed I looked upon the ground. "Why do you not
answer?" she asked. "Has my father forbidden you?"

"No," I replied, "but I do not know whether you are not mocking me. You
have shown me lately so little kindness, that at last I have hardly
dared to speak to you or even to look at you."

"And you really do not know why I have lately been less friendly
towards you?"

"No," I answered, and added softly, "unless it be because I am so much
attached to your father; and how can I be otherwise?"

Her looks darkened, "And if that were the reason," she said, "could you
blame me? My father does not love me; he has given me too many proofs
of that. How can any one love me who is 'so much attached to my
father?'"--she spoke the last words with bitterness--"who perhaps
reports to him every word that I say, and to the watchers and
tale-bearers by whom I am surrounded adds another, so much the more
dangerous as I should have expected from him anything but treachery."

"Treachery--treachery from me?" I exclaimed with horror.

"Yes, treachery," she answered, speaking in a lower tone, but more
rapidly and passionately. "I know that Sophie, my maid, is bribed; I
know that old Christian, who skulks about, day and night, watches me
like a prisoner. I am not at all sure that old Pahlen, who shows some
devotion to me, would not sell me for a handful of _thalers_. Yes, I am
betrayed, betrayed on all sides. Whether by you--no; I will trust your
honest blue eyes, although I had really good reason for suspecting
you."

I was half distracted to hear Constance speaking thus; and I implored
her, I adjured her, to tell me what horrible delusion had deceived her,
for that it was a delusion I was ready to prove. She should, she must
tell me all.

"Well then," she said, "is it delusion or truth that on the very first
evening of your stay here, by order of my father, who brought you here
for that purpose, you kept watch under my window, when afterwards you
pretended to me that it was my music that had attracted you?"

I started at these last words, which were accompanied with a dark
suspicious look. That dark figure then had really been stealing to a
rendezvous; and he had been there since, else how could she know what
had happened?

"You need make no further confession," said Constance, bitterly. "You
have not yet sufficiently learned your lesson of dissimulation. And I,
good-natured fool, believed that you were my faithful George."

I was near weeping with grief and indignation.

"For heaven's sake," I cried, "do not condemn me without a hearing. I
went into the park without any special intention; without an idea that
I should meet him--any one. If I had known that the man whom I saw from
this point come out of the shrubbery yonder, came with your permission,
I should never have intercepted him, but would have let him go
unmolested where, as it seems, he was expected."

"Who says that he came by my permission, and that he was expected?" she
asked.

"Yourself," I promptly answered. "The fact that you are informed of
what none but he and I could know."

Constance glanced at me, and a smile passed across her features.
"Indeed!" she said, "how skilful we are at combinations! Who would have
believed it of us? But you are mistaken. I know of it from him, that is
true; but I did not expect him, nor had he my permission. More than
this: I solemnly assure you that I had no idea that he was so near.
'And now?' your look seems to inquire. Now he is as far as he ever was.
He wrote to me by a medium--no matter how--that he made an attempt to
see me on that evening, in order to communicate something which he did
not wish me to learn from another. I answered him by the same way that
I had already learned it through another, and that for the sake both of
his peace and my own, I entreated him to make no attempt to approach
me. This is all, nor will there ever be more. It is not my custom to
ask of those that love me, to sacrifice for me their futures and their
lives. And that would be the case here. That person can enter into no
engagements without his father's consent, and my father has taken care
that this consent shall never be given. He will only be free after his
father's death. Before this happens years may pass. He shall not
sacrifice those years to me."

"And he consents to this," I cried, indignantly; "he does not rather
renounce his title and inheritance than give you up? He does not rather
allow himself to be torn to pieces than renounce you? And this man
possesses millions, and calls himself a prince."

"You know, then, who it was?" asked Constance, apparently alarmed,
adding with bitterness: "To be sure, why should you not? Of course you
are my father's confidant, and told him the whole adventure at once, as
in duty bound."

"I never breathed a word of it to any living creature," I answered,
"nor has Herr von Zehren ever in my presence uttered the name of the
prince."

"What need of the name?" she retorted. "Things can be plainly told
without mentioning names. But, whatever he may have told you, he never
told you that Carl is my betrothed; that our union was prevented by his
fault alone; that he has ruthlessly sacrificed my happiness to a
haughty caprice, to revenge himself upon the father of my betrothed at
the cost of us both; and that far from offering me an at least
tolerable existence in requital for the brilliant future out of which
he has cheated me, makes my life a daily and hourly torment. He killed
my mother, and he will kill me."

"For God's sake, do not talk in that way," I cried.

"This life is no life; it is death--worse than death," she murmured,
letting her head sink upon the table.

"Then you still love him who has abandoned you?" I said.

"No," she replied, raising her head; "no! I have already told you that
as it is, so it must remain. I have freely and entirely renounced him.
I am too proud to give my heart--which is all I have to give--to one
who does not give me all in return. And, George, can one give more than
his heart?"

I would have answered, "Then, Constance, you have my all;" but my voice
failed me. I could but gaze at her with a look in which lay my whole
heart--the full heart of a youth, overflowing with foolish, faithful
love.

She pressed my hand, and said, "My good George, I will--yes, I must
believe that you are true to me. And now that we have had our talk out,
and are good friends again, let us go to the house, where old Pahlen
will be expecting me to breakfast."

She had fallen at once into the tone in which we had commenced the
conversation, and continued:

"Do you go shooting to-day? Are you fond of shooting? I used to go
sometimes; but that is long ago--so long ago! I used to be a good
rider, and now I think I could not keep my seat in the saddle. I have
unlearned everything; but chiefly how to be gay. Are you always
cheerful, George? I often hear you singing in the morning such charming
merry songs; you have a fine voice. You should teach me your songs; I
know none but sad ones."

How enchanting this prattle was to me! But as her recent unkindness had
made me silent and reserved, so now the unlooked-for kindness she
showed me produced the same effect. I went by her side, with a half
confused, half happy smile upon my face, across the wide lawn to the
house, where, on reaching her terrace, we separated, after exchanging
another pressure of the hand.

In three bounds I had ascended the steep stair, flung open violently
the door of my room, but stopped upon the threshold with some surprise,
as I saw Herr von Zehren sitting in the great high-backed chair at the
window.

He half turned his head, and said:

"You have kept me waiting long; I have been sitting here fully an
hour."

This did not tend to restore my composure; from his chair one could see
across the lawn directly to the seat under the maple. If Herr von
Zehren had been sitting here an hour, he had certainly seen with his
keen eyes much more than I could have wished. I returned his salutation
with great embarrassment, which certainly did not diminish when he
said, with a gesture towards the seat: "Mary Stuart, George, eh? Sir
Paulet the cruel jailor with the great bunch of keys? Enthusiastic
Mortimer--'Life is but a moment, and death but another'--eh? Faithless
Lord Leicester, who has the convenient habit of taking ship for France
as soon as heads are in danger!"

He filliped the ash from his cigar, and then with one of those
instantaneous changes of humor to which I had grown accustomed, began
to laugh aloud, and said:

"No, my dear George, you must not turn such a look of indignation upon
me. I am really your friend; and, as I said to you yesterday, it is no
fault of yours, and I frankly ask you to forgive me if I yesterday for
a moment made you suffer for what you are entirely innocent of. She has
to play her comedies; she has done it from a child. I have indeed often
feared that she gets it from her unhappy mother. Many a one has
suffered from it, and I not the least; but you I would willingly save.
I have often enough warned you indirectly, and now do it plainly. What
are you about?"

I had, at his last words, hurried across the room and seized my hat,
which hung by the door. "What are you about?" he cried again, springing
from his chair, and catching me by the arm.

"I am going," I stammered, while my eyes filled with tears that I
vainly endeavored to repress, "away from here. I cannot bear to hear
Fräulein Constance thus spoken of."

"And then it would be such a happy opportunity to get away from me
too," said he, fixing his large dark eyes upon mine with a piercing
look; "is it not so?"

"Yes," I answered, collecting all my firmness, "and from you too."

"Go then," he said.

I moved towards the door, and was feeling for the latch, for my eyes
were blinded with tears.

"George," he cried, "George!"

The tone cut me to the heart; I turned, and seizing both his hands,
exclaimed:

"No; I cannot do it. You have been so good to me; I cannot leave you of
my own will."

Herr von Zehren led me gently to the great chair, and paced several
times up and down the room, while I buried my head in my hands. Then he
stood before me and said:

"What did Granow say to you yesterday? Did he slander me to you as he
has slandered you to me? Did he warn you against me, as he has warned
me against you? No; do not answer; I do not want to know. It is
just as if I had been there and heard it all. Every one knows how
double-tongued old women talk."

"Then it is not true?" I exclaimed, starting from the chair.
"Certainly, certainly, it is not true; I never believed it. I did not
believe that miserable creature yesterday--not for one moment."

"And now only, for the first time?" said he, turning his piercing look
again upon me. But I did not again lower my eyes; I met his gaze
firmly, and calmly answered:

"I will not believe it until I hear it from your own lips."

"And if I confirm it, what then?"

"Then I will implore you to have nothing more to do with it. It cannot
end well, and it fills me with horror to think that it might end
terribly."

"You think," he said, and a bitter smile contracted his features, "that
it would not be a pleasant thing to read in the papers: 'To-day Malte
von Zehren of Zehrendorf was condemned to twenty years' hard labor, and
in pursuance of his sentence was conveyed to the penitentiary at S.,
the director of which, as is well known, is the brother of the
criminal?' Well, it would not be the first time that a Zehren was an
inmate of a prison."

He laughed, and began to speak with vehemence, sometimes pacing the
room, and then stopping before me.

"Not the first time. When I was young--it may now be thirty years ago,
or more--there stood in their cursed nest, in a waste place between the
town wall and the ramparts, an old half-rotten gallows, and on the
gallows were nailed two rusty iron plates, upon which there stood
half-defaced names, and one of these names was _Malte von Zehren_, with
the date 1436. I recognized it by the date; and one night, with the
friend of my youth, Hans von Trantow--the father of our Hans--I
wrenched it off, cut down the gallows, and pitched it over the rampart
into the fosse. Do you know how my ancestor's name came there? He had a
feud with the Peppersacks there in the town, and they had sworn, if
they caught him, to hang him on the gallows. And though he heard of it,
and knew that there would be no mercy for him, he slipped into the town
in disguise, during the carnival, for the love of a townsman's pretty
daughter. You see, my dear George, the women--they are at the bottom of
all mischief. And they caught him too, early next morning, as he was
stealing away, flung him into the dungeon, and the next day he was to
be hanged, to the delight of all the good townsfolk. But a page who
accompanied him, and who had escaped, carried the news to Hans von
Trantow, and Hans sent off a score of riders to all cousins and
kinsfolk over the whole island, and that night they crossed over in
twenty boats, two hundred of them, with Hans at their head, forced
their way into the town, broke into the dungeon and rescued my
ancestor, the good fellows, and then set the old nest on fire at its
four corners and burned it down. So as the townsmen had lost Malte von
Zehren, they contented themselves with nailing his name upon the
gallows.

"And what was the origin of the feud? The Sound-dues, which the Lords
of Zehren had levied for centuries, and which the Peppersacks now laid
claim to. By what right? I ask you now, by what right? At a time when
their pedlars' nest was a mere cluster of hovels inhabited by wretched
fishermen, the Zehrens were living as lords and masters in a
block-house surrounded by a rampart, as men used to do in the earliest
times; then in a castle of stone, with towers and battlements, and as
far as the eye can reach from up yonder over forests and coves into the
island, no hearth smoked in house or hut at which vassals and retainers
of the castle did not warm themselves; and as far as the eye can reach
from up there over the sea, no sail swelled and no pennon flew that did
not pay tribute to the castle. Do you think, young man, that things
like these can be forgotten? Do you suppose that I can learn to feel
myself under one law with a crew that crawled before my ancestors
in the dust? or to acknowledge any master over me? _By the grace of
God_--and what is that? Where were these fellows 'by the grace of God'
four or five hundred years ago? I could sit where they sit now, with
just as good a right; my escutcheon instead of theirs would flaunt on
every gate and guard-house, and in my name would tolls and taxes be
levied. And now 'sdeath! here I sit, a Lord Lack-all, in this box of
stone, which before long will fall in over my head, and not a foot of
the soil on which I tread can I call my own. See there--" he stepped
to the open window, and pointed out with a hand trembling with
emotion--"you once asked me why I did not turn those into money. There
are thousands upon thousands in the forest, and I answered that I had
not the heart to have the old trees hewn down. It was the truth; I
could not do it; and the only right that I have over them is that I can
keep them from being cut down as long as I live. Not a tree belongs to
me--not a sapling--not enough to serve for my coffin; every twig
belongs to that mountebank, your Cr[oe]sus, who calls himself
commerzienrath, and is well named Streber [Striver.] I see the
stockfish still, distorting his crooked mouth as he counted down the
pittance on the table and crammed the contract into his pocket. He
thought: 'It will not last him long, and then he will blow out his
brains.' It has not lasted long; and he may have been as correct in his
other anticipation.

"But I cannot imagine what talkative demon possesses me this morning; I
believe that I have been infected by that old washerwoman, Granow. Or
perhaps it is because I have to make up for yesterday evening. In
truth, George, I missed you exceedingly. Trantow, the good fellow,
brought me home out of pure compassion, because he saw what a trial it
would be to me to smoke my last cigar alone. And I tell you it cost me
dearly that you were not with me. It went hard with me, George,
terribly hard. Old hawk as I am, they plucked me until the feathers
flew; but we will pay them back this evening. We shall meet at
Trantow's, where I have always been lucky; but you are not to quit my
side. And now drink your coffee, and come down in half an hour; I have
a letter or two to write; the steuerrath wants to be once more
delivered from his thousand-and-one embarrassments; but this time I
cannot help him, at all events not today; he must wait awhile yet. In
half an hour then, and afterwards we will go down to the beach. I feel
a little feverish to-day, and the sea-breeze will do me good."

He went, and left me in a singular frame of mind. I felt as if he had
told me everything, and yet, when I thought it over, it was no more
than what he had often said to me before. I felt as if I had bound
myself to him body and soul, and yet he had taken no promise from me.
But this was just the thing which made me feel more than ever attached
to this singular man. If he was magnanimous enough not to take me with
him upon his ship, which he saw was driving to destruction, could I
stand calmly on the safe shore and watch him struggling and sinking in
the waves?

My youthful fancy kindled at his romantic story of the knight who had
been at feud with my native town. I wished that I had been there; I
fancied myself playing the part of the page who made his way out at
risk of his life to bring help and rescue to his beloved lord. Should
my thoughts be more mean, my actions more craven than those of that
boy? And were we not in similar circumstances? Was not my knight at the
last extremity? Had not the Peppersacks taken his all?--left him
nothing of all the heritage of his ancestors--him, that kingly man? How
he had stood before me, the tall noble form with flashing eyes, and
anguish imprinted in his pale, deeply-furrowed face with its flowing
beard. This man to have planned to sell his daughter! And a creature
like the commerzienrath should one day be lord here in his stead! The
creature with his close-shaven fox-face, his blinking, thievish eyes,
and his clumsy, greedy hands; the man who had foredoomed me to the
gallows. Yes, they had dealt with me no better than with my knight.
They had driven me out of the town, and now, thank heaven, I had a
right to hate them as I had always despised.

Thus my foolish brain was heated more and more. The charm of adventure,
the inward delight in this uncontrolled life, which I called liberty, a
monstrous confusion of the conceptions of right and duty, gratitude,
hot blood of youth, passionate first-love--all held me spell-bound in
this charmed circle, which was a world to me. All drew me with
irresistible force to the man who seemed to me the perfect ideal of a
knight and a hero, to the lovely maiden who so far exceeded my wildest
dreams. And the fact that these two, to whom I clung with equal love,
stood opposed to each other, only tended to confirm the dream of my own
indispensability. In their several ways, each had been equally kind to
me, had shown me equal confidence. The fulfilment of my most ardent
wish, that of seeing them reconciled, had never appeared so near as
this morning, when I paced my room and looked out of the windows at the
blue sky, in which great white motionless clouds were standing, and
upon the park whose majestic groups of trees and broad expanses of
grass were magically lighted by the splendor of the sun.

How could I have believed that these white clouds would so soon spread
into a sable pall and obscure that sun--that I had seen my paradise in
its magic radiance for the last time?



                              CHAPTER XII.


The confidence with which Herr von Zehren had looked forward to that
evening, which at the very least was to repair his former ill-fortune,
was after all a deceitful one. It may be that an incident which
occurred just previously, deprived him of that coolness which this
evening he more than ever needed. For on our way up from the beach,
where we had shot a brace of rabbits among the dunes, as crossing the
heath we drew near to Trantowitz, a cavalcade of ladies and gentlemen,
attended by a couple of liveried servants, came galloping by. My
attention was entirely attracted by a slender young man riding a superb
English horse, who, at the moment he passed me, was leaning over to one
of the ladies with a charming smile on his pale face, on which a downy
moustache just darkened the upper lip. The lady gave her horse a sudden
cut with the whip, and they shot on in advance. I gazed for a moment
after the company, and was turning to Herr von Zehren with the
question: "Who are they?" when I checked myself in surprise at the
change in his countenance. We had just been chatting pleasantly
together, and there now lay in his looks an expression of the blackest
wrath, and he had unslung his gun and half raised it to his shoulder,
as if he would send a shot after the retreating party. Then he flung it
hastily over his shoulder again, and walked a short distance silent at
my side, until he suddenly broke out into the most furious execrations,
which I had never before heard from him, though he could be angry
enough upon occasion. "The hound!" he exclaimed, "he dares to come here
upon the soil that belongs to my friend Trantow! And I stand quietly
here and do not drive a charge of shot through him! Do you know who
that was, George? The villain who will one day be lord of a hundred
manors which by right are all mine, whose ancestors were my ancestors'
vassals, and whose scoundrelly father came to me to tell me in my own
apartment that he desired to marry his son according to his rank, and
that he trusted we could come to some satisfactory arrangement. I
clutched him by his accursed throat, and would have strangled him if
others had not come between us. The thing has been gnawing at my heart
incessantly, ever since I heard that the villain was going about the
neighborhood here. And now you know why Constance and I are upon so
unfortunate a footing. Heaven knows what fancies she is nursing; and it
drives me mad to see that her thoughts still cling to the miscreant who
has offered her the grossest insult that man can offer to woman; who
has tarnished my ancestral escutcheon, and should fight me to the
death, but for----"

He checked himself suddenly, and walked silently by my side, gnawing
his lip. Not noticing the irregularities of the wretched road, he
stumbled once or twice, and this stumbling, combined with the
expression of his face, in which the wrinkles deepened to furrows
whenever he was under strong emotion, gave him the appearance of a
broken old man consumed by impotent anger. Never before had he appeared
so much in need of help, so worthy of compassion, and never before had
I pitied him so, or so yearned to assist him. At the same time I
thought that so favorable an opportunity to clear up the
misunderstanding that evidently existed between father and daughter in
reference to their relations with the prince, would not easily again
occur. So I plucked up a heart and asked:

"Does Fräulein Constance know how much she has been insulted?"

"How? What do you mean?" he asked in return.

I told him what I had been speaking of with Constance that morning; how
little suspicion she seemed to have of the outrage that had been
offered her; that on the contrary she had expressly told me that she
had been betrothed to the prince, that their predetermined union had
been prevented by Herr von Zehren's fault alone, and that she had
renounced freely and utterly all thought of the possibility of their
marriage. But the audacity with which he had attempted to approach her,
the correspondence which had taken place between them, I kept to
myself, feeling that this would only awaken anew the wrath of the Wild
Zehren, and render him deaf to all reason.

But it was all to no purpose. He listened to me with every sign of
impatience, and when I paused for breath in my eagerness, he broke out:

"Does she say that? What will she not say? And that too now, after I
have told her not once, but a hundred times, what was asked of me, how
my honor and my name were trampled in the mire! She will next
asseverate that the Emperor of China has been a suitor for her hand,
and that it is my fault that she is not now enthroned in Pekin! Why
not? _Turandot_ is as pretty a part as _Mary Stuart_. Prepare yourself
soon to see her in Chinese attire."

It was easy to perceive how little mirth lay in these mocking words,
and I did not venture to press further so painful a theme. We came,
besides, in a few minutes to Trantowitz, where Hans received us at the
door with his good-natured laugh, and led us into his living-room,
(which, besides his chamber, was the sole habitable apartment in the
great house,) where the other guests were assembled.

The evening passed like so many others. Play began before supper, and
was resumed after that meal, during which the bottle had circulated
freely. I had resolved not to play, and could the more easily keep this
resolution, as all the rest, with the exception of our host, whom
nothing could move from his accustomed equanimity, were entirely
absorbed by the unusually high play, and had not time to pay any
attention to me.

So there I sat, in the recess of a window, at a little distance from
the table, and watched the company, whose behavior now, when I was not
a participant in it, seemed strange enough. The fiery eyes in the
flushed faces; the silence only broken by the monotonous phrases of the
banker, or a hoarse laugh or muttered curse from the players; the
avidity with which they poured down the flasks of wine; the whole
scene wrapped in a gray cloud of cigar-smoke which grew denser every
moment;--it was far from a pleasant sight, and strange, confused,
painful thoughts whirled through my weary brain, as I sat watching the
fortunes of the play, and listening at intervals to the rustling of the
night-wind that bent the old poplars before the house, and drove a few
rain-drops against the windows. Suddenly I was aroused from a half doze
by a loud uproar that broke out among the players. They sprang from
their chairs and vociferated at each other with wild looks and
threatening gestures; but the tumult subsided as quickly as it had
arisen, and they sat again bending in silence over their cards, and
once more I listened to the wind in the poplars, and the dashing of the
rain against the panes, until at last I fell asleep.

A hand upon my shoulder aroused me. It was Herr von Zehren. The first
look at his pale face, from which his eyes were flashing wildly, told
me that he had been losing again, and he confirmed it as we walked back
the short distance to Zehrendorf through the black tempestuous night.

"It is all over with me," he said; "my old luck has abandoned me; the
sooner I blow out my brains the better. To be sure, I have a week yet.
Sylow, who is a good fellow, has given me so much time. In a week
perhaps all may be managed; only to-morrow the draft falls due, and of
course my brother cannot pay it. I must see about it, I must see about
it."

He spoke more to himself than to me. Suddenly he stopped, looked up at
the black lowering clouds, then walked on, muttering between his teeth:

"I knew it, I knew it, as soon as I saw the villain. It could not but
bring me ill-luck; his accursed face has always brought me misfortune.
And now to have to see how they quaff the foam from the beaker of life,
while they leave us the bitter dregs! And I cannot have revenge--cannot
take his life!"

We had reached a piece of woods near the house, which was really a
projecting corner of the forest, but was considered as part of the
park. The road here divided; the broader fork led along the edge of the
wood; and the narrower, which was only a foot-path, ran directly
through the trees. This was the nearer way, but also the rougher and
darker, and Herr von Zehren, who in his present ill-humor had more than
once grumbled at the darkness and the bad road, proposed that we should
not take our usual path through the park.

"I should like to find out," I said, "if the buck whose tracks we saw
day before yesterday, is belling in the south forest again. We cannot
hear it from here, but in there we ought to hear it."

"You go through, then," he said, "but do not stay too long."

"I expect I shall be at the other side before you."

It was not so dark in the woods as I had feared; at times the moon
shone pretty bright through the scudding clouds. I reproached myself
for leaving Herr von Zehren alone at this hour, and had thoughts of
turning back; but, impelled by the hunter's ardor, I pushed on, slowly
and cautiously, often stopping and listening, while I held my breath,
to see if I could catch any sound of the buck in the woods. Once I
thought I heard a faint bellow, but I was not quite sure. If so, it
must be very distant, and in a different quarter from where we expected
the buck to be at this hour. It might be another. I was anxious to find
out, and stood still again to listen. Suddenly I heard a noise behind
me like the trot of a horse coming along the path in which I was. My
heart stopped for an instant, and then began to beat violently. Who
could be the rider, in the dead of night, upon a path lying alongside
the main road to the castle?

The sound of the horse's hoofs, at first faint, had grown louder, and
then suddenly ceased. In its place I now distinctly heard the steps of
a man coming through the woods towards the place where I was standing,
a little out of the path, in the dark shadow of some high trees. It
could be no one but _he_. My heart, that was violently beating, cried
to me that it could be no one but he. I tore the gun from my shoulder,
as Herr von Zehren had done at the sight of the man he hated. Then, as
he had done, I threw it back over my shoulder, so that I had both arms
free. What did I need for such a fellow but those two arms of mine?

And just then I saw him plainly before me, as the moon slipped from
behind a black cloud, and threw through the trees a clear light exactly
upon the place where he was passing: the same slender form, and even in
the same riding-dress--a low-crowned hat, close-fitting coat, trimmed
with fur, and boots of soft leather reaching half-way up the thigh--one
bound, one clutch--I had him in my hands!

The surprise must have paralyzed him at the moment, for he uttered no
cry, and scarcely made a movement. But this was only for a moment, and
then with an exertion of strength for which I had not given him credit,
he strove to free himself from my grasp. So might a leopard, caught in
the hunter's net, struggle frantically, leap, rend with his claws, and
waste his strength in convulsive efforts. The struggle lasted perhaps a
minute, during which time no word was spoken on either side, nor was
any sound audible but our panting. At last his struggles grew weaker
and weaker, his breath began to fail, and finally, yielding, he panted:

"Let me go!"

"Not so soon!"

"In my breast pocket is a pocket-book, with probably a hundred
_thalers_ in it; take them, but let me go!"

"Not for a million!" I said, forcing him, as his strength was utterly
exhausted, down to his knees.

"What do you want? Do you mean to murder me?" he panted.

"Only to give you a lesson," I said, and picked up his riding-whip,
which had fallen while we were struggling, the silver handle of which
caught my eye as it glittered in the moonlight.

"For God's sake, do not do that," he said, grasping convulsively the
hand in which I held the whip. "Kill me on the spot; I will not move
nor utter a cry; but do not strike me!"

Such a request in such a tone could not fail to make a powerful
impression upon a heart like mine. I no longer beheld in my antagonist
the enemy of the Wild Zehren his daughter's lover. I saw in him only a
boy who was in my power, and who would rather die than undergo
disgrace. Involuntarily the hand with which I grasped him by the breast
unclosed; indeed I believe I lifted him to his feet.

Scarcely did he feel himself free, when he hastily stepped back a few
paces, and in a tone the lightness of which was in strong contrast with
the terror he had first felt, said:

"If you were a nobleman, you should give me satisfaction; but as you
are not, I warn you to be on your guard: I do not always travel without
arms."

He slightly touched his hat, turned upon his heel, and walked back by
the way he had come.

I stood as if rooted to the spot, and gazed after the slender figure,
which soon vanished in the dark shadows of the forest. I knew that with
a bound or two I could overtake him, but I felt not the slightest
impulse to attempt it. The young prince had rightly judged the young
plebeian. I would as lief have hewn off my hand as to raise it again
against a man whom I had in a manner pardoned. And then I thought of
what Granow had said, that were he the prince, he would not like to
meet Herr von Zehren, and how very nearly this meeting had taken place,
and that too at a moment when it would have given the Wild Zehren
delight to shed his enemy's blood, and his own afterwards.

And now I heard a slight neigh, and then the gallop of a horse.

"Thank heaven!" I cried, drawing a deep breath, "it is better so, and
it will be a lesson to him."

I thought no more of the buck. I scarcely listened when he began to
bellow, at no great distance from me. I hurried on at a run to make up
for the time I had lost, and in deep anxiety lest Herr von Zehren
should have heard the gallop of the horse, for it was not possible that
he could have heard anything that had happened in the wood.

But my anxiety was without cause. The Wild Zehren was too safely
plunged in reflections over his misfortune for his senses to be as
acute as they usually were. He did not even ask me about the buck; and
I was glad that I was under no necessity of speaking. Thus we walked
silently on until we reached the castle.

In the hall we were met as usual by the sleepless old Christian.
Letters had come by express: he had laid them on his master's
writing-table.

"Come in," said Herr von Zehren, "while I see what they are about."

We entered. "This one is for you, and so is this," he said, handing me
two of the letters from the table.

The first letter was from my friend Arthur. It read:

"You have not sent me the money I asked you for; but that is the way:
when we have anything, our friends may look out for themselves. I only
write to you now, in order through you to entreat my uncle to do
something to help papa. Our affairs must be in an awful state, for the
merchant G.--you know whom I mean--from whom I borrowed twenty-five,
saw papa about it to-day, and I did not get the smallest scolding.
Mamma howls all day long. I wish I was a thousand miles away.

"P. S.--Papa has just come from Uncle Commerzienrath with a terribly
long face. It is plain that the old Philistine will do nothing for us.
I tell you Uncle Malte must help us, for we are in a terrible strait."

The second letter was from my father.

"My Son:--In renouncing your filial obedience to me, you compelled me
to abandon all control over you. I have vowed not to restore you to
your place as my son, until you acknowledge your misconduct and entreat
me to do so; and this vow I will keep. To the choice that you have made
for yourself, I have offered no opposition, have allowed you perfect
freedom of action, for which you have always hankered, and am resolved
to do this for the future. But all this cannot prevent me from wishing,
with all my heart, that it may be well with you in the path that you
have chosen for yourself, though I doubt it much; nor can it keep me
from warning you where warning seems necessary. And this is now the
case. Things have reached my ears concerning Herr von Zehren, which I
trust in heaven may be founded upon error, but which are of such a
nature that I think with horror of my son being in the house of a man
under such suspicions, even if false. What I have heard I cannot reveal
to you, as the information has reached me in the line of my official
duties.

"I know that notwithstanding your disobedience, you are incapable of a
base action, and that therefore you are so far safe, even if those
suspicions are true, which God forbid. Still I entreat you, if you have
any regard left for my peace, to leave the house of Herr von Zehren at
once. I add what is scarcely necessary, that for the obedient son I
shall be, what I have always been, his strict but just father."

I had read this letter twice through, and sat still gazing at the
writing, incapable of clear reflection, when Herr von Zehren aroused me
by asking: "Well, George, and what have you there?" I handed him both
letters. He read them, paced the room a while, and then stopping before
me said:

"And what do you propose to do?"

"The opportunity is a good one," he went on, seeing that I hesitated to
answer. "I have a letter from the steuerrath which compels me to start
for the town within the hour. I will take you with me; it is now twelve
o'clock, and in three hours we can be there; you can ring up the old
gentleman; sleep an hour or two in the garret of which you have so
often told me; thank God to-morrow morning that you are clear of the
Wild Zehren, and--go back again to school."

He spoke the last words with a slight contempt, which galled the most
sensitive part in the heart of a young man, that of false pride.

"I will go with you wherever you go!" I exclaimed, starting up. "I said
so this morning, and I now repeat it. Tell me what I shall do."

Herr von Zehren again paced the room for a few moments, and then paused
before me and said in an agitated voice:

"Remain here--for a day or two at all events, until I return. You will
do me a service."

I looked at him interrogatively.

"If you return now to-day," he continued, "that will only have the
effect of confirming the rumors of which your father writes. The rats
are leaving the house, they will say, and justly. And just now it is of
importance to me that people shall say nothing, that as little
attention as possible shall be directed to me. Do you understand,
George?"

"No," I answered; "why now especially?"

I looked fixedly at him; he bore the scrutiny, and after a while
answered, speaking slowly and in a low voice:

"Ask no further, George. Perhaps I would tell you if you could help me;
perhaps I would not. They say of me that I use men and then throw them
away when they can be of no further service to me. It may be so; I do
not know that the most deserve any better treatment. With you, at all
events, I would not thus deal, for I like you. And now go to bed, and
let the Wild Zehren play out the game. Perhaps he will break the bank,
and then I promise you it will be the last of his playing."

At this moment the wagon drove up; while reading my father's letter, I
had not heard the order to old Christian to have the horses put to.
Herr von Zehren looked through his papers, put some in his pocket, and
locked others in his cabinet. Then old Christian helped him on with his
furred cloak, he put on his hat, and stepping up to me, offered me his
hand.

I had watched all his movements in a sort of stupefaction.

"And I cannot help you?" I now asked.

"No," he replied, "or only by waiting quietly here until I return. Your
hand is cold as ice; go to bed."

I accompanied him to the door. His hunting-wagon was waiting, and long
Jock, who usually filled the office of coachman, was on the front seat.

"The wagon will only take me to the ferry, and then return," said Herr
von Zehren.

"And Jock?" I asked in a whisper.

"Goes with me."

"Take me in his place," I asked, imploringly.

"It cannot be," he said, with his foot upon the step.

"I entreat you," I urged, holding him by the cloak.

"It cannot be," he repeated. "We have not a minute to spare.
Good-night! Drive on!"

The wagon drove off; the dogs yelped and barked, and then all was still
again. Old Christian hobbled across the yard with his lantern, and
vanished into one of the old buildings. I stood alone before the house,
under the trees, in which the wind roared. The rain began to fall in
torrents; shivering I returned to the house and carefully secured the
door.

The light was still burning in Herr von Zehren's room. I went to get it
and also my letters that were lying upon his table. As I took them I
espied a paper on the floor, and picked it up to see what it was. A few
words were written upon it, and I had read them before I thought what I
was doing. The words were these:

"I am ruined if you do not save me. G. will give me no more time; St.
is immovable; the draft will be protested. I put myself in your hands.
You have held me above water too long to let me drown now. The moment,
too, is as favorable as possible for the matter you know of. I can and
will take care that no one sees our cards. But whatever is done, must
be done at once. I have not always the game in my hand. Come at once, I
adjure you, by what is most sacred to you--by our ancient name! Burn
this at once."

The paper was not signed, but I recognized the writing immediately. I
had seen it often enough in the documents on my father's table, and I
could at once have affixed the signature with its pretentious flourish,
which I had often enough tried to imitate.

This paper Herr von Zehren must have dropped while hastily thrusting it
with the others into his pocket.

I looked at it again, and was once more trying to unriddle its
enigmatical contents, when the candle, already burned to the socket,
gave signs of going out. "Burn this at once!"--it was as if a voice had
uttered this command close to my ear. I held the paper in the flame; it
blazed up; the candle went out at the same moment; a glowing scrap of
tinder fluttered to my feet, and then all around me was thickest
darkness.

I groped my way from the room, through the dining-room to the hall, up
the narrow stairway to my chamber, and after searching in vain for a
match, threw myself dressed upon my bed.

But in vain did I, tossing restlessly upon my couch, endeavor to sleep.
Every moment I started up in terror, fancying in my excitement that I
heard a voice calling for help, or a step hurrying towards my door,
while I kept racking my brain in the vain attempt to devise some plan
for rescuing the two so dear to me from the ruin which I had a
presentiment was impending over them, whose coming the elements
themselves seemed to announce in thunder; and execrated my cowardice,
my indecision, my helplessness.

It was a fearful night.

A terrible storm had arisen; the wind raved about the old pile, which
shook to its foundations. The tiles came clattering down from the
roofs; the rusted weather-cocks groaned and creaked; the shutters
banged, and the third shutter to the right made frantic efforts now or
never to get loose from the single hinge by which it had hung for
years. The screech-owls in the crevices of the walls hooted dismally,
and the dogs howled, while the gusts of wind dashed torrents of rain
against the windows.

It seemed as if the ancient mansion of Zehrendorf knew what fate was
awaiting its possessor and itself.



                             CHAPTER XIII.


My first sensation, as I awaked late, was a feeling of thankfulness
that it was day; my second was one of shame at having been so
powerfully affected by the terrors of the night. When but a small boy,
I used to think that I cast the most odious reproach upon an adversary
when I termed him a coward, and this morning I felt that the same
stigma might be justly affixed to myself. But that comes, I said to
myself while dressing, from not looking things in the face and telling
people the truth. Why did I not frankly say to Herr von Zehren, I know
the object of your journey? He would then have taken me with him, and I
should not have to sit here like a child that is kept in the house when
it rains.

I opened a window and looked out, in a gloomy frame of mind, and the
scene that met my eyes was far from cheerful. The wind, which blew from
the west, drove swirling masses of gray mist through the gigantic
trees, which tossed their mighty arms about, as if in torment, above
the wide lawn which had so often charmed me with its long waving grass,
and which now was a mere morass. A flock of crows flew up with harsh
cawings into the stormy air, which hurled them about at its pleasure.
At this moment the wind flung to a shutter with so much violence that
fragments of the rotten wood flew about my head. I tore away from the
hinge what was left of it, and threw it down. "I'll not be troubled by
you tonight, at all events," I said, fastening the window again, and
then I determined to take the rest in hand. Leaving my own room, I made
the round of the upper story. As I opened the door of the room where
the pile of books lay, a dozen rats sprang down from the window-sills
and dived into their hiding-places. The rain had driven in through some
broken panes, and the gray rascals had been enjoying the welcome
refreshment. "You have not quitted the house yet, it seems," I said,
recalling Herr von Zehren's words; "should I be more cowardly than you,
you thievish crew?"

I climbed over the pile of books to the nearest door, and wandered
through the empty rooms, securing all the shutters that had any
fastenings left, and lifting from their hinges and throwing down those
that were past securing. The one belonging to the third window, which
had been the principal object of my expedition, had terminated its
afflicted existence in the night.

On my way back I entered the hall with the great staircase, where in
the dim light that fell through the dull panes covered with dust and
cobwebs, it looked more ghostly than ever. A suit of armor which was
fastened to the wall at some height from the floor, it required no
great stretch of fancy to turn into the corpse of a hanged man. I
wondered if it was the armor of that Malte von Zehren whose name, in
default of himself, the honest burghers of my native town had affixed
to their gallows.

I do not know what put it into my head to descend the staircase and
wander about the narrow passages of the lower story. My footsteps
sounded eerily hollow in the vacant corridors; and the chilly damp from
the bare walls, like those of a vault, seemed to strike doubly cold to
my feverish frame. Perhaps I had an idea of punishing myself for my
terrors of the past night, and of demonstrating to myself the
childishness of my apprehensions. Still it was not without a start and
a decidedly uncomfortable feeling that I suddenly came upon an opening
in the wall at a spot which I had often before passed without
perceiving any sign of a door, through which opening I caught sight of
a yawning black chasm, at the bottom of which a faint glimmer of light
was perceptible. Peering more closely into it, I could make out the
commencement of a flight of steps. Without a moment's hesitation I
began, at peril of my neck, to descend a narrow and very steep stair,
slowly groping my way with both hands touching the wall on each side of
me, until the faint glimmer at the bottom suddenly disappeared. As I
reached the floor of the cellar it became visible again, but not now an
uncertain glimmer, but a distinct light moving about a short distance
from me, and apparently proceeding from a lantern in the hand of a man
who was exploring the cellar. As I moved faster than the man, whose
shuffling footsteps probably covered the sound of mine, I speedily
overtook him, and laid my hand upon the shoulder of--old Christian, for
he it was. He stopped with a half cry, luckily without dropping his
lantern, and looked round at me with the utmost terror in his old
wrinkled face.

"What are you doing here. Christian?" I asked.

He still stared at me in silence. "You need not be afraid of me," I
said: "you know I am your friend."

"It is not for myself," the old man answered at last. "I dare not bring
any one down here; he would kill me."

"You did not bring me down here," I said.

Christian, whose feeble old limbs were yet trembling from his first
fright, now sat down upon a chest, and placed the lantern by him. While
he was recovering himself, I took a survey of the cellar. It had a low
vaulted ceiling, supported at various points by strong columns, and was
evidently of considerable extent, though how considerable I could not
determine, as the extremities were lost in darkness.

Against one of these columns not far off stood a desk with a great
lantern over it, and on the desk lay a large thick book, like a
merchant's "blotter." Near this were chests of tea, with Chinese
figures marked on them--evidently original packages--piled up to a
great height, and everywhere that I looked were empty boxes and casks,
piled in a certain business-like order. Many a year must have passed
ere all these boxes were emptied and all these casks drained; many a
dollar must have been lost and won in the process, and many a human
life must have been risked, and probably lost too. At that time not a
year passed that the smuggling in this region by land and water did not
cost more than one life; and how many did it cost whose loss was not
known? Peter, for instance, who was shot by the coastguard in the
woods, and dragged himself, mortally wounded, to his hut; or Claas,
who, flying hastily across the morass, missed his footing and sank;
whose kindred found it prudent to say as little about the matter as
possible.

Many things of this sort I had heard from my father and his colleagues,
and they recurred to my mind as I looked around this vast cellar, which
wore in the pale light from the old man's lantern much the appearance
of a gigantic church-vault, in which mouldering coffins that had done
their service were piled up around, and the damp chilly vapor in which
might be fancied to proceed from fresh graves dug in lightless space
beyond the columns.

This then was the foundation of the house of the Von Zehrens. That
high-born race had dwelt over this vault, and lived upon these heaps of
decay. No wonder the fields lay fallow, and the barns were tumbling to
ruin. Here was the sowing and the harvest--an evil sowing, which could
bring no other than an evil harvest.

I will not maintain that precisely these thoughts passed through my
mind in precisely this order, while I stood by the old man and let my
gaze wander through the recesses of the cellar. I only know that my old
feeling of horror for that traffic into whose secret adyta I had
penetrated, returned upon me with full force, and with the clearly
defined sensation that I now pertained to it and was one of the
initiated, and that it was foolish and to a certain extent offensive in
the old man to wish to make any secret to me of matters and relations
which I so thoroughly fathomed and so well understood.

"Well, Christian," said I, taking a seat opposite the old man, and
lighting a cigar at his lantern as a mark of my perfect composure,
"what will we get this time?"

"Tea or silk," muttered he; "if it were wine, brandy, or salt, he would
have ordered the wagons."

"To be sure, he would then have ordered the wagons," I repeated, as if
this were a mere matter of course. "And when do you expect him back? He
told me to-night that he could not possibly determine."

"Most likely to-morrow; but I will open the great door anyhow, as we
cannot be certain."

"Of course we cannot be certain," I said. The old man had arisen and
taken up his lantern, and I arose also.

We kept on, and came into another space filled with the scent of wine,
where casks were piled on casks, as the old man showed me by holding up
his lantern as high as he could reach.

"This all lies here from last year," he said.

"Yes," I answered, repeating what Granow had said; "the business is bad
just now; the people in Uselin have grown shy since so many have taken
to dabbling in it."

The old man, who was taciturnity itself, did not answer, but it seemed
that I had attained my aim of gaining his confidence. He nodded and
muttered an assent to my words, as he shuffled along.

The cellar seemed to have no end; but at last Christian stopped and
placed the lantern upon the ground. Before us was a broad staircase,
above which was an apparatus of strong beams, such as is used for
lowering casks and heavy boxes. The staircase was closed above by a
large and massive trap-door, covered with plates of iron, and secured
by immense bolts. These the old man pushed back with my help.

"So," said he, "now they can come whenever they please.

"Whenever they please," I repeated.

We returned silently by the way we had come, and ascended the steep
stair at the entrance. The old man pressed a spring, and the opening in
the wall was closed by a sliding door which was fitted so artistically,
and was so exactly of the same tint of dirty gray, that none but one of
the initiated could have discovered its existence, to say nothing of
opening it.

Old Christian extinguished his lantern, and went before me to the end
of the corridor, after which we separated in the smaller court-yard. He
passed through a small gate into the main court; I remained behind and
looked cautiously around to see if any one was observing me; but there
were only the crows, who, perched upon one of the low roofs, with heads
on one side, were scrutinizing all my movements. This little court had
looked poorly enough in the sunshine, but now in the rain its
appearance was inexpressibly forlorn. The buildings huddled together as
if trying to shelter themselves as well as they could from the wind and
the rain, and yet seemed every moment in danger of tumbling down from
sheer dilapidation. Who would look here for the entrance to the secret
cellar? And yet here somewhere it must be. I had noticed the direction
and extent of the subterranean space, for I wanted to know all, since I
already knew so much. I wished to be no longer kept in the dark as to
what was going on around me.

My conclusion was verified: in the miserable old servant's kitchen,
from which a wide door led to the inclosed space with the heaps of
refuse, under a pile of old barrels, boards, half-rotten straw, heaped
together, as I now perceived, with a careful imitation of carelessness,
I detected the same trap-door which the old man had bolted in the
cellar. Here upon the outside it was secured with a massive iron bar,
and a lock, the key of which doubtless Herr von Zehren carried about
him. I replaced the rubbish, and stole away as furtively as a thief,
for the proverb says truly that "the concealer is as bad as the
stealer," not only before the law, but even more surely before his own
conscience.

I turned into the park and strolled about the walks. A heavy drizzle
was still falling, but the fog had lifted a little, and was rolling
away in heavy gray masses over the tops of the trees. I stood at the
stone table under the maple whose spreading boughs afforded me some
shelter, and gazed steadfastly at the great melancholy house, that
to-day, since it had disclosed to me its secret, wore quite another
look in my eyes. Could she know what I now knew? Impossible! It was a
thought not to be harbored for a moment. But she must learn it as soon
as possible--or no! she must rather leave this place, where ruin was
threatening her. Away--but whither? to whom? with whom? What a
wretched, pitiful creature was I, who could offer her nothing but this
heart that beat for her, these arms which were strong enough to bear
her away as easily as a child, and with which I could do nothing but
fold them over my breast in impotent despair. Happen what might, she
must, must be saved. Her father might sacrifice me to his vengeance,
but she must escape free!

Some one came from the terrace--it was old Pahlen. She appeared to be
looking for me, for she beckoned to me from a distance with her bony
hands, while her gray hair, flying loose in the wind from under her
dirty cap, would have given her to any one else the appearance of the
witch that had brewed the bad weather. But to me she was a most welcome
apparition, for from whom could she come but from _her_? I ran to meet
her, and scarcely gave her time to deliver her message. A few moments
later, with a heart beating high, I entered Constance's apartment
through the casement-door.

It was the first, and was to be the last time that I entered it, and I
can scarcely give an accurate description of its appearance. I have
only a very dim recollection of large-leaved plants, an open piano,
music, books, articles of dress, all scattered about, of two or three
portraits on the walls, and that the entire floor was covered with a
carpet. This last feature particularly struck me. Carpets covering an
entire room were a rarity at that time, especially in the good town of
Uselin. I had only heard of such luxury by report, and I hardly knew
where to place my foot, although the carpet, I believe, was extremely
threadbare, and in places even torn and worn into holes.

But these, as I have said, are but dim recollections, from which stands
out, clearly and ineffaceably, the picture of Constance. She sat upon a
divan near the window, and at my entrance dropped a piece of embroidery
into her lap, at the same time extending her hand with her peculiar
sweet melancholy smile.

"You are not angry that I sent for you?" she asked, motioning me to
take my place by her side--thereby placing me in no slight
embarrassment, for the divan was low, and my boots not as clean as a
young man could wish who is for the first time received in a carpeted
chamber by the lady of his heart. "I wished to make a request of you.
Pahlen, you can go; I have something to speak of with Herr George
alone."

The old woman gave me one of her suspicious looks, lingered, and only
went after Constance had repeated her order in a sharper tone.

"See, this is the reason I sent for you," Constance began, with a
gesture of the hand towards the door by which the old woman had
departed. "I know how good you are, and how true a friend to me; since
yesterday I have new proof of it, though for a while I was weak enough
to hold you no better than the others. But these others! They do not
know, and cannot, and must not know. Such treasures must be kept
secret; they are too precious for the coarse world. Do you not think
so?"

As I had no idea on what it was that she desired my opinion, I
contented myself with fixing my eyes upon her with a look of respectful
inquiry. She dropped her eyes again to her work, and continued in a
voice not quite so steady: "My father has gone away, I am told; do you
know whither, and for how long a time? But even if he had told you, it
would make no difference; my father is not accustomed to bind himself
by any such announcements. He will go for a stay of three weeks and be
back in three days; he will start to be gone three days, and I will
look for him in vain for as many weeks. There is no probability that he
will this time make any exception to his rule; and whether he really
makes a long or short stay, we must take measures accordingly. It is
not cheerful to be all alone in this desolate and comfortless house,
especially when there is such a terrible storm as there was last night.
It is so pleasant to know that there is some one near at hand in whose
faith and strong arm--they say you are so very strong, George--we can
always trust; but still, so it must be. You feel that as well as I do,
do you not, George?"

This time I knew what she meant: I must go away from here, must leave
her alone, just now, at the very time when I was tormenting myself to
devise some plan to get her away; at the very time when my mind, not
yet recovered from the effects of the terrible night and the adventures
of the morning, was filled with a gloomy presentiment that calamity was
impending over both the house and its inhabitants. I neither knew how
nor what to answer, and looked at Constance in helpless confusion.

"You think it very unfriendly, very inhospitable of me," she said,
after a pause, as if awaiting my answer; "it would be both more
hospitable and more friendly if I myself went away for the time to
visit some female friend; and I admit that any other lady would do so;
but I am so poor as to have no female friend. My father has taken good
care of that. So long as you have been here, has a solitary lady
entered this house? Have you ever heard me speak of a friend, of an
acquaintance of my own sex? 'Constance von Zehren only associates with
men;' that is the way I am spoken of; but heaven knows how entirely
without fault of mine. Do you wish, my good faithful George, to give
evil tongues the opportunity to make my reputation worse than it
already is? Or do you think, with the others, that it cannot be worse?
No; sit still. Why should not friends, as we are, speak calmly of such
things, and calmly consider what is to be done on such an occasion?
Now, what I have thought, is this: You have friends. There is Herr von
Granow, who regularly pays court to you; there is Herr von Trantow, our
good neighbor, who would be so glad to have you with him for a few
days. And then you are quite near me; I can send for you if I want you;
and you know that if ever I need a friend I will turn to no one sooner
that to the only friend I have."

She offered me her hand with an enchanting smile, as if to say: "So
that matter is settled, is it not?"

Her smile and the touch of her dear hand completed the confusion into
which her words had thrown me; but I collected myself with a desperate
effort and stammered:

"I do not know what you will think of me for allowing you to speak so
long on a subject which of course I could not but understand at once;
but I cannot tell you how hard it is for me just now to go away from
you--to leave you just now. Herr von Zehern expressly charged me to
remain here and wait his return, which would happen in a few days,
perhaps to-morrow. He no doubt did that--even though he did not say as
much--with the best intentions; that you might have some one near you,
and might not be left alone in the desolate old house; that----"

I did not know how to continue, Constance fixed her eyes upon me with
so peculiar an expression, and my talent for fiction having always been
of the poorest.

"My father has never shown this tender consideration before," she said.
"Perhaps he thinks that the older I grow, the more I need watching. You
understand me. Or can you have forgotten our discourse of yesterday?"

"I have not forgotten it," I cried, springing hastily from the divan.
"I will not again become an object of your suspicion. I now leave you,
and forever, if you wish it; but others who are assuredly no worthier
than I, shall not enjoy an advantage over me; and if they still venture
to thrust themselves into your neighborhood, or lurk around like a fox
around a dove-cot, they do it at their own peril. I shall not be so
considerate as I was that evening."

"What do you mean? Of whom are you speaking?" exclaimed Constance, who
had also arisen at my last words. She had turned quite pale, and her
features had assumed a new expression.

"Of whom am I speaking?" I said; "of him who, on that evening when I
kept watch at your window, ran from me like a craven; and who last
night, as I was coming with your father from Trantowitz, and took the
way through the woods alone, tried to conceal himself under the trees;
whom I spared out of pity, for I knew that had I betrayed the pitiful
wretch, Herr von Zehren would have shot him dead like a dog. Let him
take care I do not meet him again in the night or by day either: he
will see how much I respect his princeship!"

Constance had turned away while I thus gave vent in anger to the
despair I felt at leaving the beloved maiden forever. Suddenly she
turned her pale face again upon me, with eyes flashing with a strange
light, and exclaimed, holding out her hands as if in supplication:

"That I should hear this from you!--from you! How can I help it if that
man--supposing you were not mistaken, which yet is quite possible--is
driven restlessly about by his evil conscience? It is unhappy enough
for him, if it be so; but how does that concern me? And how can any
danger from that quarter threaten me? And were he now--or at any time
and anywhere--to come before me, what would I, what could I say, but
'We can be nothing to each other, you and I, now nor at any future
time.' I thought, George, you knew all this without my telling you. How
can I wonder that the others so misjudge me, when your judgment of me
is so false, so cruelly false?"

She resumed her seat upon the divan and buried her face in her hands. I
lost all control of myself, paced the room in agitation, and finally,
seeing her bosom heaving with her emotion, threw myself in despair at
her feet.

"My dear, good George," she said, laying her hands on my shoulders. "I
know well that you love me; and I, too, am very fond of you."

The tears rolled down my cheeks. I hid my face in her dress, and
covered her hands with kisses.

"Stand up, George," she whispered, "I hear old Pahlen coming."

I sprang up. In truth the door opened slowly--I think it had never been
entirely closed--and the ugly old woman looked in and asked if she had
been called.

Yes, she had been called. Herr George, who was going to visit Herr von
Trantow for a day or two, had probably some orders to give.

"Farewell," she said, turning to me, "farewell, then, for a few days."
And then bringing her face nearer to mine, and sending me a kiss by the
movement of her lips, she softly whispered, "Farewell, beloved."

I was standing outside the house; the rain, that had re-commenced, was
beating into my burning face; I did not feel it. Rain and storm,
driving clouds and roaring trees, how lovely it all was! How could it
be possible that the world should be so fair--that mortal could be so
happy that she loved me!

When I reached my own room, I gave vent to my rapture in a thousand
idiotic ways. I danced and sang, I threw myself into the old
high-backed chair and wept, then sprang up again, and at last
remembered that I had all that I should need for a stay of but a day or
two, ready packed in my game-bag, and that she would expect that her
orders would be promptly obeyed. Yes; now--now I was ready to go.

And throwing my gun over my shoulder, and calling my dog Caro, who lay
moping under the table, I left the castle.



                              CHAPTER XIV.


Striding along the road to Trantowitz, under the rustling willows,
scarcely seeing the way before me in my excitement, I several times
barely escaped falling from the slippery path into the deep ditch in
which the rain-water was now running in a torrent. More than once I
stopped to look back to the castle where she was. Caro, who was moodily
trotting after me, also stopped on these occasions and looked at me. I
told him that she loved me, that we were all going to be happy, that
all would turn out well, and that when I was a great man I would lead a
joyous life, and would take good care of him as long as he lived. Caro
gave me to understand, by a slight wag of his tail, that he was fully
satisfied of my good intentions, and even to a certain extent moved;
but his brown eyes looked very melancholy, as if on so dismal a day he
could not form a very clear picture of a joyous future. "You are a
stupid brute, Caro," I said; "a good, stupid brute; and you have no
notion of what has happened to me." Caro made a desperate attempt to
look at the matter from its brightest side, wagging his tail more
violently, and showing his white teeth; then suddenly, as if to show
that his well-trained mind, usually occupied with hunting matters
alone, felt this to be a day when all discipline was relaxed, ran,
furiously barking, at a man who was just approaching around a
plantation of willows on the left of the road.

It was a man who had partly the appearance of a sailor, and partly that
of a working-man of the town, and whose innocent broad face beamed with
so friendly a smile as he caught sight of me, that Caro became at once
conscious of the impropriety of his behavior, and came to heel ashamed,
with drooping ears, while I, who had recognized the traveller, hastened
towards him with extended hand.

"Why, Klaus, what in the name of wonder brings you here?"

"Yes, I thought I should surprise you," answered Klaus, giving me a
cordial grasp of his great hard hand, and showing, as Caro had before
done, two rows of teeth which rivalled the dog's in whiteness.

"Were you coming to see me?" I asked.

"Of course I was coming to see you," Klaus answered. "I arrived in the
cutter an hour ago. Christel is with me. Our old grandmother is dead;
we buried her yesterday morning. She has gone to a better place, I
hope. She was a good old woman, although she had grown very infirm of
late, and gave poor Christel a great deal of trouble. But that is all
over now. What I was going to say is this: my father has been so good
as to bring me over here himself, and Christel is with me too; she has
come with me to Zanowitz to take leave of Aunt Julchen [Julie],
father's sister, you know. My father is from Zanowitz, you know."

"To be sure," I said.

"You have been there once or twice yourself," Klaus went on. "Aunt
Julchen always saw you, but you never took notice of her. I suppose you
did not recollect her; she used often to come to my father's. And then
you have become such a great man now"--and the honest fellow's admiring
looks wandered over my hunting-dress, my high boots, and Caro, who
pretended not to hear a word of this conversation, and with pricked-up
ears was staring into the ditch as if he had never seen a water-rat
dart into its hole before in all the days of his life.

"Never mind about that, Klaus," I said, shifting the sling of my gun a
little higher on the shoulder. "So you are going away? And where are
you going, then?"

"I have got a place as locksmith in the machine-shops of the Herr
Commerzienrath at Berlin," said Klaus. "Herr Schultz, the engineer on
the _Penguin_, you know, has given me a first-rate recommendation, and
I hope to do no discredit to it."

"That I am sure you will not," I said in a cordial, friendly, but
rather patronizing tone, while I considered with some embarrassment
what I should do. Here was Klaus had come to see me, and I could not
keep him standing in the open road, under the dripping willow. How the
good fellow would have stared if I had taken him into my poetical
room!--but that was not possible now. My embarrassment was increasing,
and it was a great relief when Klaus, taking both my hands, said:

"And now, good-by; I must go back to Zanowitz. Karl Peters, who has
been loading corn for the Herr Commerzienrath, sails in half an hour,
and takes me with him. I would have liked to stay a little while with
you, but you have something else on hand, and so I will not keep you
any longer."

"I have nothing whatever on hand, Klaus," I answered, "and if you have
no objection I will go with you to Zanowitz, and take the opportunity
to say good-day to Christel. When is the wedding to be, Klaus?"

Klaus shook his head as we walked on together. "The prospect is but a
poor one," he said. "We are too young yet, the old man thinks, although
the proverb says: 'Early wooed was never rued.' Don't you think so?"

"Decidedly I do!" I cried, with an earnestness that extremely delighted
Klaus; "I am two years younger than you, I believe, but I can tell you
this: I would marry, if I could, upon the spot; but it all depends upon
the circumstances, Klaus, upon the circumstances."

"Yes, of course;" answered he, with a sigh; "I could very well support
her now, for I shall work upon a fixed contract, and can do well if I
please, and Christel would not sit with her hands in her lap; but what
good is all that if the old man will not consent? He is Christel's
guardian, and she owes him everything, even her life, for she would
have perished miserably on the beach, poor little creature, had father
not sent mother down to the strand to gather drift-wood, and had mother
not found her there and brought her home. And you see all this has to
be taken into account; and although he is not at all kind to her, and I
cannot tell why he has treated me so badly all these years, yet still
it is written: Honor thy father and thy mother. And as I have no mother
any more, I must honor my father doubly. Don't you think so?"

I did not answer him this time. In my coat-pocket lay the letter of my
father, in which he commanded me to leave Herr von Zehren at once and
return home. I had not obeyed his orders, because I could not leave
until Herr von Zehren's return; but now I could go--oh yes, I could go
now! I cast a glance back at the castle, which loomed darkly through
its dark masses of trees, over the heath, and sighed deeply.

Klaus crossed the wet road to my side, and said to me in a low
mysterious tone, although over the whole heath, as far as the eye could
reach, there was no human being in sight:

"I beg your pardon; I did not mean to hurt your feelings."

"That I am sure of, Klaus," I answered.

"For you see," he continued, "I know that you and your father are not
on good terms, but he is such an excellent man, that he certainly
wishes no harm to any human creature, and least of all to his own son;
and as for what people say about you, that you are leading so wild a
life here, and--and--I don't believe a word of it. I know you better.
Oh yes, you might be a little wild, of course, you always were that;
but wicked? God forbid! I would sooner believe them if they said I was
wicked myself."

"Do they say that of me?" I asked, contemptuously. "And who says so,
then?"

Klaus took off his cap, and rubbed his sleek hair.

"That is hard to say," he answered, with some hesitation. "If I must
tell you honestly, they all say so, my Christel of course excepted, who
is your fast friend; but the rest don't leave a good hair on your
head."

"Out with it," I said; "I don't care for it, so let us hear it all."

"Well, I can't tell you," answered Klaus.

It was some time before I could get it out of the good fellow. It was
quite terrible for him to be compelled to admit that in my native town,
where everybody knew everybody else, and took the greatest interest in
his fortunes, I was unanimously considered a castaway. The firemen on
board the _Penguin_ had spoken of it, and the old pensioned-off
captains leaning over the parapet of the pier, and meditatively chewing
their quids, talked the matter over. Wherever Klaus, whom all knew to
be a great friend of mine, came, everybody asked him if he had not
heard what had become of George Hartwig, how he was going about in the
very worst region of the whole island, and playing the buffoon for
noblemen with whom he was leading the most shameless life; that he
would lose more money in gambling in a single night, than his poor
father made in a whole year, and heaven only knew how he came by it.
But the worst of all was something which Klaus only mentioned after
again solemnly assuring me that he did not believe a word of it. He had
been the evening before to take leave of Justizrath Heckepfennig, who
was Christel's godfather, and at whose house he was a frequent visitor.
The family were just at tea. Elise Kohl, Emilie's dearest friend, was
there too, and they had done Klaus the honor to offer him a cup of tea,
after he had said that next day he was going to Zanowitz and meant to
look me up. The justizrath urgently dissuaded him from doing so, adding
that his long-fixed conviction that I would die in my shoes, had
recently received a confirmation, which, however, he was not free to
disclose. That then the girls had sat in judgment upon me, and decided
that they could forgive me everything else, but could never forgive me
for being the lover of Fräulein von Zehren. They had heard of it from
Arthur, who of course knew; and Arthur had told such things about his
cousin that a girl of any self-respect could hardly listen to them, and
which it was quite impossible to repeat.

Klaus was terrified at the effect which his account produced upon me.
In vain did he repeat that he did not believe a word of it, and had
told the girls so at the time. I vowed that I renounced now and forever
so faithless and treacherous a friend, and that I would sooner or later
be most bitterly avenged upon him. I gave vent to the most terrible
threats and maledictions. Never would I again, with my own consent, set
foot in my native town; I would rather cause an earthquake to swallow
it, if it stood in my power. Up to this time I had felt twinges of
conscience as to whether I had not acted too rashly in leaving my
father for so trifling a cause; but now should my father a hundred
times command me to return, I would not do it. And as for Herr von
Zehren and Fräulein von Zehren I valued a hair of either of their heads
more than the whole town of Uselin, and I was ready to die for both of
them here on the spot in these water-boots of mine, and the devil might
afterwards beat the boots about the justizrath's old mop of a head.

The good Klaus was stricken dumb with horror when he heard me utter
these frightful imprecations. It is quite probable that the idea struck
him that my soul was in a more perilous state than he had hitherto
supposed. He did not say this, however, but presently remarked, in his
simple way, that disobedience to a father was a very serious thing;
that I well knew how much he had always thought of me, in spite of all
that people said, and that he had always been disposed, and was still
disposed to agree with me in everything; but that here I was clearly in
the wrong; and that if my father had really ordered me to return home,
he could not see, for his part, what should prevent me from obeying
him; that he must confess to me that my disobedience to my father had
been troubling him ever since he heard of it, and that he could go away
with an easier mind, now that he had frankly told me this.

I made him no answer, and Klaus did not venture to continue a
conversation that had taken so unpleasant a turn. He walked silently by
my side, giving me a sorrowful look from time to time, like Caro, who
trotted with drooping ears by my other side; for the rain was falling
still more heavily, and my aimless wandering in such weather over the
wet dunes, was a mystery to Caro which grew darker the more he pondered
over it.

Thus we arrived at Zanowitz, where the poor mud-hovels were scattered
about over the undulating sandy dunes, as if they were playing
hide-and-seek. Between the dunes the open sea was visible. This had
always been a sight that I loved, when the sun shone brightly on the
white sand and the blue water, and the white gulls wheeled in joyous
circles over the calm sea. But now all was of a uniform gray, the sand,
and the sky, and the sea that came rolling in in heavy waves. Even the
gulls, sweeping with harsh cries over the stormy waters, seemed gray
like the rest. It was a dreary picture, the coloring of which
harmonized with the frame of mind in which my conversation with Klaus
had left me.

"I see Peters is getting ready to sail," said Klaus, pointing to one of
the larger vessels that were rocking at anchor a short distance from
the beach. "I think we had better go down; father and Christel will be
down there waiting for me."

So we went down to the strand, where they were about pushing off one of
the numerous smaller boats drawn up upon the sand. A crowd of persons
were standing by, and among them old Pinnow, Christel, and Klaus's Aunt
Julchen, a well-to-do fisherman's widow, whom I remembered very well.

Poor Klaus was scarcely allowed a minute to say good-by. Skipper
Peters, who had to deliver in Uselin the same day the corn he had
shipped for the commerzienrath's account, swore at the foolish waste of
time; Pinnow growled that the stupid dolt would never have common
sense; Christel kept her tearful eyes riveted on her Klaus, whom she
was to lose for so long a time; Aunt Julchen wiped the tears and the
rain from her good fat face with her apron; and the deaf and dumb
apprentice Jacob, who was among the rest, stared uninterruptedly at his
master as if he now saw his red nose and blue spectacles for the first
time. Klaus, looking very confused and very unhappy, said not a single
word, but taking in his left hand a bundle which Christel had given
him, he offered his right to each in turn, and then springing into the
boat, seized one of the two oars. A couple of fishermen waded out and
pushed the boat off; the oars were laid in the rowlocks, and the skiff
danced over the waves to the cutter, on which the mainsail was already
hoisted.

When I turned again, Christel had gone, and the fat aunt was just about
following her. The poor thing no doubt wished to shed her long pent-up
tears in quiet, and I thought that I should be doing her a kindness if
I detained her father awhile upon the beach. But Herr Pinnow was in no
haste to leave, as it seemed. With his blue spectacles over his eyes,
which I knew to be sharp as a hawk's, he gazed into the foaming waters,
and exchanged with the Zanowitz sailors and fishermen such remarks as
naturally fall from old sea-rats on the beach watching the departure of
a vessel.

These were in truth faces by no means adapted to inspire confidence,
these high-boned, lean, weather-beaten, sunburnt visages, with
light-blue blinking eyes, of the men of Zanowitz; but I had to say to
myself, as I stood by and observed them one by one, that the face of my
old friend was the most unprepossessing of all. The wicked, cruel
expression of his wide mouth, with thick close-shut lips, that even
when he spoke scarcely moved, had never so struck me before; perhaps I
saw him to-day with different eyes. For indeed, since yesterday
evening, the suspicion which had repeatedly entered my mind, that old
Pinnow was deeply implicated in Herr von Zehren's hazardous
undertakings, had been aroused anew. In fact I had come to an almost
positive conclusion that he would take an active part in the expedition
on hand; and I had been much surprised to hear Klaus say that his
father had ferried Christel and himself over. So, whatever his
connection with Herr von Zehren might be, he was not with him this
time, and that fact partially relieved my uneasiness.

The smith seemed not to have forgotten our quarrel on that evening. He
steadily pretended not to see me, or turned his broad back upon me
while he told the others what a quick passage he had made, and that he
would not have ventured out in such weather, and with his weak eyes
that grew weaker every day, had not Klaus been in such haste. And even
though it should blow less hard this evening, he would rather not take
back Christel with him; she could stay at his sister's, and in her
place he would take some active young fellow from here on board to help
him, for as for that stupid blockhead, Jacob, he could not be relied
on.

The tobacco-chewing men of Zanowitz listened to him and assented, or
said nothing, and did their part in thinking.

To remain on the beach with the wind driving the rain and spray into
one's face, was by no means comfortable, so I turned away from the
group and walked up the shore. I knew where Aunt Julchen's cottage
stood, and I thought I would look in and say a few friendly words to
Christel if I could. But as if he suspected my intention and was
determined to thwart it, old Pinnow, with a pair of fellows of much the
look of gallows-birds, came after me; so I gave up my design for the
time and went through the town, and ascended the dunes, intending to
cross the heath to Trantow.

I had just crossed the summit of the highest dune, which was called the
white one from the peculiar brilliancy of its sand, and from which one
commanded an extensive prospect up and down the shore, when I heard my
name called. I turned and perceived a female figure crouching in a
little hollow under the sharp ridge of the dune, upon the side that
looked away from the village and the sea, and beckoning eagerly to me.
To my no little surprise I recognized Christel, and at once hastened to
her. When I came up, she drew me into the hollow, and intimated to me
with gestures rather than words that I must sit still and keep the dog
quiet.

"What is all this for, Christel?" I asked.

"There is no time to be lost," she answered, "and I must tell you in
two minutes. At three o'clock this morning Herr von Zehren came to see
'him;' they thought I was asleep, but I was not, because I had been
crying about grandmother, and I heard everything. This evening a
Mecklenburg yacht laden with silk will arrive. Herr von Zehren has gone
by extra-post to R. to tell the captain, who is waiting for him there,
to set sail. He will return himself with him on the yacht. Then they
planned how to get the goods off the yacht; and 'he' offered, as the
coast was clear, to take them off himself with his boat. Always before,
the goods have been concealed in Zanowitz, and he took off such as were
intended for Uselin from Zehrendorf, later, as opportunity offered.
When Herr von Zehren objected that it might attract notice if he had
his boat out without any apparent reason, and in such bad weather, 'he'
said that Klaus had been wanting to go see his aunt before he went
away, so he would take him over, and carry me along too, that there
might be no possibility of suspicion. Then they called in Jock Swart,
who had been waiting in the forge, and told him to come over here at
once and have ready for to-night twelve of the surest men from
Zehrendorf and Zanowitz, to accompany him on board--as carriers you
know. Jock went, and after about a quarter of an hour Herr von Zehren
went too, and then after another quarter of an hour, Jock came back
again. I wondered at this, for Herr von Zehren had told him expressly
and several times over, not to lose a minute, but to set out at once;
but 'he' must have given him a sign, or had some previous understanding
with him. Then they put their heads together and talked so softly that
I could not make out what they said, but it must have been something
bad, for 'he' got up once or twice and came and listened at my door to
see if I was awake. Then he went away, but Jock stayed. About an hour
later, just as day was beginning to break, he came back with another
man--the customs-inspector Blanck. He had not his uniform on, but I
knew him at once, and would have known him anyhow by his voice. So now
the three whispered together, and after a little while went away. About
six 'he' came back alone, and knocked at my door, for I had been afraid
to come out, and asked if I was not going to get up to-day? Klaus would
soon be there, he said, and we were to come over here together, and I
was to bring some things with me, as very likely he would leave me here
with my aunt."

While Christel was telling me this, she looked cautiously from time to
time over the ridge of the dune to see if the coast was clear.

"I did not know what to do," she went on, "for I could not tell Klaus;
he is like a child, and knows nothing about it all, and must not know;
and I thank God he is away. I put it into his head to go and see you,
for I thought very likely you would come down with him, as you did, and
I wanted to tell you, if possible, to see if you could do anything.
Herr von Zehren has always been so good to me, and the last time he was
here said he would take care of Klaus and me, and that I need not be
afraid of 'him,' for 'he' knew very well, and he had moreover told
'him,' that if he did me any harm he would shoot him dead. And since
then 'he' has left me in peace; but he swears horribly at Herr von
Zehren, and vows that he will be even with him, and now his plan is to
bring him to the gallows."

She had begun to cry, but wiped away the tears with her hand, and went
on:

"I can do nothing more. See if you can do anything; and do not be
uneasy on my account, even if 'he' learns that it was my doing."

Her face suddenly flushed to a deep crimson; but the brave girl was
determined to say all that she had to say, and she added:

"I have been talking with my aunt, and my aunt will keep me with her,
and as she has a great number of friends here, he will not venture to
give her any trouble. And now I must go back; run quickly down the
dune; they cannot see you below there; and good-by!"

I pressed her hand and hurried down the high bare dune, which was
surrounded by a number of other lesser ones confusedly heaped together
and overgrown with beach-grass and broom, between which I was tolerably
safe from observation. Still I kept on in a crouching attitude, and did
not raise myself to an erect posture until I had gone a hundred paces
or so over the heath, where concealment was no longer possible. When I
looked back to the white dune, Christel was nowhere to be seen; she had
evidently seized a favorable moment to slip back unobserved into the
village.



                              CHAPTER XV.


Caro probably saw no reason, as I rather ran than walked along the
narrow path leading over the heath to Trantowitz, to be more satisfied
than before with his master's proceedings. I no longer spoke to him as
I had been doing. I had no eye for the unfortunate hares which he
routed out of their damp forms to relieve his extreme dullness of
spirits, nor for the flocks of gulls that had been driven inland by the
storm. I hurried on as if life and death depended upon my reaching
Trantowitz five minutes earlier or later; and yet it was but too
certain that Hans, when I had taken him into my confidence, would be as
much at a loss as myself. But Hans von Trantow was a good fellow, and a
devoted friend of Herr von Zehren, as I well knew. And then he loved
Constance; for Constance's sake, even if he had no other reason, he
must help me to save Constance's father, if any rescue was now
possible.

And so I tore along. Under my steps jets of water sprang from the
marshy soil into which I often sank to the ankles; the rain dashed into
my face, and the gulls screamed as they wheeled above my head.

From Zanowitz to Trantow was a half-hour's journey, but it seemed to me
an age before I reached the house, a bald and desolate-looking building
even in the sunshine, and now doubly forlorn and cheerless in the rain.
In front of the one-storied dwelling with its eight tall poplars, whose
slender summits were wildly swaying in the storm, stood Granow's
hunting-wagon and horses. That detestable fellow was there, then; but
no matter for that; I must speak with Hans von Trantow alone, if I had
first to pitch Herr von Granow out of the door.

Entering, I found the gentlemen at breakfast; a couple of empty bottles
on the table showed that they had been sitting there some time already.
Granow changed color at my entrance. It is probable that with my heated
and agitated face, my clothes saturated with rain, and my hunting-boots
covered with the sand of the dunes and the mud of the moor, I presented
a rather startling appearance, and the little man had not, in reference
to me, the clearest conscience in the world. Trantow, without rising at
my entrance, reached a chair and drew it up to the table, then gave me
his hand, and nodded his head towards the bottles and the dishes. His
good-natured face was already very red, and his great blue eyes rather
glassy; it was plain that the empty bottles were to be set chiefly to
his account.

"You have certainly not been out shooting in this horrible weather?"
asked Herr von Granow, with sudden friendliness, and politely placed
bread, butter, and ham before me, which, in spite of all my anxiety, I
attacked with energy, for I was nearly famished, and the hot air of the
room had given me a sensation of faintness.

"We have been sitting here these two hours," he went on, "and were just
deliberating how we should spend the day. I proposed cards, but Hans
will not play; he says he means to give it up. Gambling is a vice, he
says."

"So it is," muttered Hans.

"Only when he wins, you understand," said Granow, laughing at his own
wit. "He considers it vicious to take from other people the money which
they very likely need. He has no need of money himself; have you Hans?"

"Got no use for it," said Hans.

"There, you hear him yourself; he has got no use for it. He must marry,
that's the thing for him; then he will find out a use for his money. We
were just now talking about it."

Hans's red face took a somewhat deeper shade, and he cast a shy look at
me. It struck me that I had myself been one of the subjects of their
conversation.

"He will not find it so easy as you who have only to ask and have," I
said.

"I do not understand you," said the little man, with evident
embarrassment.

"I mean that this is what you told me yourself the day before
yesterday," I answered. "You even mentioned names; but it can't be
managed; it really can't, although Herr von Granow has considered the
matter from every side."

I uttered the last words in an ironical tone, turning to Hans as I
spoke. Hans, whose head was never particularly clear, could catch no
glimpse of my meaning at all; but Herr von Granow understood me
perfectly.

"A jest should not be taken more seriously than it is meant," he said,
pouring himself out a glass of wine with a hand that visibly shook.

"Or better, one should not venture to jest upon certain subjects at
all," I retorted, following his example.

"I am old enough not to need any admonitions from you," said the little
man, with a pitiful attempt to assume an intimidating tone.

"And yet you have not yet learned to bridle your tongue," I replied,
looking him steadily in the face.

"It seems you intend to insult me, young man," he cried, setting down
hastily the glass of which he had only tasted.

"Shall I make that fact clear to you by throwing this glass in your
face?"

"Gentlemen! gentlemen!" cried Hans.

"Enough!" exclaimed the little man, pushing back his chair and rising;
"I will bear these insults no longer. I will have satisfaction, if this
gentleman is entitled to be dealt with in that way."

"My father is a respectable officer in the customs," I answered; "my
grandfather was a minister, and so was my great-grandfather. Yours was
a shepherd, was he not?"

"We shall meet again," cried the little man, rushing out of the room,
banging the door after him. In another moment we heard his carriage
rattling over the pavement of the court.



                              CHAPTER XVI.


"Now, what is the meaning of all this?" asked Hans, who had never moved
from his chair during the whole scene.

I broke into loud laughter.

"It means," I replied, "that Herr von Granow is a blackguard who has
had the audacity to defame a lady whom we both respect, in a manner
which deserves far more serious treatment; but besides this, I wanted
to get him away--I must speak to you. You must help me--you must help
him----"

I did not know how to begin, and in my excitement I strode wildly up
and down the room.

"Drink off half a bottle at once," said Hans, meditatively; "that is a
specific for clearing the brain."

But without having recourse to this specific, I was presently calm
enough to tell him what it was that so agitated me. I related to him
everything from the beginning; my first suspicion of Herr von Zehren,
which had been completely lulled until Granow's loquacity had aroused
it again; then Herr von Zehren's half admission of the previous
evening, and the circumstances of his departure--keeping silent,
however, about the letter of the steuerrath, which was not my
secret--and then my exploration in the cellar this morning, and finally
Christel's disclosure. I wound up by saying: "Herr von Trantow, I do
not know what you think of his conduct, but I know that you have a
great regard for him, and that," I added, coloring, "you deeply respect
Constance, Fräulein von Zehren. Help me if you can. I am resolved to
risk everything rather than let him fall into the snare which clearly
has been set for him."

Von Trantow's cigar had gone out while I was speaking, nor had he made
the slightest attempt to re-kindle it--an evidence of the rapt
attention with which he was listening to my statement. As soon as I
paused, he stretched out his great hand to me over the table, and was
about to say something, but perceived that both our glasses were empty,
so replenished them instead, and leaning back in his chair, sank into
the profoundest meditation.

"I do not think it probable," I proceeded, warmed by his speechless
sympathy, "that they will capture him; for I am convinced that he will
defend himself to the last extremity."

Hans nodded, to intimate that he had not a doubt of it.

"But to think of their bringing him to trial, of their throwing him
into prison? Herr von Trantow, shall we suffer that, if we can prevent
it? Only yesterday he told me how one of his ancestors, also named
Malte, when a prisoner in Uselin, was rescued by the strong arm, and at
the sword's point, by one of yours, named Hans like yourself, upon a
message brought by a faithful squire. The whole story has come round
again. I am the faithful squire, and you and I will cut him out as they
did then."

"That we will!" cried Hans, smiting the table with his heavy fist so
that the bottles and glasses rang. "If they shut him up, we will blow
up the prison."

"We must never let it get to that point," I said, smiling
involuntarily, despite my anxiety at Hans's blind zeal. "We must warn
him beforehand; we must get to him before anything happens; we must
frustrate the whole plan founded upon Pinnow's and Jock's villainous
treachery. But how? How can it be done?"

"How can it be done?" echoed Hans, thoughtfully rubbing his head.

We--or rather I, for Hans contented himself with playing the attentive
listener, and incessantly replenishing my glass, with the view,
apparently, of assisting my invention--designed a hundred plans, of
which each was less practicable than the previous one, until I hit upon
the following scheme, which, like all the others, had the fullest and
promptest adhesion of the good Hans.

If their plan was to seize Herr von Zehren _flagrante delicto_, as
Christel's revelation indicated, it was most probable that, as was
their usual plan of operations in similar cases, they had laid an
ambush for him. This ambush could only be posted upon a road that he
must of necessity take, or upon one to which he was purposely enticed.
In the latter case we could form no conjectures of its disposition; but
in the former we might assume with tolerable assurance that the ambush
would be stationed in the neighborhood of the castle. In every event
our aim must be to reach him as soon as possible. But to effect this
but one plan was practicable; we must set out at once with Pinnow, and
as he was not likely to take us voluntarily as passengers, we must be
prepared to compel him to it. How this was precisely to be done, we
could leave to chance; the all-important thing was that we should be in
Zanowitz at the right time. Pinnow would certainly not sail before
night-fall, as the smuggler-yacht would unquestionably come in under
cover of the darkness, and then would approach as near the shore as
possible. When we were once on board, it would be time to think about
the rest.

We next took another point into consideration. That our scheme was not
to be accomplished without force, both Hans and I were thoroughly
aware. Nothing could be done with guns in the darkness, nor would
cutlasses or hunting-knives be sufficient against Pinnow and his men,
who all carried knives. We must trust to pistols.

Hans had a pair; but one pair was not sufficient. I remembered that
there was another pair hanging in Herr von Zehren's chamber, and these
we must get. I thought little of Constance's prohibition from entering
the house before her father's return; here were heavier interests at
stake; this was a matter of life and death. Indeed it was a question if
it would not be judicious to give Fräulein von Zehren a hint at least
of the state of affairs; but we concluded not to do so, as she could
not possibly help us, and would only be alarmed to no purpose. But we
thought it prudent to take into our counsel old Christian, who could be
relied upon in any case. We could arrange a pre-concerted signal with
him, a light in one of the gable windows, or something of that sort, by
which he could let us know at a distance, in case we got back
unmolested to Zehrendorf, whether the coast was clear about the castle.

By the time we had got so far with our deliberations, it I was two
o'clock, and we had until dusk at least three hours, which were to be
got through with with as much patience as we could muster--a hard task
for me, who was in a burning fever of impatience. Hans showed himself
the most amiable of hosts. He brought out his best cigars and his best
wine; he was more talkative than I had ever known him; the prospect of
an adventure of so serious a character as that which we had in view,
seemed to have had the good effect of arousing him out of his usual
apathy. He recounted the simple story of his life: how he had early
lost his parents, how he had been sent to a boarding-school at the
provincial capital, where he was prepared for the gymnasium, in which
he remained until his seventeenth year and rose to the fourth class.
Then he became a farmer; took his estate in hand as soon as he was of
age, and had been living upon it six years--he was now in his
thirtieth--quietly and placidly, using his weapons only against the
creatures of the forest and the field, raising his wheat, shearing his
sheep, smoking his cigars, drinking his wine, and playing his cards.
There was but one romantic feature in all his prosaic life, and that
was his love for Constance. It was in the year that he came to live
upon his estate, that she came back to her father; and to see
Constance, to love her, and to love her still more devotedly long after
he had been convinced of the hopelessness of his passion, to drown this
hopeless passion in wine, so far as was in his power--this was the poor
fellow's fate. He accepted it with perfect resignation, convinced that
he was not the man to make his own fortune, any more than he had been
able, when at school, to do his own exercises. Why and for whom should
he plague himself with work? He had all that he wanted in the present,
and there was no future for him to look forward to. He was the last of
his race, and had not even a kinsman in the world. When he died, his
estate, as a lapsed fief, reverted to the crown. The crown then might
see what was to be done with the ruined barns and stables and with the
dilapidated house. He let decay and weather work their will. He only
needed a room, and in this room we were now sitting, while Hans went on
with his recital in his monotonous way, and the rain beating against
the low windows kept up a melancholy accompaniment.

A conversation in which there was a continual reference to Constance,
even if her name was not actually mentioned, had a strangely painful
charm for me. Although Hans did not breathe a syllable of complaint
against the fair girl, it was plain from his story that she had at
first encouraged his bashful attentions, and only altered her behavior
to him after her meeting with Prince Prora at the watering-place two
years before. And Hans was evidently not the only one who had received
encouragement. Karl von Sylow, Fritz von Zarrentin--in a word, almost
every one of the young noblemen who formed Herr von Zehren's circle of
acquaintance, had earlier or later, with greater or less right, held
himself to be the favored one. Even Granow, although from the first he
was made the butt of his companions, might boast that he was favorably
looked upon by the young lady during the earlier months of his
residence; indeed Hans still considered Granow's chance by no means
desperate, for the little man was very rich, and she would only marry a
rich man, he added, with a deep sigh, as he filled his glass once more.

At Hans's last words I sprang from the table and threw open the window.
I felt as if I must suffocate, or as if the low ceiling with its bent
beams would fall in upon me.

"Is it still raining?" Hans asked.

"Not at this moment," I said. But one of those thick fogs of which
several had passed over in the course of the day, was drifting in from
the sea.

"Real smugglers' weather," said Hans. "The old man ought to be ashamed
of himself to drag his friends out on such a day. But that cannot be
helped. Shall we not drink another bottle? It will be cursedly cold
to-night."

I said I thought we had already drunk more than enough, and that it was
high time to start.

"Then I will get ready," said Hans, and went into his chamber, where I
for a long time heard him rummaging among his water-boots.

I had always considered myself pretty cool in moments of danger; but in
Hans I had met my master. While he was overhauling the things in his
room, I heard him through the half-open door whistling to himself as
cheerily as if we were going out to shoot hares, instead of an
adventure of life and death. To be sure, I said to myself, his is a
case of hopeless love, and Herr von Zehren is merely a friend,
neighbor, and equal, whom he feels it his duty to assist against the
hated police. That Hans, in combating for a cause that did not really
concern him, was doing much more, or at least acting far more
disinterestedly than I, did not occur to me.

And now he came out of his room, if not the wildest of all wild
warriors, yet in appearance one who would be very appropriately
selected for an adventure that demanded a strong and bold man. His long
legs were incased in immense boots; over a close-fitting jacket of silk
he had put on a loose woollen overcoat, which he probably wore when
hunting in winter, and which could be drawn close with a belt or
allowed to hang loose, as at present, he having buckled the belt under
it around the jacket, and thrust his pistols into the belt. With a
jolly laugh he displayed his equipment and asked me if I would not have
an overcoat also, as he had another; an offer which I gladly accepted.

"We look like two brothers," said Hans; and in fact we might easily
have been mistaken for brothers, as we both had the same stature and
breadth of shoulders, and were dressed almost precisely alike.

"If there are not too many of them," said Hans, "we can easily manage
them."

"A half-dozen to each of us, or so," I said, and laughed; but I was
very far from a mirthful feeling as we closed the door after us, and
Caro, whom we had left behind, broke out into a dismal howling and
whining. Poor Caro, he was in the right that morning when he reminded
me with his woebegone looks that we should never praise the day until
the evening.



                             CHAPTER XVII.


It was four o'clock when we set out, and already it was growing dusk as
we took the foot-path through the stubble-field to Zehrendorf. No clear
judgment of the weather was to be drawn from the appearance of the sky
and clouds, as the whole atmosphere was filled with watery mist,
through which every object took a singularly strange and unnatural
appearance. We pushed on rapidly, sometimes side by side and sometimes
in single file, for the path was narrow and very slippery from the
incessant rains. We were just deliberating what we should say to
Constance, in case we should unfortunately meet her, when we saw upon
the road bordered with willows, which was but a few hundred paces
distant from the foot-path, a carriage drawn by two horses coming from
the castle in such haste that in less than half a minute it had
vanished in the mist, and we could only hear the trampling of the
galloping horses and the rattling of the carriage over the broken
causeway. Hans and I looked at each other in astonishment.

"Who can that be?" he asked.

"It is the steuerrath," I answered.

"What can bring him here?" he asked again.

I did not answer. I could not tell Hans of the letter that proved the
direct or indirect complicity of the steuerrath, nor explain how likely
it was that he would attempt to warn his brother that the affair had
taken a wrong turn. What information could he have brought? Might it
still be of service to the unfortunate man whose movements were dogged
by treachery?

"Let us hasten all we can," I cried, pressing on without waiting for
Hans's answer, and Hans, who was a capital runner, followed closely
upon my heels.

In a few minutes we had reached the gate which opened on this side into
the court. At the gate was a stone-bench for the accommodation of
persons waiting until the gate was opened, and upon this bench sat or
rather lay old Christian, with blood trickling down his wrinkled face
from a fresh wound in the forehead. As we came up he seemed to be
recovering from a partial swoon, and stared at us with a confused look.
We raised him up, and Hans caught some water in his hollow hand from a
neighboring rain-spout and sprinkled it in his face. The wound was not
deep, and seemed to have been inflicted with some blunt instrument.

"What has happened, Christian?" I had already asked half-a-dozen times,
before the old man had recovered his senses sufficiently to answer
feebly:

"What has happened? She is off; and he struck me over the head with the
butt of his whip as I was trying to shut the gate."

I had heard enough. Like some furious animal I rushed to the house. The
doors were all standing open: the front door, that of the dining-room,
and that of Herr von Zehren's chamber. I ran in, as I heard hammering
and rattling inside. Old Pahlen was kneeling before Herr von Zehren's
escritoire, scolding furiously to herself while trying her best, with a
hatchet and crowbar, to force the lock. She had not heard me enter.
With one jerk I dragged her to her feet; and she started back and
glared at me with looks flaming with impotent rage. Her gray hair hung
in elf-locks from under her dirty cap, and in her right hand she still
clutched the hatchet. The horrible old woman, whose vile nature was now
openly shown, was a hideous object to behold; but I was not in a frame
of mind to be checked by any sight, however repulsive.

"Where has she gone?" I thundered at her. "You must know, for you
helped her off."

"Ay, that I did," screamed the old hag, "that I did; and may Satan
fetch my soul for doing it! The thankless, worthless creature promised
to take me with her, and now leaves me here with shame and abuse in
this robber's den; but she'll live yet to come to it herself when he
flings her out into the street, the----"

"Another word, woman, and I strike you to the floor," I cried, raising
my fist threateningly.

The old woman burst into a screech of laughter. "Now _he_ begins!" she
cried. "And didn't they make a fine fool of him, the stupid blockhead!
Thought he was the man, to be sure, while the other one was with her
every night. Lets himself be sent out of the way, for the other to come
in his coach and carry off the pretty lady." And the old wretch burst
again into a screech of horrible laughter.

"Be that as it may," I said, struggling to keep down the rage and
anguish that were tearing my heart, "you have been rightly served, at
all events; and if you do not want me to have you hounded off the place
for a thief, as you are, you had better take yourself off at once."

"Oh, indeed!" screamed the hag, planting her arms a-kimbo, "he carries
matters here with a high hand, to be sure! I a thief, indeed! I only
want my money. I have had for this half-year no wages from the whole
beggarly lot, the smuggling gang!"

She had received from me, during the two months of my stay at
Zehrendorf, more than her whole year's service could amount to; and I
had myself seen Herr von Zehren pay her wages but a few days before,
and add a handsome present besides.

"Begone!" I said. "Leave the place this instant!"

The old woman caught up the hatchet, but she well knew that she could
not intimidate me. So she retreated before me out of the room, and out
of the house, screaming out all the time the vilest abuse and the most
furious threats against Herr von Zehren, Constance, and myself. I
closed the great gate after her with my own hands, and then looked for
Hans, who was just coming out of the lodge, into which he had been
taking old Christian.

Hans was deathly pale, and did not look at me as he came to my side. He
had heard enough from old Christian to make it unnecessary for him to
seek from me any further particulars of Constance's abduction; and he
probably did not care to let me see how hard the blow had struck him,
which hurled into the mire the image of his idolatry, and so cruelly
destroyed his solitary illusion, the last glimmer of poetry in his
cheerless life. I seized his hand and wrung it hard.

"What now?" I asked.

"Suppose I ride after him and knock out his brains," said Hans.

"Excellent!" I replied, with a forced laugh; "if he had carried her off
by force; but as it seems she went with him quite willingly--come on;
the thing is not worth thinking over a moment longer."

"You have not loved her for six years," said poor Hans.

"Then saddle Herr von Zehren's bay and ride after him," I said; "but we
must come to a decision at once."

Hans stood irresolute. "By heavens, I should like to help you," he
said.

"Ride after the rascal and punish him, if you want to," I cried, "I am
perfectly satisfied. But whatever is to be done must be done at once."

"Then I will!" said Hans, and went with long strides to the stable,
where he knew Herr von Zehren's horse stood, a powerful hunter, but now
past his prime, and much neglected of late since Herr von Zehren had
given up riding.

There was on the place a half-grown youth who did odd jobs, and was
much cuffed about by the others. He came up now and said that Jock had
been there an hour before and taken with him Karl, who was cutting
straw in the barn-loft, and Hanne, who was sitting in the lodge, and so
he was left to do Karl's work. Of what else befell, he in his dark loft
had seen and heard nothing.

To entrust to this simple, scarcely more than half-witted youth the
part which Christian should have taken in our plan would have been
folly; but as he was an honest fellow, we could trust him to take care
of the old man and keep guard over the house. I ordered him to go the
rounds from time to time with the dog, whom I unchained, and under no
pretext whatever to let in the old hag whom I had driven off the place,
and from whom I expected mischief. Fritz promised to observe my orders
faithfully. Then I hastily caught down Herr von Zehren's pistols, which
were hanging, loaded, against the wall.

When I came out into the court again, I saw Hans just galloping out of
the gate. A wild jealousy seized me. Why could I not be at his side?
The composure, the indifference, which I had just exhibited--all was
mere sham; I had but a single desire, to revenge myself on him and on
her; but I must leave it to Hans; he had loved her for six years!

Thus I raged in spirit as I hastened at a rapid rate through the fields
and meadows, and finally across the heath to Zanowitz. Strive as I
might to fix my thoughts upon the immediate exigency, they perpetually
reverted to what had just taken place. A weight as of a mountain lay
upon my heart. I remember more than once I stood still and shrieked
aloud to the gray, cloudy sky. When I reached the dunes, however, the
necessity of devising some definite plan of operations brought me back
to my senses.

The weather had somewhat cleared up in the meantime, and the wind had
hauled; the rain had ceased, and the fog had lifted; there was more
light than an hour before, although the sun had set by this time.
Looking down from the height of the dunes upon Zanowitz I saw the dark
sea, where the waves were still tumbling, though not so heavily as in
the morning, cutting with a sharp horizontal line against the bright
sky. I could still distinguish, though with difficulty, the larger
vessel in the roadstead, but could clearly make out the row of boats
drawn up to the beach, as well as a little yawl that came rowing
towards a group of men assembled on the strand. If these were the last
of Pinnow's party I had not a minute to spare.

It was also possible that this group of dark figures might be
functionaries of the custom-house; but I was satisfied that the
probability of this being the case, was but small. Zanowitz was crowded
with smugglers, and Pinnow could hardly venture upon open treachery.
Not that any attempt would have been made to resist by violence an
expedition of the officials conducted by him; but from the moment in
which he appeared in that capacity, he would be marked out for
vengeance, and his life would not be worth an hour's purchase. However
the treachery might have been concocted, the traitors had assuredly
taken care to conceal their own share in it from all other eyes.

But I had no time for much consideration on these points; and indeed
did not pause to reflect, but ran down the dunes. As I neared the group
a man came out from it and advanced to meet me. He had turned up the
wide collar of his pea-jacket, and pulled the brim of his sou'-wester
as far as possible over his face, but I recognized him at once.

"Good evening, Pinnow," I said.

He made no reply.

"I am glad to have met you," I went on; "I heard this morning that it
was possible you might sail for Uselin this evening, and I wanted to
ask you to take me along with you."

He still gave no answer.

"You will have to take me, whether you like it or not," I proceeded. "I
have made every preparation for the trip. Look here," and I threw back
my overcoat and drew one of my pistols half out of my belt, "they are
both loaded."

He still kept silent.

"Shall I try them on you to see if they are loaded or not?" I asked,
drawing one from my belt and cocking it.

"Come on," said Pinnow.

I lowered the hammer of the pistol, replaced it in my belt, and then
walked on Pinnow's right, keeping a little behind him. Presently I
said:

"Do not expect to find any protection among the men down there. I will
keep close to your side, and upon the first word you let fall, tending
to raise them against me, you are a dead man. How many have you already
on board?"

"Ten men," muttered Pinnow. "But I do not know what you want with me;
go with us or stay behind as you please; what the devil do you suppose
I care?"

"We shall see," I answered, drily.

We now joined the group, which consisted of my long friend Jock, the
men Karl and Hanne, and the deaf and dumb Jacob who had rowed the yawl
over.

"He is going with us," said Pinnow, laconically, to his men, as he lent
a hand himself to push off the yawl.

I thought that I perceived a look of alarmed surprise pass over the
brutal features of Jock at seeing us. He looked at his accomplice for
an explanation of the mystery, but Pinnow was busy with the yawl. The
two others were standing apart; they evidently did not know what to
make of it all.

"There are only four wanted," said Pinnow.

"Very good," I said. "You, Karl and Hanne, go home and keep perfectly
quiet, do you hear?"

"I can go home too," said Jock, surlily.

"One step from the spot," I cried, levelling the pistol at his head,
"and you have stood on your long legs for the last time. Get on board!"

Jock Swart obeyed.

"You next, Pinnow!"

Pinnow obeyed. I followed.

We had about twenty minutes rowing before we reached the cutter, for
the surf was heavy, and the cutter was anchored pretty far out on
account of her deep draught. This frustrated a plan which occurred to
me at the last moment, namely, to put the whole party on shore, and go
out to the yacht with Pinnow and Jock alone. But I saw that in the
rowing back and forwards that would be necessary, at least an hour
would be lost, and it was all-important to have speech of Herr von
Zehren as speedily as possible. What might not happen in an hour?

We reached the cutter that was dancing at her anchor upon the waves,
like an impatient horse tugging at his halter. We pulled alongside, and
I sprang on board among the dark figures.

"Good evening, men," I said. "I am going along with you. Some of you
know me, and know that I am a good friend of Herr von Zehren; and
besides, Pinnow and Jock Swart will answer for me."

The two that I named accepted the sponsorship by their silence; but I
believe that it was unnecessary. I had often been with Herr von Zehren
in Zanowitz--indeed we had been there but the day before--and had
probably occasionally spoken with every one of the men. They all knew
my intimate association with him, and could see nothing remarkable that
I should take part in an expedition made for the account of one who
was to a certain extent my patron as he was theirs. No one answered
me--these people were not in the habit of wasting speech--but they
willingly received me among them. My impression that Pinnow and Jock
Swart were the only traitors, was confirmed. So in every sense he was
now in my power. If I told the men what I knew, the two accomplices
would probably have flown overboard; for the Zanowitz men were not to
be trifled with in these matters.

I said as much to Pinnow as I took my place beside him at the helm.

"Do what you please," he muttered, putting a quid of tobacco into his
wide mouth.

Although Christel's information was so positive, a doubt came over me
as I marked the imperturbable calmness of the man who knew that his
life was every moment at risk. Had Christel's hearing deceived her in
her excitement? Had the good Hans and I unnecessarily mixed ourselves
up with this lawless crew, who were plying, in darkness and mist, their
perilous trade?

By this time the cutter, a capital sailer, was flying through the
waves. The sky had grown much clearer; there was still light enough to
see pretty plainly at two or three hundred yards distance. But it was
bitter cold, and the surf that dashed, often in heavy masses, over the
deck, by no means added to the comfort of the situation. The small
craft was crowded with the fourteen men that were on board. Wherever
one looked, there lay or crouched a dark figure. Pinnow sat at the
helm. As I kept my post at his side, and had thus an opportunity
to watch him closely, I grew more dubious with every minute whether
there was not some mistake in the whole affair. There sat the
broad-shouldered man, moving not a muscle of his face, except when from
time to time he slowly turned his quid from one cheek into the other,
or fixed his sharp eyes upon the sails, or turned them out to sea. When
we tacked, a man[oe]uvre which was performed almost every minute, and
he called "Luff!" for us to stoop and let the boom pass over our heads,
his voice rang always firm and clear. Was it possible that a traitor
could have so sure a hand, so sharp an eye, and could chew his tobacco
with such equanimity?

"How far do you think we shall have to go before we find the yacht?" I
asked.

"We may come up with her at any moment," Pinnow growled; "and very
likely we may see nothing at all of her."

"How so?"

"If they should have caught sight of one of the coastguard boats, they
would stand out to sea again."

"How long will you look for her?"

"One hour; so it was arranged."

"Between you and Herr von Zehren, or between you and Inspector Blanck?"

Pinnow squirted his tobacco-juice overboard and growled:

"For the last time I tell you that I do not know what you want. The
foolish wench Christel, I suppose, has made you believe that I am
playing false; but she is more likely to have done it herself. I should
be sorry if she gave up her old foster-father in order to get rid of
him; but what will such a wench not do?"

These words, that the smith grumbled out in his surly way, made a
strong impression upon me. Had I not but an hour before had proof
what a girl would do to carry out her will? And Pinnow was only her
foster-father. Could she have invented a plausible tale to set Herr von
Zehren and myself against the old man? Could she have herself
perpetrated the treachery that she ascribed to him, and have given the
information to the officers, in order in this way to be rid of one whom
she had good reason for wishing out of the way? And had her conscience
smitten her at the last moment, when she reflected that his ruin would
involve that of Herr von Zehren, to whom she owed a debt of gratitude?
Was her story to me but an attempt to save him through my means?

I admit that a minute's calm reflection would have sufficed to convince
me of the extreme improbability of this idea; but how could I calmly
reflect in the situation and in the frame of mind in which I then was?

A wild merriment seized me, and I laughed aloud. Was it not a thing to
laugh at, that of us two conspirators, Hans was galloping after the
pretty pair over the wretched road through mist and drizzle, without
the shadow of a reasonable ground for such a race; and was it not just
as ridiculous, that I, who with such extravagant zeal and blindness,
had been running from the morning until now, through storm and rain,
tortured by countless anxieties, was a mere puppet, moved by a string
whose end was held by two girls' hands, the one of which I, in my
gratitude, had passionately kissed, and the other at least pressed
cordially. Truly it would have been better if we had both stayed by our
bottle in the warm room.

"Look there!" said Pinnow, touching my shoulder, while at the same
moment he gave the word, "Luff!" in a peculiar, long-drawn, suppressed
tone.

I perceived at but a few hundred yards distance a trimly-rigged
schooner of moderate size, and I recognized at a glance one of the
vessels of the coast-guard, named the Lightning. I had too often been
on board her, and had sketched her too often under every possible
arrangement of sails, to be deceived in her.

"That is the _Lightning_," I exclaimed.

At the same moment that the cutter went about, the _Lightning_ also
altered her course and bore down on us.

"Boat ahoy!" came through a speaking trumpet over the dash of the
waves.

My heart seemed to stop beating; my hand lay on the butt of my pistol.
If Pinnow laid the cutter to, his treachery was proven.

"Boat ahoy!" came over the water again.

"Haul aft the foresail!" ordered Pinnow.

I breathed again. Pinnow's order was equivalent to _sauve qui peut_.

"Boat ahoy!" came their hail for the third time, and almost in the same
moment there was a flash on board the _Lightning_, and the report of a
musket, deadened by the distance and the plashing of the waves, reached
my ear.

"Shake out that reef in the jib!" ordered Pinnow.

I took my hand from the pistol. There was now no doubt that Pinnow was
doing his utmost to escape the pursuing vessel. My heart leaped with
joy; the man at my side, of whom I had once been so fond, though he had
never deserved my affection, was at all events no traitor. What would I
have done if I had known that this was all a carefully arranged plan,
in carrying out which the cold-blooded old villain was not in the least
disturbed by my clumsy interference; that this meeting with the
schooner was preconcerted in order to lead the latter upon the right
track? That the flight and pursuit were merely feigned, to conceal the
treachery from the other smugglers, and that the three or four blank
cartridges that were fired from the schooner had the same object? What
would I have done if I had known all this? Well for me that I did not
know it; at least no blood of a fellow-creature cleaves to my hand.



                             CHAPTER XVII.


The cutter now flew gallantly along under a press of canvass that laid
her lee-bulwarks nearly under water, while the _Lightning_ fell astern,
and in brief time was lost to our sight.

A sort of life had come into the silent and almost motionless crew of
the cutter. They raised their heads and exchanged remarks upon the
incident, which to them was nothing so unusual. Every one of these men
had at some time or other been brought into dangerous contact with the
revenue service. The liberty, and possibly the life of every man there
had at some time or other hung by a single thread. So no one exhibited
any special excitement, but Smith Pinnow least of all. He sat at the
helm just as before, casting keen glances at the sails and into the
dusk, chewing his tobacco, and otherwise not moving a muscle. He did
not say a word to me, as if it was not worth the while of an old sea
dog to speak to so young a fellow about things which he did not
understand. I felt a dryness in my throat that compelled me to cough
once or twice, and I buttoned my overcoat closer over my pistols.

And now another vessel loomed through the dusk, and this time it was
the long-looked-for yacht, a tolerably large craft, with but a single
sail, but a full deck. In a few minutes we were alongside of her, and
immediately the bales of goods, which were all in readiness, were
lowered from the deck of the yacht, and taken on board by the crew of
the cutter, who were now alert enough in their movements. The whole
went on with extraordinary silence; hardly now and then could be heard
a suppressed exclamation, or an order uttered half aloud in the gruff
voice of the captain of the yacht.

I was one of the first to board the yacht, but I looked around in vain
for Herr von Zehren. I was already congratulating myself that he was
not on board, when he suddenly emerged from the hatchway that led to
the cabin. His first glance fell upon me, and he came towards me with
an unsteady gait, caused, as I supposed, by the motion of the vessel.

"And what in the devil's name has brought you here?" he cried with a
hoarse voice; but I had no time to give him any explanation. The cutter
had now all her lading on board, and the captain of the yacht coming
up, said, "Now, be off with you!" He had just learned that a revenue
schooner was about, and had no desire to risk his vessel and the rest
of his cargo. "Be off!" he repeated, in a rough tone.

"To-morrow evening, then, at the same time," said Herr von Zehren.

"We'll see about it," said the captain, and sprang to the helm, for the
yacht, which had already weighed her anchor, and whose mainsail was now
half-mast high, began to come round to the wind.

A scene of confusion followed. The yacht's man[oe]uvre had been
performed without any consideration for the cutter alongside, and came
very near sinking our little craft. There was a burst of oaths on both
sides, a tremendous grinding and cracking, a perilous leap from the
deck of the yacht to that of the cutter, and we pushed off, while the
yacht, which had already caught the wind, went on her course with full
sails.

All this had taken place so rapidly, and, besides, the bustle and
confusion of such a number of men on so small a craft, as they set the
sails and stowed the cargo in the fore-hold, were so great, that some
time passed ere I could get to Herr von Zehren's side.

He was still swearing at the villain of a captain, the coward who was
running from a miserable revenue-schooner that he could run down and
sink in five minutes. Catching sight of me he asked again, "What has
brought you here?"

I was somewhat embarrassed how to answer this question. My suspicion of
Pinnow had entirely vanished, and Pinnow sat close beside us at the
helm and heard the question put in a loud tone. I contented myself with
saying:

"I was afraid some misfortune might happen to you, and wanted to be
with you!"

"Misfortune!" he cried. "Stupidity, cowardice, that is the only
misfortune! The devil take the stupid poltroons!"

He sat down by Pinnow and talked with him in an undertone. Then turning
to me, he said:

"You sent two of the men home; you should not have interfered with
them. I need their services; every back is now worth a thousand
_thalers_ to me. Or did you propose to carry a pack yourself?"

He said this in an irritated tone that roused my indignation. If I had
acted injudiciously, I had done all for the best; and to be rebuked for
my faithful service in the presence of Pinnow, it was too much. I had a
sharp answer at my tongue's end, but I gulped down my anger and went
forward.

He did not call me back; he did not come after me to say a friendly
word as he had always before done, whenever in his hastiness he had
wounded my feelings. Presently I heard him rating two of the men in a
shrill voice, for what, I could not understand; but this shrill tone
which I had never before heard from him, told me at once that what I
had feared was the truth; he was intoxicated.

A horrible feeling of disgust and wretchedness came over me. For the
sake of this man, who was gesticulating there like a maniac, I had done
what I had; for his sake I was here among this abandoned crew as
accomplice of a crime which from boyhood had always seemed to me one of
the most detestable; for his sake I had well-nigh become a murderer.
And even now I had in my pocket my father's letter, in which the old
man had given me such a solemn warning, and commanded me, if I had any
regard for his peace, to return to him immediately.

I felt for the letter, and my hand came in contact with the pistols in
my belt. I felt a strange impulse, here upon the spot, in the midst of
the smuggler-gang, and before the eyes of their drunken leader, to blow
out my brains. At this moment I thought of the good Hans who was
risking himself for a cause that was not a whit better. And yet he may
thank heaven, I said to myself, that he is not on this expedition.

"Boat ahoy!" suddenly rang over the water as before, and the
_Lightning_ again loomed out of the dusk, and a couple of shots were
fired.

This was the signal for a chase which lasted probably an hour, during
which the cutter, while seeming to make every effort, by countless
dexterous and daring evolutions, to escape her pursuer, drew ever
nearer and nearer to that part of the coast which had been agreed upon
between Pinnow and the officers, about half a mile above Zanowitz,
where the depth of the water would allow her to run almost immediately
upon the beach. From here one could proceed to Zehrendorf by a
wagon-road which ran along the strand to Zanowitz, and from there over
the heath; or one could go directly across the heath; but in the latter
case there was a large and very dangerous morass to be crossed, which
could only be done by secret paths known to the smugglers alone. It was
ten to one that Herr von Zehren would choose the way over the moor
instead of that along the coast, from the spot to which the cutter had
apparently been driven.

While the chase lasted, I did not move from the spot in which I was,
fully determined to take no active part in the affair, happen what
might. Herr von Zehren made my passive part an easy one; often as he
came near me, he never once took any notice of me. During this hour of
excitement his intoxication seemed to have increased; his behavior was
that of a raging madman. He shrieked to Pinnow to run the schooner
down; he returned the fire of the officers with one of Pinnow's old
guns, which he had found in the cabin, although the _Lightning_
prudently kept at a distance which would have been too great for even a
rifle of long range; and as the cutter, after a long tack out to sea,
on which she distanced the schooner, stood in again and reached the
shore unmolested, he leaped out into the shallow water, and his men had
all to follow him, after each had been loaded with one of the heavy
packs which were made up for this purpose. There were eleven carriers
in all, as Pinnow offered the services of the boatmen he had brought
from Zanowitz, saying that he could get along with the deaf and dumb
Jacob alone; and thus the place of one of the two men whom I had sent
home was filled. But there still remained a twelfth pack, which lay
upon the deck, and would have been left, as there was no one to carry
it, had I not managed to get it on my shoulders by laying it on the
gunwale of the boat, and then springing into the surf, which reached to
my knees. I was resolved that if I parted from Herr von Zehren that
night, he should not be able to say that I had caused him the loss of a
twelfth part of his property, won with so much toil and care, with the
risk of the liberty, and lives of so many men, and at the price of his
own honor.

A boisterous laugh resounded behind me as I left the cutter. It came
from Pinnow; he knew what he was laughing about. The cutter, lightened
of her lading, was now afloat, and as I gained the beach and turned,
she was slowly standing out to sea. He had done his shameful work.

At this moment it flashed upon me, "He is a traitor, after all!" I do
not know whether it was his laugh of malicious triumph that again
aroused my suspicion, or what suggested the thought, but I said to
myself, as I closed the file which was headed by Herr von Zehren and
Jock Swart, "Now it will soon be decided."



                             CHAPTER XVIII.


We had passed the dunes, and were marching in single file across the
sandy waste land on the other side. No word was spoken; each man had
enough to do in carrying his heavy pack; I perhaps the most of all,
although none of the men, unless it might be Jock Swart, equalled me in
strength; but in such things practice is everything. And then in
addition to my pack, which probably weighed a hundred-weight, I bore
another burden from which the others were free, and which pressed me
far more heavily--the burden of shame that my father's son was bending
under this bale of silk, of which the revenue was defrauded, because I
would not cause a loss of property to the man whose bread I had been
eating for two months. And then I thought with what happiness my heart
beat high when I left Zehrendorf in the morning, and that I was now
returning deceived by the daughter, insulted by the father,
contaminated by the defilement of the base traffic to which I had lent
myself, and that this was the end of my visionary splendors, of my
adored liberty! But the end had not yet come.

Without a moment's rest we kept on, the wet sand crunching under our
feet, when of a sudden a word was given at the head of the file and
passed on in an under-tone from man to man until it came to me, who
being the last could pass it no further--"Halt!"

We had reached the edge of the moor. It could be entered on this side
only by a narrow strip which was passable; then came a stretch of dry
land, a sort of island, surrounded by the morass on every side, which
closed in again at its opposite extremity, perhaps two thousand paces
distant, and there was again only a narrow path which a heavily laden
man could pass without sinking into the morass. After this came the
heath, which extended from the lands of Trantowitz and Zehrendorf on
one side to the dunes of Zanowitz on the other, and which I had already
crossed three times to-day.

The place where we halted was the same where I had stood with Granow
three evenings before. I recognized it by two willows which grew
on the edge of the hollow from which I had first seen the band of
night-prowlers emerge. This hollow lay now a little to our left, at
perhaps fifty paces distance; and I could not have distinguished the
willows in the increased darkness, but for the extraordinary keenness
of my sight. On account of this darkness the men had to close up in
order not to deviate from the narrow path, and this was the reason that
a momentary halt had been ordered.

But it was only for a moment, and again we struck into the moor upon
the narrow causeway: to the right and left among the rushes gleamed a
pale phosphorescent light from the stagnant water which lay around in
great pools, and the ground on which we were treading oscillated in a
singular manner, as we crossed it in a sort of trot.

The path had been safely passed, and the men were marching more slowly,
when my ear caught a clicking sound like the cocking of a gun. The
sound was behind me; that I had plainly heard; and I knew besides that
none of our party was armed. I stopped to listen, and again I heard the
same sound; and presently I distinguished upon the spot where we had
just passed, a figure emerge between the tall rushes, followed
immediately by a second and a third. Without thinking to throw the
heavy pack from my shoulders, and indeed without being conscious of it,
I ran to the head of the file and touched Herr von Zehren, who with
Jock Swart was leading the march, upon the shoulder.

"We are pursued!"

"Nonsense!" said Herr von Zehren.

"Halt!" cried a powerful voice behind us.

"Forward!" commanded our leader.

"Halt! halt!" it was repeated, and half-a-dozen shots were fired in
quick succession, the bullets whistling over our heads.

In an instant our whole party was scattered, as is the custom of
contrabandists when they are hotly pressed, and, as in the present
instance, they are not prepared, or not disposed to offer resistance.
On all sides, except in the direction of our pursuers, I saw the men,
who had at once cast off their packs, stealthily slipping away, some
even creeping off on all-fours. In the next moment Herr von Zehren and
I were alone.

Behind us we heard the ring of iron ramrods in the barrels. They were
re-loading the muskets that had been fired. This gave a brief pause.

Herr von Zehren and I were standing together. "How many are there?" he
asked in a whisper.

"I cannot make out," I answered, in a similar tone; "I think more are
coming up. There can hardly be less than a dozen."

"They will not advance any further in the darkness," he said.

"They are coming now," I urged.

"Halt! Who goes there!" came again from the pursuing party, who were
not more than a hundred paces off, as well as could be judged in the
darkness, and again a bullet or two whistled above our heads.

"I entreat you!" I said, taking his arm to urge him forward.

He let me fairly drag him a few steps. Then suddenly he seemed to awake
as from a dream, and with his old voice and old manner said to me:

"How the devil did you come by this? Off with it!" and he flung down
violently the pack from my shoulders.

"I have carried it the whole way," I murmured.

"Shameful!" he muttered; "shameful! But it all comes from---- My poor
boy! my poor boy!"

The effect of the spirits he had drunk, to deaden as far as possible
his feelings of shame, had entirely passed away. He was again all that
he could be at his best moments, and at once my old love for him
returned. My heart began to throb with emotion. I was again ready to
give my life for him.

"Let us make haste," I said, seizing his cold hand. "It is high time,
by heaven!"

"They will not venture any further up here," he replied, "even if they
have a guide. One man cannot guide them all. But there is treachery at
work. Did you not say something of the sort to me?"

"Yes; and the traitors are Pinnow and Jock Swart."

"Jock was the very one that advised this route."

"Exactly."

"And the villain was the first one to make off."

"He was in haste to join his new friends."

We thus spoke in short detached sentences, while we hurried almost at a
run over the open space, where the darkness, which was now intense,
offered the only security--but an ample one, it is true--against
pursuit. A light rain began to fall; we literally could hardly see our
hands before our faces. Nothing was to be seen or heard of our
pursuers.

"The blundering dolts came too late," said Herr von Zehren; "they
clearly planned to catch us on the narrow path. If our rascals had not
run off, we might now go on comfortably."

"We cannot go back to Zehrendorf," I said.

"Why not?"

"If Jock Swart has betrayed us, as I would take my oath he has, they
will certainly search Zehrendorf."

"Let them try it once," cried the Wild Zehren; "I will send them home
with broken heads. No, no; they will not venture that, or they would
have tried it long ago. At Zehrendorf we are as safe as in Abraham's
bosom."

Just as he said these words there was a sudden gleam of light in the
distance ahead of us, like a faint flash of lightning. Before I could
frame any conjecture as to its cause, it flashed out once more, this
time more vividly, and not vanishing again. The light increased every
moment, rising higher and higher against the black sky with a steadily
widening glare.

"Trantowitz is on fire!" cried Herr von Zehren.

It was not Trantowitz; it could not be Trantowitz, that lay further to
the left and much lower. At Trantowitz there were not the lofty trees
whose summits I could now distinguish in the glow which burned now red
and now yellow, but ever brighter and brighter.

"By heaven it is my own house!" said Herr von Zehren, He rushed forward
for a few paces, and then stopping, burst into a loud laugh. It was a
hideous mirth.

"This is a good joke," he said; "they are burning the old nest down.
That is smoking the old fox out of his den with a vengeance."

He seemed to think that this also was the work of his pursuers. But I
recalled the threats which old Pahlen had uttered when I drove her off
the place. I remembered that among the rest she had said something
about "the red cock crowing from the roof."

But however the fire had originated in which the old castle was now
rapidly consuming, it could not have occurred at a more critical moment
for the castle's master. Although we were fully a mile distant, the
flames, which now towered above the gigantic trees of the park, cast
their light to our very feet; and as the awful glare was caught up and
reflected by the black clouds, now changing to a lurid crimson, a
strange and fearful light spread over the whole region. I could clearly
see Herr von Zehren's features: they were, or appeared to me of the
paleness of death.

"For God's sake let us hasten to get away from here," I said to him.

"The hunt is about to begin," he said.

The hunt had begun already. The pursuing party, who had beset the
narrow pass, and had probably no other orders than to cut us off there,
were now, by the strangest accident, enabled to continue the pursuit,
and they made the best use of the opportunity. Spreading out like
skirmishers, without venturing too dangerously near to the morass on
either side, they pressed rapidly on, rousing from their hiding-places
the fugitives, some of whom were stealing across the open space to the
narrow outlet, and others crouching to the earth or lurking in hollows,
in hope that the pursuit would be given over. Here and there a flash
pierced the dusky glow, and the report of a musket rang out; and
everywhere I saw the figures of pursuers and pursued flitting through
the uncertain light, and heard wild cries of "Halt!" "Stand!" and a
loud halloo and laughter when one was caught.

The blood seemed frozen in my veins. To be hunted down, and shot down
in this fashion, like hares at a battue!

"And no arms," muttered Herr von Zehren, through his clenched teeth.

"Here!" cried I, tearing the pistols from my belt and placing one in
his hand.

"Loaded?"

"Yes!"

"Now then, _en avant!_"

At a rapid run we had nearly reached the outlet-pass, distinguishable
to those who knew the localities by a dead oak and a clump of hazels,
when I caught the gleam of musket-barrels above the bushes. It was as I
had dreaded: the outlet was beset.

"I know another way," whispered Herr von Zehren. "Perhaps it will bear
us, and if not----"

I did not let him finish--"On! on!" I cried.

We turned sharply to the right and entered the tall rushes that
bordered the morass. But they had already caught sight of us; there was
a cry of "Halt!" and shots were fired at us; and some came rapidly
running towards us.

"It must be here," said Herr von Zehren, parting the high rushes and
plunging into them. I followed closely behind him.

Slowly and cautiously, crouching almost to the earth, we crept forward.
It was a desperate attempt. More than once I sank to the knees in the
black morass. I had made up my mind, in case I stuck fast in it, to
blow out my brains.

"We shall do it yet," said Herr von Zehren in a whisper to me over his
shoulder. "We have passed the worst now. I know it well. I was here
after snipe last spring, and the villain Jock was with me. So: now we
are through."

He pushed through the rushes, and at the same moment three men, who had
separated from the rest, and must have been lying for some minutes in
ambush a few paces from the outlet, sprang upon us. The foremost man
was long Jock Swart.

"Dog!" hissed Herr von Zehren through his clenched teeth. He raised his
pistol, and long Jock fell to the ground a dead man.

At the same moment, I also fired, and one of the others reeled and fell
with a loud cry. The third shot off his piece, and ran at full speed
back to the morass. The wounded man then rose to his feet and limped
off with considerable celerity, but with loud cries of pain.

Herr von Zehren, in the meantime, had stepped up to the fallen man. I
sprang to his side, and seized the man, who was lying on his face, by
the shoulders to raise him up. As I lifted him his head fell heavily
forward. A cold shudder ran through me. "My God!" I exclaimed, "he is
dead!"

"He would have it so," said Herr von Zehren.

The body of the dead man slipped from my hand. I arose, trembling in
every limb; my brain began to swim. Here stood a man with a discharged
pistol in his hand; there lay another like a log upon the ground, and a
red glow, as if from the open gate of hell, fell upon them both; the
smoke of powder filled the air, and the rushes of the morass gave a
hissing sound as of a thousand serpents.

However deeply the fearful sight and the feeling of horror with which I
gazed upon it, imprinted themselves upon my memory, I remained
stupefied and aghast for but a single moment. Then all other feelings
were lost in the one thought: He must be saved; he must never fall into
their hands! I believe I could have caught up the unhappy man in my
arms and borne him off, had he resisted; but he offered no resistance.
I now know that he was not flying to save his life; I now know that he
would not have stirred one step from the spot, had he known that I had
the leather pouch with ammunition for the pistols in my pocket; but he
supposed that he was weaponless, and he was resolved not to be taken
alive.



                              CHAPTER XIX.


At the edge of the morass, where we now were, there was a hollow, in
which, among the deeper marshy spots overgrown with long reed-grass,
there were higher patches, like islands, covered with thick clumps of
alders, hazels, and willows. For any other, who did not know every foot
of this wild region, it would have been impossible to find any way
here; but the old huntsman, who was now the fox upon whose track the
hounds were following hard, was not for a moment at fault either in the
direction to be taken, or the pathless way that was to lead us through
this wilderness. I have never been able to comprehend how a man of his
age, hard pressed as he had already been, and wounded besides, as I
presently learned, was able to overcome such difficulties as nearly
vanquished my youthful strength. Whenever, since, I have seen an old
thoroughbred, broken down under the saddle or in harness, who still,
when his generous blood is roused, by his fire, his strength, and
endurance, puts his younger rivals to shame, my mind reverts to the
Wild Zehren in this night of terror. He burst through almost
impenetrable thickets as though they were standing grain, he bounded
over wide chasms like a stag, and did not check his rapid course until
we came out of the hollow upon the dunes.

Here we took breath, and held a brief consultation which way we should
next pursue. To our right lay Zanowitz, and could we reach it safely,
certainly some friend or other would help us across the sea, or at the
worst I was sailor enough to handle a sail-boat alone; but it was only
too probable that the village and its vicinity were already beset with
soldiers sent to capture any of the fugitives who might seek refuge
there. To attempt to cross the heath between Zehrendorf and Trantowitz
and reach the house of some one of Herr von Zehren's friends, would
have been mere madness now that the whole sky was reddened with the
still increasing conflagration, and the heath illuminated with a light
that almost equalled that of day. But one chance was left us; to keep
to the left along the strand as far as the promontory, there ascend the
chalk-cliff in the vicinity of the ruined tower, and so reach the
beech-wood of the park, which was but the continuation of the forest
which bordered the coast for about eight miles.

"If I can only get so far," said he; "my arm begins to grow very
painful."

Now for the first time I learned that he was wounded in the arm. He had
not known it himself at first, and then supposed he had only struck it
against some sharp projecting bough, until the increasing pain showed
what was really the matter. I asked him to let me examine the wound;
but he said we had no time for anything of that sort, and I had to
content myself with binding up the arm as firmly as I could with his
handkerchief, which indeed did but little good.

Here among the dunes I remembered for the first time that I had
ammunition in my pocket, and by his direction I reloaded the pistols. A
shudder came over me when he handed me his, and I touched the cold wet
steel. But it was not blood, though in the red light it looked like it:
it was but the moisture from the damp atmosphere still heavy with rain.

We emerged from the dunes upon the strand, in order to proceed more
rapidly over the hard sand. The light was now, when apparently all the
buildings were involved in the conflagration, so strong that a dull
crimson glow, reflected from the reddened clouds, was thrown far out to
sea. Even the lofty and steep chalk-cliffs under which we were
presently passing, looked down upon us strangely in the strange light.
There seemed something unearthly and awful in it; despite the
considerable distance at which we were, notwithstanding that hills and
woods lay between, notwithstanding that we were passing under the
shelter of cliffs more than a hundred feet high, the light still
reached us and smote us, as if what had been done, had been told by the
earth to the heavens, and by the heavens to the sea; and earth, sky,
and sea called out to us--For you there is no escape?



                              CHAPTER XX.


Some feeling of this kind must have been in the breast of the unhappy
man at my side, for he said once or twice, as we clambered up the
ravine, up which a steep path led between thick bushes from the strand
to the top of the cliffs, "Thank God, it is dark here at least!"

During the ascent he had several times complained of his arm, the pain
of which had now grown intolerable, and at last he was scarcely able to
move forward, although I supported him as well as I could. I hoped that
when we reached the top, and he had rested a little, the strength of
which he had already given such extraordinary proof, would return; but
no sooner had we gained the plateau than he sank fainting into my arms.
True, he instantly recovered and declared that it was but a momentary
weakness, and that the attack was over; but still he could hardly
stand, and I was glad when I succeeded at last in getting him to the
ruin, where an excavation, half filled with rubbish, between the walls,
offered at least some protection from the east wind, which blew sharp
and bitter cold over the ridge.

Here I begged him to sit down, while I descended the ravine, where
about half-way from the top there was a tolerably abundant spring, at
which we had made a short pause in our ascent, to get him some water,
as he complained of a burning thirst. Fortunately, on account of the
rain, I had put on in the morning the oil-skin hat which I had on at my
arrival at Zehrendorf, but had not since worn, as Constance expressed
such a dislike to it. This hat now served me for a bucket, and I was
glad when I succeeded with some difficulty in filling it to the brim. I
hurried back as fast as I was able without spilling the precious fluid,
full of anxiety for the man to whom my heart drew me all the more
powerfully, as calamity smote him with such terrible blows. What would
become of him if he were not able soon to continue the flight? After
what had happened at the edge of the morass, no exertion would be
spared to take us; and that an amply sufficient force could be
employed, was but too certain. The second pass had been beset by
soldiers; that I had plainly seen. How long a time would elapse ere
they came up here? If we were to escape, we must be at least six or
eight miles from here before morning, and I thought with a shudder how
he had twice fainted in my arms, and the wild words in which he had
asked for water "that was not burning: it must not be burning." Perhaps
he might revive after quenching his thirst. I had so firm a faith in
the inexhaustibility of his strength.

Thus I tried to encourage myself as I hastened carefully to the ruin
with the water in my hat, and from dread of stumbling scarcely cast a
glance in the direction of the beech-wood, over which the flames were
still glowing. While still at some distance, I thought I heard Herr von
Zehren's voice calling my name, then resounded a shrill laugh, and as I
rushed up in terror, I saw the unhappy man standing at the entrance to
the excavation, his face turned to the fire, gesticulating wildly with
his uninjured arm, and now pouring out execrations, now bursting into
frenzied laughter, or calling for water "that was not burning." I drew
him in deeper between the walls, and made him a kind of bed of the
heath that grew thickly around, over which I spread my coat. Upon
recovering from a brief swoon into which he again fell, he drank deeply
of the water, and then thanked me in a voice the gentle tone of which
singularly contrasted with his previous shrill vociferations, and
deeply moved me.

"I fancied," he said, "that you too had abandoned me, and I must perish
miserably here like a wounded stag. Is it not strange that the last
Zehren who is worthy of the name, here, from the ancient fortress of
his ancestors, now a pile of ruins, must watch the house that later
generations built, consumed by the flames? How did it take fire? What
do you suppose? I have many other questions to ask you, but I feel so
strangely--such strange fancies pass through my head. I never felt thus
before; and my arm too is very painful. I think it is all over with the
Wild Zehren--all over, all over! Let me lie here, George, and die
quietly. How long will it be before the fire eats its way through the
subterranean passage, and the old Zehrenburg flies into the air?"

Thus reason and madness contended in his fevered brain. Now he spoke
connectedly and intelligently of what was next to be done, as soon as
he had recovered his strength a little, and then he suddenly saw Jock
Swart lying before him on the ground, and again it was not Jock but
Alfonso, the brother of his wife, whose heart his sword had pierced.
And yet--and I have often reflected upon this, while pondering over the
singular character of this man--these terrible memories recurring in
his delirium were accompanied with no words that indicated the
slightest remorse. On the contrary, they had been rightly dealt with,
and so should it be with all that ventured to resist his will. If they
had burned his house, all castles and villages for leagues around
should be ravaged by the flames. He would see if he could not punish
his vassals as he thought fit, if they dared to rise in revolt. He
would chastise them until they howled for mercy. Such utterances of his
haughty spirit, exalted to madness by the fever that was raging in his
veins, contrasted frightfully with the utter wretchedness of our
position. While in fancy he was charging through burning towns that his
wrath had given to the flames, his frame was shivering with ague, and
his teeth chattered audibly. The cold, which grew ever keener towards
daybreak, seemed to pierce to my marrow; and as often as the unhappy
man, whose head rested upon my lap, ceased for a while his ravings, my
head sank forwards or sideways to the cold wall against which I was
leaning; and with ever more painful exertions I strove against the
weariness which oppressed me with leaden weight. What would become of
us if my strength gave way? Indeed what would become of us as it was?
We could not remain thus. I was afraid that he would die in my arms if
I could get no assistance. And yet how could I go for help without the
risk of abandoning him to his pursuers? And how could I leave him now,
when he was wanting to dash his head to pieces against the stones, and
was craving to drink up the sea to assuage his consuming thirst?

During the night I had several times gone to the spring for water, and
when I brought it he was always very grateful. Indeed, towards daybreak
he grew much quieter, so that I indulged the hope that after all we
should soon be able to get away. At last, overcome by exhaustion, I
fell asleep, and must have slept some time, for the dawn was already
glimmering when I was awakened by the touch of a hand on my shoulder.
Herr von Zehren stood before me; I looked at him with horror. Now I saw
what he had suffered in that fearful night. His healthy bronzed face
was of a clayey pallor, his large brilliant eyes were dull and deeply
sunk in their sockets, his beard dishevelled, his lips white, and his
clothes torn and covered with dirt and blood. It was no longer the man
that I had known, but more like a spectre.

A faint smile played about his pale lips, and there was a touch of the
old vivacity in the tone of his voice, as he said: "I am sorry to have
to awaken you, my poor boy, but it is high time."

I sprang to my feet and put on my coat, which he had carefully laid
over my shoulders.

"That is, it is high time for you," he added.

"How so?" I asked, in alarm.

"I should not get far," he replied, with a sad smile; "I just now made
a little trial; but it is impossible."

And he seated himself on a projecting piece of the wall, and leaned his
head upon his hand.

"Then I also stay," I said.

"They will soon follow us up here."

"So much the more reason for my remaining."

He raised his head.

"You are a generous fool," he said, with a melancholy smile; "one of
those that remain anvils all their life long. What advantage in the
world could it be to me, that they caught you with me here? And why
should you give up, and let yourself be caught? Are you brought down to
nothing, and less than nothing? Are you an old wounded fox, burnt out
of his den and with the hounds on his track? Go, and do not make me
entreat you any more, for it hurts me to talk. Good-by!"

He reached me an ice-cold, trembling hand, which I pressed with tears
in my eyes, and said:

"How can you ask it of me? I were the vilest wretch alive to leave you
thus. Happen what may, I remain."

"It is my will that you leave me--I command you."

"You cannot--you must yourself feel that you cannot. You cannot command
me to cover myself with disgrace."

"Well then," said he, "I will make a confession to you. It is true that
it so happens that I cannot get away; but were I in condition to
escape, I would not and will not do it. I will not have a hue and cry
raised after me, and placards posted as if I were a vagabond or common
criminal to be hunted through the land. I will await their coming
here--here where my ancestors beat back so many an attack of the
shopkeepers. I will defend myself to the last; they shall not take me
from this place alive. I do not know what I might do, if I were
altogether alone in the world. Probably this would then not have
happened. I have paid dearly for the folly of trying to help my brother
in his distress. And then I have a daughter; I do not love her, nor she
me; but for this very reason she shall not be able to say that her
father was a coward, who did not know when it was time to die."

"Do not think of your daughter!" I cried, losing all my self-control.
"She has rent the single tie by which you were still bound to her." And
briefly and in hurried words I told him of Constance's flight.

My intention was to tear away at all costs every pretext that he might
allege for not doing what he considered unworthy a Zehren. It was most
inconsiderate in me to make such a disclosure to him at such a moment;
but my knowledge of human nature was then very slight, and my faculties
were confused by the anguish of the last thirty-six hours, and my fear
and distress for the unhappy man at my side.

And it seemed that my design had succeeded. He arose, as soon as I had
finished my hurried recital, and calmly said:

"Is it then so with me? Am I a vagabond, and my daughter dishonored? My
daughter a harlot, who throws herself into the arms of the very man
whose hand she cannot touch without dishonoring me? Then may I well do
what others would do in my place. But before we set out, get me another
draught of water, George. It will refresh me; and I must not fail soon
again. Make haste!"

I caught up the hat, joyful that I had at last persuaded him. When I
had gone a few paces he called me back again.

"Do not mind my giving you so much trouble, George. Take my thanks for
all."

"How can you speak so?" I said. "Step back out of the cold wind; I
shall be back in five minutes."

I started off at a run. There was no time to be lost; streak after
streak of pale light was appearing in the east; in half an hour the sun
would rise. I had hoped that by this time we would have been leagues
away in the depth of the forest.

The spring in the ravine was soon reached, but it gave me some trouble
to fill the hat. In the night I had trampled the earth around it, and
stones had rolled in, which nearly blocked it up. While I was stooping
over it and clearing away the obstructions, a dull report of fire-arms
reached my ear. I started and felt involuntarily for the pistol which
was still in my belt. The other I had left with him. Was it possible?
Could it be? He had sent me away!

I could not wait for the water; I was irresistibly impelled to hasten
back. Like a hunted stag I sprang up the side of the ravine, and
bounded over the plateau to the ruin.

All was over.

Upon the very spot where I had parted from him, where I had last
pressed his hand, he had shot himself. The smoke of the powder was
still floating in the excavation. The pistol lay beside him; his head
had fallen sideways against the wall. He breathed no more--he was quite
dead. The Wild Zehren knew where a bullet must strike if the wound was
to be mortal.



                              CHAPTER XXI.


I was still sitting, stupefied and incapable of reflection, by the dead
man, when the first rays of the sun, which rose with tremulous lustre
over the sea, fell upon his pallid face. A shudder ran through me. I
arose and stood trembling in every limb. Then I ran, as fast as my
tottering feet would bear me, along the path that descended from the
ruin to the beech-wood. I could not now say what my real intention was.
Did I simply wish to flee from this place of terror, from the presence
of the corpse whose glazed eyes were fixed upon the rising sun? Did I
wish to get assistance? Did I design to carry out alone the plan of
escape I had formed for both, and thus save myself? I do not now know.

I reached the park and the tarn, the water of which looked blackly
through the yellow leaves that yesterday's storm had swept from the
trees. In this water had drowned herself the wife of the man who had
borne her from her far-off home over her brother's corpse, and who was
now lying dead in the ruins of the castle of his forefathers. Their
daughter had thrown herself into the arms of a profligate, after
deceiving her father, and playing a shameful game with me. This all
came at once into my mind like a hideous picture seen in the black
mirror of the tarn. As if some pitiless god had rent away the veil from
the pandemonium which to my blinded eyes had seemed a paradise, I saw
at a glance the two last months of my life, and what they really were.
I felt a nameless horror, less, I think, of myself, than of a world
where such things had been, where such things could be. If it be true
that nearly every man at some time in his life is led or driven by
malignant demons to the verge of madness, this moment had come for me.
I felt an almost irresistible impulse to throw myself into the black
water which legend represented to be of unfathomable depth. I do not
know what I might have done, had I not at this moment heard the voices
of men who were coming down the path that led from the park. The
instinct of self-preservation, which is not easily extinguished in a
youth of nineteen, suddenly awaked within me. I would not fall into the
hands of those whom I had been since the previous evening making such
prodigious exertions to escape. In a bound I sprang up the bank that
surrounded the tarn, leapt down on the other side, and then lay still,
buried in the thick bushes and fallen leaves, to let them pass before
recommencing my flight. In a minute more they were at the spot I had
left. They stopped here, where the path branched off towards the ruin,
and deliberated. "This must be the way," said one. "Of course; there is
no other, you fool," said another. "Forward!" cried a third voice,
apparently belonging to the leader of the party, "or the lieutenant
will get there from the beach sooner than we. Forward!"

The patrol ascended the path towards the ruin, and I cautiously raised
my head and saw them disappearing among the trees. When I thought them
at a sufficient distance, I arose, and struck deeper into the wood. The
impulse to self-destruction had passed; I had but one desire, to save
myself; and the almost miraculous manner in which I had just avoided a
peril from which there seemed no escape, filled me with new hope, as a
losing player feels at the first lucky cast.

When we boys played "robbers and soldiers" in the fir-wood around my
native town, I had always managed to be of the robber party, and they
invariably chose me their captain. The duties of this office I had
always so discharged that at last none were willing to take the part of
soldiers. The boast that I had so often made in our merry sports, that
no one could catch me unless I allowed myself to be caught, was now to
be tested in deadly earnest. Unfortunately just now, when life and
liberty were at stake, the most important thing of all was wanting, the
fresh and inexhaustible strength that carried me through my boyish
exploits, and which now by reason of the terrible mental emotions of
the last twenty-four hours, and the excessive physical exertion I had
undergone, was well-nigh broken down. To my other sufferings, I was
tormented with gnawing hunger and burning thirst. Keeping always in the
thickest of the forest, I came upon no spring nor pool of water. The
loose soil had long since absorbed the rain of the previous day, and
the slight moisture that I was able to suck from the dead leaves only
increased my sufferings.

My intention had been to traverse the forest, which bordered the coast
for about eight miles, in its whole length, in order to place as much
distance as possible between me and my pursuers, before I made the
attempt to leave the island at any point to which chance might conduct
me. I had trusted that I should be able to accomplish this distance at
the latest by noon; but I was compelled to admit to myself that in the
condition in which I was, and which grew worse every minute, this was
no longer to be thought of. I had also formed no just conception of the
obstacles that impeded me. I had often before been in this forest, but
only for short distances, and I had never been compelled to keep to a
certain direction, and at the same time anxiously guard against every
possibility of being seen. But now, unless I made long detours, I had
to break through dense thickets scarcely penetrable even by the deer,
or again take a circuit which took me far out of the way, to avoid some
open space where there was no sufficient concealment. Then I had to
bury myself in leaves and bushes while I listened to discover whether
some sound that I heard really proceeded from human voices, and
to wait thus until all was again silent. More than once I came upon
forest-paths, where double caution was necessary; and with all I felt
my strength constantly diminishing, and looked forward with terror to
the moment when it should fail me altogether, and I should sink,
probably to rise no more. And to lie here dead, with wide-open, glazed
eyes, like what I had seen--by this time they had probably found him
and carried him down, and then in some fashion or other they must bury
him--but how long would I lie here in the depth of the forest before I
was found, unless it were by the foxes?

But why did I fly, after all? What had I then done to deserve such
extremity of punishment? What could they do to me worse than the
torments I was now suffering? And what was this? Here was a path that
in half an hour would bring me out of the forest. Possibly I might then
at once come upon the soldiers. So much the better; then there would be
an end of it.

And I really went some distance along the path, but suddenly I stopped
again. My father! what would he say when he saw me led by soldiers
through the town, and the street-boys shouting after me? No, no; I
could never bring that upon him; better that the foxes should devour me
than that!

I turned again into the forest, but ever more agonizing grew the strain
upon my fast-failing powers. My knees tottered; the cold sweat ran from
my face; more than once I had to stop and lean against a tree, because
all became dark before my eyes, and I feared that I should faint. Thus
I dragged myself for perhaps half an hour more--it was by my
calculation about two in the afternoon--when my long agony found
an end. In the edge of a small clearing which I had just reached,
stood a little hut, lightly constructed of branches and mats of straw,
looking almost like a dog-kennel, and which probably had been built by
wood-cutters or poachers. I crawled in, buried myself in the straw and
leaves with which the floor of the hut was deeply heaped, and which
happily were tolerably dry, and fell at once into a sleep which was
almost as heavy as death.

When I awaked it was quite dark, and it was some time ere I could
recollect where I was and what had happened; but at last I recovered
full consciousness of my desperate situation. I crept out of the hut
with great difficulty, for my limbs felt as if they were broken, and
the first steps I took gave me excruciating pain. This, however,
presently passed off. My sleep had somewhat refreshed me; but my
hunger, the cravings of which had aroused me, was now so torturing that
I resolved to appease it at every hazard, especially as I felt that
unless this was done, I must of necessity soon give way again. But how
was this to be done? At last I hit upon a plan to which nothing but my
desperation could have prompted me. I determined to keep to the left
through the woods, until I reached the open country, which I calculated
must happen in about an hour. I would then strike for the nearest
farm-house, and there either by fair means or foul get something to
appease my hunger, and perhaps also a supply for the next day.

Accident seemed to favor the execution of this plan. In a few minutes I
came upon a sort of road, which I followed, although it did not run in
the direction that I desired. But how great was my astonishment and my
alarm, as, in far less time than I had hoped, I emerged from the woods,
and by the starlight distinguished a region of country which I could
not by any possibility mistake. There on the right were the cottages
belonging to Herr von Granow's estate, Melchow; further on, embosomed
in stately trees, was the proprietor's house, and from a slight
eminence rose the white steeple of the new village church. Further to
the left, lower down in the valley, lay Trantowitz, and still further,
but on higher ground, had Zehrendorf stood. Indeed, as if to leave me
not an instant of doubt that I had got back to the old well-known
district of country, there suddenly sprang from the immense pile of
ruins where the castle had stood, a flame so high and so vivid that the
steeple of Melchow church glowed with rosy light. But there must either
have been little fuel left for the fire, or else in the day there had
been ample provision made for its extinction, for the flames sank again
immediately, the bright light vanished, and there only remained a
feeble glow, as from the embers of a burnt brush-heap in a field.

So at the sacrifice of all my strength, I had wandered about the whole
day in a circle, and now at night-fall found myself not far from the
spot from which I had started in the morning. This was not very
consolatory, but it was ridiculous; and I laughed--not very loud nor
cheerfully, it is true, but still genuine laughter. And at the same
moment the fancy seized me that perhaps my good genius had led me here
against my wishes. Where would I be less likely to be looked for than
exactly here? Where had I better friends than here at Trantowitz, for
example, where everybody at the house and in the village knew me; where
I could knock at any door and be sure to find help and relief. Besides,
the circumstance that during the entire day I had met no human
creature, to a certain extent assured me that the pursuit towards the
last had not been so hot, and finally I was at the point of starvation,
and had no choice left me, so I pushed on, almost carelessly, over the
fields to Trantowitz, for the first time since we had separated,
thinking seriously of the good Hans, and wondering what had become of
him. Had he overtaken the fugitives? Had there been a scene, as in that
night when the Wild Zehren was pursued and overtaken by the brother of
his mistress, and their blades crossed in the uncertain light of the
Spanish stars? Had blood flowed for the daughter, as well as for the
mother? Had Hans fallen a victim in his bad cause, or had he been
victorious? If so, what then? Were the officers of justice after him as
they were after me? Had they caught him, perhaps red-handed? Was he now
sitting behind bolts and bars?

I grew very sad at heart as this idea struck me. Hans behind bolts and
bars was a melancholy picture--one could as well fancy a polar bear
fireman on a steamer.

Without observing where I was going, I had approached the house nearer
than was necessary to reach the village. From the field a path led
across a dry ditch into a wilderness of about two acres extent, of
potatoe, cabbage, and salad-beds, blackberry thickets, and stunted
fruit-trees, which Hans, by a singular delusion, called his garden, and
prized highly because he here in winter shot the most hares from his
chamber-window. Towards this chamber, famous in all the country round,
my eyes involuntarily turned, and to my great astonishment I perceived
a faint glimmer of light in it. The window was open, and the light, as
I discovered upon a nearer approach, came from the sitting-room, the
door between the two not being closed. I listened, and heard the
clatter of a knife and fork. Could Hans be at home again already? I
could not resist the temptation, clambered through the window into the
chamber, looked through the door, and there sat Hans, just as I had
seen him the previous morning, behind a couple of bottles and an
immense ham, from which he raised his blue eyes at my entrance and
stared at me with a look of astonishment rather than alarm.

"Good evening, Herr von Trantow," I said.

I was about to say more, and explain how I had come, but involuntarily
I clutched a just-opened bottle with shaking hand, and drained it
before I set it down. Hans gave a nod of approval at my prompt recourse
to his universal specific. Then he arose without a word, went out and
closed the shutters of both windows, came in and bolted the door, took
a seat opposite to me, lighted a cigar, and waited in silence until my
ravenous hunger was appeased sufficiently to allow me to converse.

"Suppose in the meantime you tell me what happened to you," I said,
without raising my eyes from my plate.

Hans had but little to tell, and told that little in the fewest
possible words. He had galloped a couple of miles or so along the road
to Fährdorf--the only one which the fugitives could possibly have
taken--when he observed that his horse, who had so far exhibited no
signs of fatigue, began to fail. After riding another mile at a more
moderate pace, he was convinced of the impossibility of continuing the
pursuit. "The road was very bad," Hans said; "I am a heavy rider, and
the poor brute had probably had neither feed nor water for twenty-four
hours." So he dismounted and led the horse at a walk the nearest way to
Trantowitz, where he arrived safely at nightfall. "By the time I had
saddled my Wodan and ridden to Fährdorf," he said, "they were far away.
And then--it is always the way with me that I can never manage to do
what other men would do in my place; and----" Here he drained his
glass, refilled it, leaned back in his chair, and enveloped himself in
a cloud of smoke.

The good Hans! he had meant all for the best--even his plan of smashing
the skull of our happy rival. How could he help it if on this occasion,
as so often before--always in his life indeed--he rode a slow horse? He
could not founder the animal in a cause which really did not concern it
in the least.

About eight o'clock, while he was sitting in his room, he saw the light
of the fire, and saddled Wodan and hurried to it, followed by all his
wagons. Men came over with wagons and fire-engines from the other
estates; but it was not possible to save anything; old Pahlen, who no
doubt had no difficulty in eluding the vigilance of the stupid
stable-boy, had done the work too well--the flames burst from all parts
of the building at once. "I rode home," he went on, "and went to bed,
and waked up this morning. I don't know why, I had much rather never
have awaked again."

Poor Hans!

This morning, for the first time, he had learned from his men what had
happened; how the night before, the officers of the customs, with the
assistance of half a company of soldiers, had hunted down the
smugglers; and that they had caught four or five, who would all be
hung. And a soldier had sunk in the morass, one of the custom-house men
had been wounded, and Jock Swart shot dead. Herr von Zehren had been
found dead this morning at the ruin. That it was a lucky thing for him
not to have lived to learn that his daughter had run away, and that the
old Pahlen, whom the stable-boy Fritz and Christian Halterman had
caught in the act, had set fire to his castle and burned it to the
ground. And they would have hanged him, just as they meant to hang
George Hartwig, the son of customs-accountant Hartwig at Uselin, who
had been the captain of the smugglers, as soon as they caught him.

Hans filled my glass again, and invited me by an expressive look to
empty it at once, as if so I could best afford him the consolatory
assurance that they had not hanged me so far.

Now it was my turn to relate. Hans listened, silently smoking; but when
I described the death of the Wild Zehren, and how I had last seen
him--dead, with his pale face turned to the rising sun, the first beams
of which fell in his glazed eyes--he sighed deeply, rocked his great
head from side to side, and drank deep draughts of wine.

"And now, what do you advise me to do?" I said, at last.

"What is your own idea?" asked Hans.

That my position was a most serious one, even Hans perceived. I had
forced Pinnow, pistol in hand, to take me with him; I had taken the
most direct and most active part in the expedition; I had fired upon
the officers; I had accompanied Herr von Zehren in his desperate
flight. In the eyes of the law these were far from being meritorious
performances; and the less I came into contact with the law henceforth,
the better it would be for me.

"And yet," I said, "would that this were my greatest trouble; but my
father would never outlive the shame of having a son in the
penitentiary; and therefore I am resolved to fly, though it were to the
uttermost parts of the earth."

Hans nodded approbation.

"What if I went to America?"

So brilliant an idea as this, which at a blow removed all the
perplexities of the situation, secured the instantaneous adhesion of
Hans.



                             CHAPTER XXII.


But the most dazzling ideas are frequently found to have their dark
side when it comes to putting them in execution. The financial question
Hans thought he had settled when he went to his desk, which was
not--and apparently could not be--locked, took out a box, and poured
its contents between us on the table. There were from four to five
hundred _thalers_ in gold, silver, and treasury notes, mixed up with
invitations to hunting-parties, receipted and unreceipted bills,
dance-cards (apparently from an earlier time), samples of wool,
percussion-caps, and a few dozen buckshot, which rolled upon the floor
and awaked Caro, who had been asleep under the sofa, and now crept
forth, yawning and stretching, as if he considered that buckshot
belonged to his department.

Hans said that he had at the moment, so far as he knew, no more in the
house; but if it was not sufficient, he would search his coats, in
which he had from time to time found quite considerable sums between
the cloth and the lining.

I was much affected by Hans's kindness; but even were I to avail myself
of it, how was the flight to be accomplished? Hans had heard--and it
appeared only too probable--that search was being made for me
everywhere. How could I, without being seized, make my way to Bremen
or Hamburg or any other port from which I could get a passage to
America--at least so long as the pursuit was still hot?

After much consideration, Hans hit upon the following plan, the
inspiration to which sprang from his generous heart. I was for a while
to remain concealed in his house, until the first heat of the pursuit
was over. Then--always supposing that he was himself unmolested--we
would undertake the journey together, I being disguised as his coachman
or servant. The question now arose about the passport, without which,
as I knew, no one was allowed to go on board the ship. Here also the
inventive Hans found an expedient. A certain Herr Schulz, who had been
his overseer, had intended to emigrate the previous spring, and
procured the necessary papers, but had died before his project was
accomplished. These papers Hans had kept, and after some searching we
found them. It appeared from their contents that the emigrating
overseer was not nineteen, but forty years old; not six feet without
his shoes, which was my stature, but only four and a half; and
moreover, he was distinguished by being very deeply pitted with the
small-pox. Still, Hans was of opinion that they would not look into the
matter so closely, and a hundred _thaler_ note would reconcile all the
little discrepancies.

It was two o'clock by the time we had matured this ingenious plan, and
Hans's eyes were growing heavy with weariness. As he insisted that I
should sleep in his bed, I was obliged to leave him the sofa in the
sitting-room, on which he had scarcely stretched himself when he began
to snore. I covered him with his cloak, and went into his chamber,
where, tired as I was, I still took time to avail myself of the simple
apparatus for ablution that I found there, to my great comfort. Then
dressing myself again, I lay down on Hans's bed.

I slept soundly an hour or two, and as I awaked at the first gray
glimmer of dawn, a resolution with which I had lain down, arose clear
to my mind. I would go: the good Hans should not on my account be
brought into any more serious troubles. The longer I remained with him,
the greater was the probability that his complicity, which it was just
possible might remain concealed as things were, would be discovered,
and it would then appear in a so much more serious light. Besides, I
had in truth but little faith in the availability of the pass of the
deceased overseer of four feet and a half high; and finally, as a youth
of no craven spirit, I was possessed with the conviction that it was my
duty to take the consequences of my action, as far as possible, upon my
own head alone.

So I softly arose from the bed, wrote a few words of gratitude to Hans
for all his kindness, filled my game-bag with the remains of the
supper, stuck the note in the neck of a wine-bottle on the table, in
the assurance that Hans would not overlook it there, gave a parting nod
to the brave fellow who still lay in the same position upon the sofa in
which he had fallen asleep two hours before, patted Caro, who wished to
accompany me, and signified to him that I could not take him, took my
gun, and went out by the same window at which I had entered.



                             CHAPTER XXIII.


Food, drink, and sleep had completely restored my old strength, and I
was now in a condition to play my part in the game of "robbers and
soldiers" more successfully.

The following days--there were three or four of them--form a strange
episode in the history of my life; so that it often seems to me that I
cannot really have lived them, but must have read the whole in some
story-book. Yes, after so many years--there are thirty of them now--the
remembrance of those days comes before me like some story about the bad
boy who lost himself in the woods, and to whom so many uncomfortable
things happened there; and yet who drank so much sweet pure air, and
bathed in so much golden sunshine, that one would give who knows how
many stations in the monotonous turnpike of his orderly life, could he
but once experience such romantic suffering and happiness.

As if heaven itself was disposed to be good to the bad boy who,
whatever his errors, had erred but through youthful folly, and perhaps,
all things considered, was not after all so utterly bad, it sent him
two or three of the loveliest autumn days for his adventurous flight.
The recent rains had cleared the air to a crystalline transparency, so
that the remotest distance seemed brought near at hand. A flood of
bright but indescribably soft sunlight streamed from the cloudless sky,
and penetrated into the inmost recesses of the forest, where from the
huge old trees the yellow leaves silently floated down to the others,
with which the ground was already strewn. Not a sound was audible in
the sunny wilderness except the melancholy chirp of a yellow-hammer in
the thicket, or the hoarse cawing of a crow who regarded with disfavor
the gun which I was carrying, or the faint cry of cranes that, careless
of what was going on below, were winging high in air their proud flight
to southern lands.

Then again I lay in the heart of the forest upon some hillock, perhaps
a "giant's barrow," as they were traditionally called, and watched sly
Reynard steal out of his Castle Malepartus among the great stones, to
bask in the morning sun, while a few paces farther off his half-grown
cubs chased each other and rolled over and over in merry romp; or I
marked in the evening light a herd of deer crossing a clearing, the
stag in front with head proudly held aloft, and only lowered
occasionally to pick a peculiarly tempting tuft of herbage, while the
does came peacefully grazing after.

Again I stood on the heights, close to the verge of the steep
chalk-cliff, and looked longingly out over the blue sea, where on the
farthest horizon a little cloud marked the spot where the steamer which
I had been watching for an hour had disappeared, while in the middle
distance glittered the sails of a pair of fishing-boats. The speck of
cloud vanished, the white sails dwindled away, and with a sigh I turned
back into the forest, scarcely hoping now that I should succeed in
getting off the island.

Twice already I had made the attempt. Once at a small fishing village
that lay at the head of a narrow cove in a recess of the shore, and was
the picture of isolation and loneliness. But the men were all out
fishing; only a very old man and a couple of half-grown youths were at
home with the women and children. If the catch was a good one, it might
be two days before the men came back; and it was not likely then that
any one would take me so far. So said the old man, when I asked; while
a pair of red-haired children stood by staring at me with open mouths,
and an old woman came up and confirmed the man's statement, while the
sun sank below the horizon, and a cool breeze blew down the cove
towards the darkened sea.

It was the second day of my wandering. The first night I had passed in
a sheep-fold: I thought I might venture for once to sleep under a roof;
and the good wife to whom I made the proposal willingly gave up to me
the chamber of her son, who had sailed away three years before, and not
been heard of since. I might, very likely, have spent days in this
retired nook without being discovered; but the necessity of my getting
off the island was too pressing, and early on the next morning I set
out to try my fortune elsewhere.

My next trial was made in a large village. There were boats enough and
men enough there, but no one would take me; not even though I offered
ten dollars, half the money I had, for the short passage to the
Mecklenburg coast, where I might consider myself tolerably safe. I do
not know whether, as was possible, they knew who I was, or merely saw
something suspicious in the wild-looking young man with a gun on his
shoulder who asked a passage to another country; or whether, as I
seemed in such extreme haste, and appeared to have money, they merely
wished, by delay and apparent reluctance, to extort a higher fare. But
after an hour had been spent in parleying, and Karl Bollmann said he
was willing to take me, if Johann Peters would lend his boat; and
Peters, for his part, was ready to go, but only in Bollmann's boat; and
Christian Rickmann, who was standing by with his hands in his pockets,
said he would take me with his boys, but not for less than thirty
dollars; and all then held a whispering consultation together, during
which the whole population, women and children included, gathered
around--I thought it prudent not to await the result, but turned
abruptly away, and strode off towards the dunes. A half-dozen followed
me, but I showed them my gun, upon which they kept back.

The same day I had another proof that the pursuit for me was still kept
up, which indeed I had never doubted. It was towards evening, when
reconnoitring from the edge of the woods a piece of open country that I
had to cross, I caught sight of two mounted patrols on the road,
talking with a shepherd who had driven his flock upon the strip of
heath between the road and the woods. I observed that they several
times pointed to the forest, but the shepherd's answers seemed
satisfactory, for they presently rode away in the opposite direction,
and disappeared beyond some rising ground. When I thought them far
enough, I came out of my concealment and joined the shepherd, who was
knitting a long black stocking, and whose simple face gave a sufficient
guaranty of the security of the step. He told me, in answer to my
inquiries, that the patrol were on the track of a man who had committed
a murder. He was a tall young man, they had said, and a desperate
villain; but they would have him yet.

The lively imagination of the stocking-knitter had probably had
sufficient time in the interval between the departure of the patrol and
my appearance, to paint the portrait of the fugitive from justice in
the most frightful colors. At all events he did not recognize me, but
took me at once for what I gave myself out to be: a huntsman, who was
stopping on a visit at one of the neighboring estates, and not knowing
the country well, had lost his way. He gave me minute directions how to
find my way, thanked me for the coin I put in his hand, and dropped his
knitting in astonishment as he saw me, instead of following his
directions, strike across the heath into the forest.

The vicinity of the patrol had startled me, in fact, and I had
determined to pass this night in the woods. It was a bad night. Warm as
it had been in the day, it grew cold at nightfall, and the cold
steadily increased as the night advanced. In vain did I bury myself a
foot deep in the dry leaves, or try by brisk walking backwards and
forwards to gain a little warmth. The dense mist that arose from the
earth soaked my clothes through, and chilled me to the marrow. The long
hours of the autumn night crept on with dreadful slowness; it seemed as
if it would never be day. And in addition to these physical and almost
intolerable sufferings of cold, hunger, and fatigue, the recollection
of what I had recently gone through presented itself to me in ever more
frightful pictures the longer the night lasted, and the more hotly the
fever burned in my veins. While, half dead with fatigue, I staggered
backwards and forwards in a clear space between the trees, I saw myself
again on the moor at Herr von Zehren's side, with Jock Swart lying dead
at our feet, while the flames of the burning castle wrapped us in an
awful glare, so fearfully bright that it seemed the whole forest was
burning around me, while yet my limbs shivered and my teeth chattered
with cold. Then Herr von Zehren sat before me as I had last seen him
sitting, with the rising sun shining in his glazed eyes; and then again
it was not Herr von Zehren, but my father, or Professor Lederer, or
some other, but all dead, with glassy eyes open to the sun. Then again
I became conscious of my real situation, that it was dark night around
me, that I was excessively cold, that I had sharp fever, and that
despite the risk of discovery I must resolve to kindle a real fire
instead of the frightful visionary one which I still saw in my feverish
hallucination.

I had provided myself against this necessity with a large piece of
touchwood which I had broken out of a hollow tree and placed in my
game-bag. By its aid I succeeded after a while in kindling a pile of
half-dry wood, and I cannot describe the delicious sensation that
thrilled through me as at last a bright flame sprang up. The cheery
light drove back the fever-phantoms into the darkness from which they
had sprung; the luxurious warmth expelled from my veins the icy cold. I
dragged together great quantities of fuel; I could not sufficiently
luxuriate in the sight of the curling smoke, the leaping flames, and
the glittering sparks. Then I seated myself at my forest-hearth, and
resolved in my mind what I should do to escape a situation which I
clearly saw I could not long endure. At last I hit upon a plan. I must
make the trial to get away at some one of the points from which there
was a regular communication with the main-land, and which I had, on
good grounds, hitherto avoided; and the attempt must be made in
disguise, as otherwise I should be recognized instantly. The difficulty
was, how to obtain a suitable disguise; and here a happy thought struck
me. I had noticed in the chamber in which I had slept the previous
night, a complete sailor's dress hanging against the wall; very likely
the kind old woman would sell it to me. If thus disguised I could get
off the island, I was pretty confident that by a night-march I could
reach the Mecklenburg frontier; and once there, I would let chance
decide what was next to be done.

At early dawn I began to put this plan into execution; and although I
had a walk of eight or ten miles to the lonely fishing village, I
reached it just after sunrise. The good old dame would not hear of any
sale; I needed the things, and that was enough; perhaps some one in
some strange land might do as much for her son, if he was alive--and a
tear rolled down her aged wrinkled cheeks. My clothes and my gun--for I
had left my pistol at Hans's--she would keep for me; I should have them
any time that I came for them. I do not I know for what the kind old
creature took me; but no doubt she thought that I was in distress; and
she helped me thus because I said that this was the only way to help
me. The worthy soul! Later in my life it was in my power in some
measure to repay her kindness, if indeed a kind deed can ever be
repaid.

So I set out at once upon my way, which took me, through many perils,
directly across the island to a point where I determined to wait until
evening before entering Fährdorf, which I could reach in an hour.
Relying upon my sailor's dress, which fitted me perfectly, and, as I
thought, completely disguised me, I had chosen the ferry which led most
directly to Uselin. In this way, it was true, I should have to go
through my native town; but it was probable that just there I should be
least looked for; and at that time, I confess it, it took but a little
to rouse in me the old daring spirit which had already played me so
many an unlucky trick. With a grim satisfaction I imagined myself
pacing at night through the silent streets, and even considered whether
I should not write on the door of the _Rathhaus_[4] the old saying of
the Nuremburgers, and sign my name to it.

At nightfall I entered Fährdorf. I had missed the boat; but the next
one, which was the last, sailed in half an hour. As I had seen through
the window of the tavern that the large tap-room was almost empty, and
as I must of necessity strengthen myself for my night-journey, I
entered it, took my seat at the farthest table with my face to the
wall, and ordered some supper of the bar-maid.

The girl went to get it for me. On the table, beside the candle which
she had lighted, lay a beer-stained copy of the Uselin Weekly News of
the previous day--another cleaner copy is now lying beside the page on
which I am writing. I took it up, and my first glance fell upon the
following announcement:


                                NOTICE.

Frederick William George Hartwig, former pupil of and fugitive from the
Gymnasium in Uselin, strongly suspected of smuggling, of violent
resistance to officers of the Government, and of murder, has still,
notwithstanding every exertion on the part of the authorities, evaded
arrest. As it greatly concerns the public welfare that this apparently
most dangerous person should be brought to justice, he is hereby
summoned voluntarily to surrender himself; and all persons who may have
any knowledge of the place of concealment of the aforesaid Hartwig, are
called upon to give notice thereof without delay to the undersigned. We
also urgently and respectfully request the various authorities, both
here and abroad, to keep a strict watch for the aforesaid Hartwig,
(description at foot), to arrest him promptly, should he be discovered,
and forward him to us at our expense, under the assurance of the
readiest reciprocity on our part in a similar case. (Signed)
Heckepfennig.

District of * * *

Uselin, November 2, 1833.

I will not copy the description that followed. The reader could learn
from it nothing except that at that time I rejoiced in dark-blond,
curly hair ("sorrel-top" the boys used to call me when they wanted to
tease me), stood six feet without my shoes, and, as a well-finished
specimen of humanity, had no special marks, or at least none in the
eyes of Herr Justizrath Heckepfennig.

But in truth, at this moment so critical for me, I scarcely noticed the
description of my person; the Notice occupied all my thoughts. When,
the evening before, the shepherd said that the man whom the patrol were
after was charged with murder, I did not believe it for a moment. He
was such a simple-looking fellow, that I thought the patrol had been
telling him a frightful story to scare him, or to enhance their own
importance. But here it stood in large clear letters in the _Weekly
News_, which, as but few other papers had ever fallen into my hands,
was always to my uncritical youthful mind invested with a certain
magisterial authority--I might almost say, bore the stamp of
infallibility. "Suspected of murder!" Was it possible? Was I then
looked upon as the murderer of Jock Swart? I, who had thanked God when
I saw the man at whom I had fired, limping briskly off? I, whose only
consolation in these last days of suffering, was that at the worst no
man's death weighed upon my conscience? And here it was proclaimed to
all the world that I was a murderer!

The bar-maid brought the refreshment I had ordered, and I think advised
me to waste no time, as the ferry-boat would soon start. I scarcely
heard what she said, but left my supper untouched, and sat staring at
the paper, which I had hastily turned over as the girl entered, as if
my printed name might betray me. But on the other side it again
appeared in a paragraph headed _City Items_. The paragraph ran thus:

"Yesterday evening, in some unaccountable way, a rumor got afloat that
George Hartwig, whose name is now in everybody's mouth, had taken
refuge in the house of his father, Customs-Accountant Hartwig, and was
there in hiding. An immense crowd, of probably more than a hundred
persons, assembled in consequence in the Water street, and tumultuously
demanded that the young criminal should be given up to them. In vain
did the unhappy father, standing on his threshold, protest that his son
was not in his house, and that he was not the man to obstruct the
course of justice. Even the vigorous exertions of those dauntless
public servants, officers Luz and Bolljahn, were ineffectual; only the
eloquent appeals of our respected mayor, who had hurried to the spot at
the first news of the disturbance, succeeded at last in dispersing
the excited crowd. We cannot refrain from earnestly warning our
fellow-citizens of the folly and lawlessness of such proceedings,
although we willingly admit that the affair in question, which
unhappily seems to assume even more serious proportions, is of
a nature to strongly excite the minds of all. But we appeal to the
men of intelligence--that is to say, to the great majority of our
fellow-citizens--and ask them if we cannot repose the fullest
confidence in the authorities? Should we not be convinced that the
public welfare is in better keeping in their hands than in those of a
thoughtless, ungoverned mob? And in reference to the occurrence of
yesterday, we earnestly appeal to the good feeling of all well-meaning
persons. Let them remember that the father of the unhappy George
Hartwig is one of our most respectable citizens. He would, as he
declared, and as we for our part firmly believe, be the last to
obstruct the course of justice. Fellow-citizens, let us respect this
assurance; let us respect the man who gave it. Let us be just,
fellow-citizens, but not cruel. And before all, let us take care that
the reputation of good-order and of a law-abiding spirit which our good
old town has so long enjoyed, be not lost through our fault."

The well-known signal summoning the passengers on board, now sounded
from the wharf, and at the same moment the girl came in again and told
me I must make haste.

"But you have not eaten a bit!" she exclaimed, and stared at me with
surprise and alarm. I suppose that I looked very pale and agitated. I
muttered some reply, laid a _thaler_ on the table, and hurried from the
house.

Notwithstanding the lateness of the hour, the boat was crowded with
passengers. On the forward-deck were standing two saddled horses, which
could only belong to the mounted patrol; and I soon discovered their
riders, who were the same that I had seen talking to the shepherd, as I
gathered from their conversation with a couple of peasants. They were
complaining bitterly of being recalled, for they were sure, they said,
that they would have caught the villain, who must be somewhere hidden
on the island, though six more besides themselves, two on horseback and
four on foot, had searched it through in every direction. Now the
others would gain the reward, while they were sent for to keep order in
the town, which was no affair of theirs; there were Bolljahn and Luz to
attend to that duty.

I sat quite near them, and could hear every word they said; and I
thought what delight it would give the brave fellows if I were suddenly
to stand up and say, "here's the villain." But I could not afford them
that pleasure; what I had resolved to do, must be done voluntarily. So
I kept quiet, and it never occurred to the wise servants of the law
that the young sailor who was listening to them with such apparent
interest was the man they were looking for.

The wind was fair, and the passage quick; in half an hour the boat
reached her wharf. The horses pawed, the patrolmen swore, the
passengers crowded out of the boat, and went up the wharf with their
luggage. At the upper end of the wharf, just by the gate, stood fat
Peter Hinrich, the landlord of the sailor's tavern, and asked me if I
would not lodge in his house. I said I had a lodging engaged elsewhere.

So I passed through the ruinous old port-gate, which was never shut,
and entered the Water street. When I arrived at the small house, I
paused for a moment. All in the house was dark and silent, and it was
dark and silent in the street; but only two days before there had been
commotion enough here, and there upon the threshold my father had stood
and said that he was not the man to obstruct the course of justice. He
should not incur the suspicion of having concealed his son in his
house; he should see that his son had still some regard for his
father's good name, and that he had the courage to face the
consequences of what he had done.

The exhortations of the _Weekly News_ had not been in vain. The little
town seemed as if life had departed; the energetic Luz and Bolljahn,
with the best will in the world, could have found no field for their
activity. My steps resounded along the empty alleys, which struck me as
being singularly narrow and crooked. Here and there was light in the
windows; but folks went early to bed in Uselin, and the authorities
could therefore extinguish the street lamps at a very early hour,
especially when, as now, the new moon over St. Nicholas's church looked
sadly down through driving clouds upon the empty market-place.

I stood in the market-place before the house of Herr Justizrath
Heckepfennig. It was one of the stateliest mansions in the town. How
often had I passed it when I came out of school at mid-day, and cast a
glance of respectful longing at the left-hand corner-window in the
second story where Emilie used to sit behind a vase of gold-fish, and
always happened, just as I passed by--a little dim window-mirror gave
her faithful notice--to have her attention attracted by something in
the market. Now I again looked up at the window, but with very
different feelings. There was a light in the room, which was the usual
sitting-room of the family. The justizrath used to smoke his evening
pipe there. I had a presentiment that the visit that he would presently
receive would cause it to go out.

The good people of Uselin did not usually fasten their street-doors
until they went to bed; but whether it was that the recent disturbances
so energetically and successfully contended with by the officers Luz
and Bolljahn had rendered greater precautions advisable; or whether the
justizrath, in his double capacity of wealthy man and officer of the
law, insisted upon a stricter rule in this matter--in any case his door
was fastened, and it was some time before my repeated ringing was
answered by a female voice that called through the keyhole in rather a
quavering tone to know who was there. My reply, "one who wishes
urgently to speak with the Herr Justizrath," did not seem by any means
entirely to satisfy the portress, who could be none other than the
pretty housemaid Jette. A whispering followed, from which I inferred
that Jette had brought the cook with her; then a giggling, and finally
the answer that she would tell her master.

I was patrolling up and down before the house in my impatience, when a
window opened in the sitting-room above, and the Herr Justizrath in
person, putting out his head a very little way indeed, repeated the
question of the housemaid, and received the same answer.

"What is your business?" asked the cautious man.

"I come from the island," I replied at a venture.

"Aha!" cried he, and closed the window.

For some days the justizrath had done nothing but give audience to
people who professed to be able to throw some light upon the great
mystery. A sailor or fisherman just from the island, and who urgently
desired to speak with him at ten o'clock at night, could come with but
one object: to make some important communication which might bring some
illumination into the obscurity of this mysterious affair. I for my
part believed that the justizrath had recognized me by my voice, and
that his exclamation meant: "So! here you are at last!" I was soon to
learn how greatly I was mistaken.

The door was opened, and I hastily entered. Scarcely had the light of
the candle which Jette was holding up in her hand, fallen upon my face,
when she gave a loud scream, dropped candlestick and all, and ran off
as hard as she could, while the cook followed her example, at least so
far as screaming and running went. The cook, who was an elderly female,
ought to have had more sense; but still she only knew me by sight, and
for a long time had heard nothing but horrors about me, so I cannot
blame her. But the conduct of the pretty Jette admitted of no defence.
I had always been very friendly to her, partly on her mistress's
account, and partly on her own; and she had always freely acknowledged
it, coquettishly smiling whenever I met her, saluting me with her
deepest curtsey whenever I entered the house, and now--but I had now
something else to think of than the ingratitude of a housemaid. I
passed through the dark hall, ascended the stair I knew so well, and
knocked at the door of the justizrath's study, which adjoined the
sitting-room, and to which he had doubtless betaken himself to receive
his late visitor.

"Come in!" said the justizrath, and I entered.

There he stood, just as I expected to find him, a tall,
broad-shouldered figure, wrapped in his loose flowered dressing-gown,
his long pipe in his hand, his low, narrow forehead wrinkled into deep
folds as he fixed his little stupid eyes with a look of curiosity upon
me at my entrance.

"Well, my friend, and what do you bring?" he asked.

"Myself," I answered, in a low but resolute voice, stepping up nearer
to him.

My presentiment that he would let his pipe go out was fulfilled by his
simply letting it drop upon the floor; and without saying a word he
caught up the skirts of his flowered dressing-gown in both hands, and
fled into the family-room.

There I stood by the broken pipe, and trampled out the glowing ashes
which had fallen upon the little carpet by the writing-table. While
engaged in this certainly not criminal occupation, I was startled
by a cry for the watch from the adjacent window that opened on the
market-place. It was the voice of the justizrath, but it had a very
hoarse and lamentable sound, as if some one had him by the throat. I
stepped to the door of the sitting-room and knocked.

"Herr Justizrath!"

No answer.

"Frau Justizrath!"

All silent.

"Fräulein Emilie!"

A pause, and then a frightened little voice that I had so often heard
laughing, and with which I had sung so many a duet in parties by land
and water, piped feebly out:

"What do you want?"

"Tell your father, Fräulein Emilie, that if he does not at once stop
calling the watch, and does not immediately come into his study, I
shall go away and not come back."

I said this in a tone in which resolution and politeness were so
blended, that I was sure it could hardly fail of its effect. I could
hear a whispered discussion within. The women seemed to be adjuring the
husband and father not to adventure his precious life in so manifest a
peril, while the husband and father sought to calm their terrors by
heroic phrases, such as, "But it is my duty," or, "It might cost me my
place!"

At last, assisted by these weighty considerations, duty triumphed. The
door slowly opened, and by the side of the flowered dressing-gown I
caught a glimpse of the cap of the Frau Justizrath, and of the
curl-papers of Fräulein Emilie, whose golden ringlets I had always
supposed a beautiful work of nature. But so many great illusions of
mine had been dissipated in the last few days, that this small one
might well go with the rest.

Hesitatingly the justizrath closed the door behind him, hesitatingly he
came a few paces nearer, stopped and tried to fix me firmly with his
eye, in which, after some difficulty, he almost succeeded.

"Young man," he began, "you are alone?"

"As you see, Herr Justizrath."

"And without weapons?"

"Without weapons."

"Without any weapon?"

"Without any weapon."

I unbuttoned my sailor jacket to convince my questioner of the truth of
my statement. The justizrath evidently breathed more freely.

"And you have come----?"

"To surrender myself to justice."

"Why did you not tell me so at once?"

"I do not think you gave me time."

The justizrath cast a confused glance at his broken pipe on the floor,
cleared his throat, and seemed not to know exactly what was to be done
in such an extraordinary case. There was a pause of silence.

The ladies must have inferred from this pause that I was engaged in
cutting the throat of the husband and father; at least at this moment
the door was flung open, and the Frau Justizrath, in night-gown and
night-cap, came rushing in and fell upon the neck of her spouse in the
flowered dressing-gown, whom she embraced with every mark of mortal
fear, while Emilie, who had followed close behind her, turned to me,
and with a tragic gesture of supplication, raised both her hands as
high as her curl-papers.

"Heckepfennig, he will murder you!" sobbed the nightgown.

"Spare, oh spare my aged father!" moaned the curl-papers.

And now the door leading into the passage opened. Jette and the cook
were curious to see what was going on, though at the peril of perishing
in the general massacre, and appeared upon the threshold wailing aloud.
This mark of courageous devotion so touched the night-gown that it
burst into a flood of hysterical tears, and the curl-papers tottered to
the sofa with the apparent intention of swooning upon it.

Here the justizrath showed, for the second time, how great emergencies
bring out the strength of great characters. With gentle firmness he
freed the flowered dressing-gown from the embrace of the night-gown,
and said in a voice that announced his resolve to do and dare the
worst: "Jette, bring me my coat!"

This was the signal for a scene of indescribable confusion, out of
which, in about five minutes, the victim of his devotion to duty
emerged victorious with coat, hat, and stick: a sublime sight, only the
effect was a little damaged by the hero's feet being still covered with
embroidered slippers, a fact of which he was not aware until it was too
late, when we were standing on the pavement of the market-place.

"Never mind, Herr Justizrath," I said, as he was about to turn back.
"You would not get away again, and we have but a few steps to go."

In fact the little old _Rathhaus_ was at the other side of the by no
means wide square, and the pavement was perfectly dry, so that the
victim of fidelity had not even to fear a cold in the head.

"Herr Justizrath," I said, as we crossed the market-place, "you will
tell my father, will you not, that I gave myself up voluntarily, and
without any compulsion; and I will never mention to any one a word
about the broken pipe."

I have spoken many foolish and inconsiderate words in my life, but few
that were more foolish and more inconsiderate than this. Just as I was
touching the point which I might say was the only thing in the whole
affair to which I attached importance, namely, to show my pride to the
father who had disowned me, I failed to perceive that I gave mortal
offence to a man who would never forgive, and had never forgiven me.
Who can tell what other turn the affair might have taken, if, instead
of my unpardonable stupidity, I had intoned a pæan to the heroic man
who knew how to guard himself from a possible and indeed probable
attack, and then did his duty, happen what might. But how could I know
that, young fool that I was?

So we reached the open hall of the _Rathhaus_, where in the day time an
old cake-woman used to sit in a chair sawed out of a barrel, before a
table where plum-buns and candies lay upon a cloth not always clean,
that was constantly fluttering in the wind that blew through the hall.
The table was now bare, and presented a very forlorn appearance, as if
old Mother Möller, and not only she, but all the cakes, plum-buns, and
candies of the world, had departed forever.

A desolate feeling came over me; for the first and only time this
night, the thought occurred to me that perhaps after all I had better
make my escape. Who was to prevent me? Assuredly not the slippered hero
at my side; and as little the old night-watchman Rüterbusch, who was
shuffling up and down the hall, in front of his sentry-box, in the dim
light of a lantern that swung from the vaulted roof. But I thought of
my father, and wondered if his conscience would not smite him when he
heard the next morning that I was in prison; and so I stood quietly by
and heard the night-watchman Rüterbusch explaining to Justizrath
Heckepfennig that the matter would be very hard to manage, since the
last few days so many arrests had been made, that the guard-house was
completely full.

The guard-house was a forbidding-looking appendage to the _Rathhaus_,
and fronted on an extremely narrow alley in which footsteps always made
a peculiar echo. No townsman who could avoid it ever went through this
echoing alley; for that gloomy appendage to the _Rathhaus_ had no
door, but a row of small square windows secured with iron bars and
half-closed with wooden screens, and behind them here and there might
be seen a pale, woe-begone face.

A quarter of an hour after the conversation between Herr Justizrath
Heckepfennig and night-watchman Rüterbusch had come to a satisfactory
conclusion, I was sitting behind one of these grated windows.



                              PART SECOND.



                               CHAPTER I.


This little alley by the _Rathhaus_, in which footsteps gave such a
singular echo, had never, even within the recollection of the most
ancient crow on the neighboring steeple of St. Nicholas's church,
enjoyed such a reputation for uncanniness as in the last two months of
this year, and the first two of the next. It was also observed that in
no previous winter had the snow lain so deep in it, and it grew dark
much earlier in the evening than had ever before been known. And Mother
Möller, the old cake-woman in the _Rathhaus_ hall, who always hitherto,
in the winter season, packed up her wares at the stroke of five, now
did it regularly at half-past four, because, as she affirmed, just as
it grew dark there was "what you might call a kind of corpsy smell
about," and her old table-cloth flapped about in a way no natural
table-cloth would do. On the other hand Father Rüterbusch, the
night-watchman, asseverated that for his part he had not observed
either in the hall or the alley anything out of the common, not even
between twelve and one o'clock, which was the fashionable hour with
ghosts, let alone at other times. Yet people were more disposed to
accept the views of the old cake-woman than those of the still older
night-watchman; as the first, though she took a nap now and then, still
on the whole was more awake than asleep; while in regard to the other,
the regular customers of the _Rathhaus_ cellar, who had to pass his
post at night, maintained precisely the contrary. By these assertions
they deeply wounded the good heart of Father Rüterbusch, but did not
confute him. "For, d'ye see," he would argue, "you must know that a
sworn night-watchman never goes to sleep, on any account; but it may
happen that he pretends to be asleep, in order not to mortify certain
gentlemen who would be ashamed if they knew the old man had his eye on
their doings. And mark you, I am willing to be qualified to what I say,
upon my oath of office; and none of them can say that. And even if many
of them, for instance Rathscarpenter Karl Bobbin, come and go the same
way every evening, that is to say every night, for nigh on to twenty
years now, a habit is not an office, mark you; and I for my part have
never heard, for example, that the customers of the cellar ever took
any oath or were qualified in any manner, shape, or form; and yet it
was only last Easter I celebrated my jubilee, for it was then fifty
years I had held this place, and I went to school with Karl Bobbin's
father, who was never of any account, for that matter."

However, be that as it might, during the winter of '33-'34, there was
but one opinion of the matter in Uselin; and that was, that if there
_was_ anything queer about the Rathhaus alley, nobody need wonder at
it, as things were.

Things were certainly bad enough, and worse for no one than for me,
who, as was admitted on all hands, was by far the chief figure in the
great smuggling case; for into such proportions, thanks to the
inquisitorial genius of the justizrath who had charge of the
investigation, a thing which to my eyes was of extreme simplicity had
now been developed.

As if it was of the least importance how the case looked in _my_ eyes!
As if anybody gave himself the trouble to inquire what _my_ thoughts or
wishes were! But no; I will do Justizrath Heckepfennig and co-referent
Justizrath Bostelmann no injustice. They gave themselves the very
greatest trouble; but they had no desire to find out where the truth
lay, and where I told them it might be found.

"Why had I left my father?" they asked.

"Because he ordered me out of his house!"

"A fine reason, truly! Angry fathers often tell their sons to be gone,
without the idea ever seizing the sons to start off into the wide
world. There must be something more behind. Perhaps you wanted to be
sent off?"

"To a certain extent I admit it."

"Perhaps you admit it unqualifiedly?"

"I admit it unqualifiedly."

"Very good. Actuary, please to take down the reply of the prisoner, who
admits without qualification that he wished to be sent off by his
father. And when and where did you first make the acquaintance of Herr
von Zehren?"

"On that evening at Smith Pinnow's."

"Had you never seen him before?"

"Never, to my knowledge."

"Not even at Smith Pinnow's? Pinnow declares that Herr von Zehren was
so often at his house, and you also so often, that it is incredible
that you never met before."

"Pinnow lies, and knows that he lies!"

"You still persist then that your meeting with Herr von Zehren was
entirely accidental?"

"Entirely."

"How much money had you about you when you left your father?"

"Twenty-five _silbergroschen_, as well as I can remember."

"And had you any prospect of obtaining anywhere a permanent position?"

"None."

"You had no such prospect, had but twenty-five _silbergroschen_ in your
possession, were anxious that your father should send you off, and yet
you persist in asserting that your meeting on that same evening with
the man who took you at once into his house, and with whom you stayed
until the final catastrophe, was purely accidental! You are sharp
enough to see how extremely improbable this is; and I now ask you for
the last time, if, at the risk of casting the strongest suspicions on
your veracity, you still persist in that statement?"

"I do."

Justizrath Heckepfennig cast a look at Actuary Unterwasser as much as
to say: Can you conceive such impudence? Actuary Unterwasser smiled
compassionately, and sadly shook his head, and scratched away with his
pen over his paper, as if his shocked moral sense found some relief in
getting such inconceivable things at all events down in black and
white.

Thus it went on with I do not know how many interrogations and
examinations; summary examination, examination in chief, articular
examination. Often I could not tell what they were aiming at, and what
was the object of all the long-winded interrogatories, and short
cross-questions, in which last Justizrath Heckepfennig considered
himself particularly great. I complained bitterly of this to my
counsel, Assessor Perleberg, saying that I had told--or, as they
preferred to express it, confessed--everything to the gentlemen.

"My dear sir," said the assessor, "in the first place it is not true
that you have confessed everything. For instance, you have refused to
say who was the person whom caller Semlow saw, about four o'clock on
the evening in question, with you on the path leading to Zehrendorf.
And in the second place, what is confession? In criminal jurisprudence
it has but a very subordinate value. How many criminals cannot be
brought to confess at all? and how many confessions are false, or are
afterwards recanted? The real object of the examination is the
detection of guilt. Consider, my dear sir, your entire so-called
confession might be a fabrication. It has often happened before, the
criminal record--"

It was enough to drive a man desperate. Years after, my counsel became
a great beacon and luminary of jurisprudence; and indeed he was such at
that time, though he was not then a professor, a privy-councillor, and
a man of wide reputation, but an obscure assessor of the superior
court, a very learned man, and of wonderful acuteness--a world too
learned and too acute for a poor devil like me. With his "in the first
place," and "in the second place," he would have prejudiced a jury of
angels against innocence herself, to say nothing of a college of
learned judges who could not avoid the conclusion that a man whose
defence required so extraordinary an expenditure of learning and
acumen, must of necessity be a very great criminal. I can still see him
sitting on the end of the table in my cell, which was fastened with
iron clamps to the wall, jerking his long, thin legs, and flourishing
his long, thin arms, like a great spider who finds a broken mesh in his
web. It was probably a hard task for so learned a spider, into whose
web a clumsy blue-bottle had blundered and was floundering about in his
awkward way, to extricate him with scientific nicety. And now for the
first time I began to find out how far-spreading this web was, and how
many flies, besides myself, were entangled in its meshes.

There were very careless flies that under the masks of respectable
citizens and honest tradesmen of my native place and the neighboring
towns, had for years carried on an extensive business in smuggled
goods, and defrauded the revenue of thousands upon thousands. This sort
of flies was very dirty and disgusting. For as soon as one had caught
its foot in the web, and found itself entangled, it turned traitor to
its companions, and did not rest until all were fast in the web.

Then there was another and honester species, though it was far from
wearing so honest an appearance. These were my old friends, the
weather-beaten, tobacco-chewing, silent men of Zanowitz and the other
fishing villages on the coast. They had by no means had so good a time
of it as the gentlemen in the counting-houses and behind the counters.
They had had to fight with wind and storm, to keep watch and ward, to
suffer hunger and cold, and carry their lives in their hand, and all
for small gain, many of them for only just enough to keep wife and
children from starving; and yet, though four of them had been taken
prisoners in that terrible night on the moor, the examiners could draw
nothing from them. No one betrayed his comrade; no one knew who had
been the man at his side. "The night was dark, and in the dark all cats
are gray; every man had enough to do to look to himself. If Pinnow has
said that this man and that man was there, why he can probably make
oath to it." In vain did the justizrath ask the most ingenious
questions, in vain did he wheedle and threaten--they had to let go a
dozen or two that were very strongly suspected, and console themselves
with the reflection that at all events they had four who had been taken
in the act.

Yes, it was a very peculiar sort of flies who had thus been caught with
the others in the web of law; a tough, rough sort, very inconvenient
for the guardians of the flesh-pots of an orderly government, but still
honest after their fashion, and not the sneaking crew that the others
were.

These two species of flies had for a long time played into each other's
hands, but without any proper system, and consequently at great
disadvantage, until, about four years before, the business had taken a
sudden and enormous expansion. For some one, who hitherto, like all the
proprietors along the coast, had obtained his wine, his brandy, his
salt, his tobacco, from the smugglers in small quantities, had hit upon
the idea that what was needed was an intermediary between the supply
and the demand; a middleman who should provide a sort of warehouse or
magazine for the smuggling trade, and thus afford the furnishers an
opportunity of getting rid of larger quantities at once, and the
purchasers the means of procuring their supplies as they needed them,
and at convenient times.

This plan, founded on the soundest commercial principles, begotten of
necessity, and joyfully welcomed by the naturally adventurous spirit of
the man, he carried out with the audacity, the judgment, and the
energy, which so highly distinguished him. The solitary position of his
estate upon the long promontory, with the open sea on one side and a
narrow strait on the other, was as if it had been made for the very
purpose. If before the dealings were in boat-loads, now whole ships'
cargoes were received at once, or in a couple of nights, and stored in
the cellars of his castle, from which they were gradually delivered to
the purchasers, the neighboring proprietors, and the tradespeople in
the small towns of the island and the little seaports of the mainland.

This part of the business was chiefly undertaken by Smith Pinnow. Smith
Pinnow had been long known to be a smuggler, had been frequently
overhauled by the officers of justice, and more than once punished,
when of a sudden he found that he was going blind, had to wear great
blue spectacles, and could only in very fine weather, with the help of
his deaf and dumb apprentice Jacob, take some of the bathing-guests at
Uselin out in his cutter for an hour or two's sail. This affliction
befel the worthy man just at the time that the great smuggler-captain
on the island, whose attention had been drawn to so highly qualified an
assistant, one night paid a visit to the forge, and took him, so to
speak, into his service. From that time forth the two acted in concert;
and by the time the four years had passed, the smith had amassed so
much money that he would never have thought of betraying his chief, had
not jealousy got the upper hand of the old sinner. "If you do not leave
the girl in peace, I will shoot you down like a dog," the Wild Zehren
had said; and Smith Pinnow was not the man to quietly put up with such
a threat, especially when he knew in what deadly earnest it was
uttered.

From that time a rumor, of which no one knew the source, spread abroad
in the city, but especially in the offices of the customs, that the
Wild Zehren at Zehrendorf was the soul of the whole smuggling trade,
which was carried on with such activity for leagues up and down the
coast. At first no one gave credit to the rumor. To be sure the Wild
Zehren was a man whose name was used as a bugbear to frighten children
with in Uselin; and no doubt things were known or believed of him which
people hardly ventured to whisper--he had stabbed his brother-in-law,
he had horribly maltreated his wife and afterwards drowned her in the
tarn in the woods, and more of the same sort--but these were things
that were to be expected of the Wild Zehren, while smuggling--no, it
was not possible! A man of the most ancient nobility, and whose brother
moreover was the highest officer of the Revenue Department in the
province!

This was the general opinion. But now and then there would be a voice
heard, but very softly indeed, remarking that however different the
brothers might be in disposition, mode of life, and even in person,
they resembled each other at least in this, that both were deeply in
debt; and similar causes might very well produce similar effects. If
the Wild Zehren's undertakings had been accompanied with such
extraordinary good fortune during these years, the reason probably was
that the custom-officers had no clue to his movements, while he, for
his part, was perfectly well informed when and where there was no risk
of meeting any of them.

The matter might still have been long quietly argued _pro_ and _con_,
had not an unlucky chance happened to give effect to Smith Pinnow's
treachery. In the same night when Pinnow and Jock Swart, who could
have turned traitor to his master from no other cause than sheer
black-heartedness, lodged their information with Customs-revisor Braun,
the provincial customs-director arrived in Uselin. The revisor, who
belonged to the party that distrusted their chief, did not go to the
latter, as he would certainly have contrived to render the denunciation
harmless; but went straight to the director, who at once laid his plans
with great skill and forethought, to strike a strong blow at the
smugglers, in which he succeeded but too well.

Was the steuerrath guilty? There was no direct proof of the fact, if it
was a fact. The steuerrath had always declared that for a long time he
had broken off all personal intercourse with his brother, whose
conduct--though in truth he was greatly reformed of late--was of a
nature to compromise a faithful public officer. And in truth, the Wild
Zehren had in the last year never been seen with his brother, nor even
in the city. If, notwithstanding, there had been any personal
intercourse between them, their meetings must have been kept extremely
secret. Any letters he might have received from his brother, the
steuerrath would of course have destroyed; and if the Wild Zehren was
less cautious, he was now dead, his castle burned to the ground--who or
what was there to bear witness against the steuerrath?

I was the only one who could have done it. I remembered well the
expressions which Herr von Zehren had always used in speaking of his
brother; I knew that this last expedition had been made chiefly on that
brother's account. I had held in my hands the proof of his guilt,
and--destroyed it.

It seemed as if something of the sort was suspected. Suddenly the name
of the steuerrath made its appearance in the examinations to which I
was subjected, and I was closely questioned as to what I knew of the
relations between Herr von Zehren and his brother. I firmly denied all
knowledge of anything of the kind.

"My dear sir," said Assessor Perleberg, "why do you wish to screen the
man? In the first place, he does not deserve to be spared, for he is a
bad subject, take him as you will; and in the second place, you thus do
yourself irreparable injury. I will tell you beforehand, you will not
get off with less than five years, for in the first place----"

"For God's sake let me alone!" I said.

"You grow less reasonable every day," said Assessor Perleberg.

And he was quite right; but it would have been a marvel had it been
otherwise.

I had been confined now for nearly half a year in a cell but half
lighted by a small grated window, and which I could traverse with four
steps lengthways and with three across. This was a hard trial for a
young man like me, but harder, much harder, were the mental sufferings
that I endured. The confidence in humankind which had hitherto filled
my heart, was all now gone. That no one visited me in my prison, I
could lay to the account of Justizrath Heckepfennig, who felt it to be
his duty to see that so dangerous a man held no communication with the
outer world; but that men to whom I had done nothing, or at the worst
had perhaps at some time or other, in my clumsy way, ruffled their
pride a little, should set their hearts upon trampling a fallen man
still deeper into the dust--this I could not forgive; this it was
that filled my soul with bitterness unspeakable. Ten witnesses were
called to prove my previous good character; and of these ten there was
but one, and that one the man whom of all others I had most deeply
wounded--Professor Lederer--who ventured to say some words in my
behalf, and to put up a timid plea for lenity. All the rest--old
friends of my father, neighbors, fathers whose sons had been my friends
and companions--all could hardly find words to express what a miscreant
I had been all my life long. And good heaven! what had I done to them?
Perhaps I had filled the pipe of one with saw-dust; I had caught a pair
of pigeons that belonged to another; the son of a third I had sent home
with a bloody nose--and this was all.

I could not comprehend it, but so much of it as I did understand,
filled me with inexpressible bitterness, which once even broke out into
indignant tears when I learned through my counsel that Arthur--the
Arthur whom I had so dearly loved--when interrogated as to his
association with me, declared that for years I had talked to him about
turning smuggler, and had even attempted to persuade him to join me;
that I had always been on the most intimate terms with Smith Pinnow,
and that if he were asked if he believed me capable of the crime laid
to my charge, he must answer unequivocally Yes.

"That ruins you," said Assessor Perleberg. "You will not get off under
seven years; for in the first place----"

I brushed away the tears that were streaming down my cheeks, burst into
a wild laugh, and then fell into a paroxysm of frantic rage, which
finally gave place to a stony apathy. I still felt a kind of interest
in the sparrows that I had taught to come every morning and share my
ration of bread; but all other things were indifferent to me. I
learned, without feeling any special interest in the news, that
Constance was already deserted by her princely lover, who had yielded
to the entreaties and threats of his father; that Hans von Trantow had
disappeared and no one knew what had become of him, but the general
opinion was that he had met with some accident in the forest or on the
moor; that old Christian had never recovered from the effects of his
young mistress's flight, his master's death, and the burning of the
castle, and had been found one morning lying dead among the ruins which
he could never be prevailed on to leave; and that old Pahlen had
escaped from the jail at B. in which she had been confined. I heard all
this with indifference, and with similar apathy I received my sentence.

Assessor Perleberg, with his "first place" and "second place," had been
perfectly right. I was condemned to seven years' imprisonment in the
prison at S.

"You may think yourself lucky," said Assessor Perleberg. "I would
have condemned you to ten years and to hard labor; for in the first
place----"

It was no doubt a mark of youthful levity that I had no ears for the
very learned and instructive exposition of my counsel, and that too
when it was my last opportunity. But I was really thinking of something
quite different. I was thinking what the Wild Zehren would have done
had he been alive and learned that they had shut up his faithful squire
in prison and placed his own brother as jailor over him.



                              CHAPTER II.


It was an evening of May, as the wagon in which I was conveyed,
escorted by two mounted gendarmes, drew near the place of my
destination. On the left of the road, which was lined with stunted
fruit-trees, I saw numbers of laborers working on the new turnpike
which was to connect my native town with the provincial metropolis; on
the right, open meadow-land stretched away to the sea, which was
visible as a wide dark-blue streak. On the other side of the water,
from a low beach of sand, green fields sloped upwards to a moderately
high upland which was crowned with woods. This was the island, which
here lay much nearer the mainland than it did near Uselin, and which I
now beheld again for the first time. Before me, still more than a mile
distant, I could perceive two towers rising high above a range of hills
that we were slowly approaching.

My feelings were strange. During the whole journey I had been looking
through the rents in the cover of the little wagon, but only watching
for an opportunity of escape. But however determined I was to seize the
very first that presented itself, there was none, not even the
slightest. The two gendarmes, of whom one was one of those who had
hunted me in vain upon the island, rode on the right and left close
behind the wagon without exchanging a word, their moustachioed faces
looking straight between their horses' ears, or turned sideways towards
the wagon. There was not the slightest doubt that the first movement
that looked like an attempt to escape would bring the butts of their
carbines to their shoulders. To make the attempt in the presence of two
well-armed, well mounted, and thoroughly determined men, would have
been to seek, not liberty, but death.

And none of the chances had happened which I had imagined possible. We
had passed no bridge over which I might have leapt into a torrent, we
had entered no crowded market-place in which I might have sprung into
the throng, and perhaps found shelter with some compassionate soul.
Nothing of the kind; we travelled the seven or eight miles of the
journey at a walk, or a short trot, without a single halt, and without
an interruption of any kind, and now before me rose the towers in whose
shadow lay my prison.

And yet at this time I no longer felt the wrath and burning indignation
which had filled my breast the whole time that I was in custody under
examination. The two hours in the open air had done me inexpressible
good. It had been raining for some time before, and I had held out my
hands to catch the drops; I had inhaled with delight the fresh air that
blew into the wagon. Now the sun had again broken through the clouds,
and, as it was near its setting, cast long ruddy streaks over the green
sprouting fields and the sparkling meadows. Birds sang and twittered in
the trees by the wayside; just before us in the east stood a brilliant
rainbow with one foot on the mainland, and the other on the island. All
nature seemed so calm and gentle, so free from hate or anger; on the
contrary all things wore so mild a beauty and breathed such sweet
peace, that I who from a child had sympathized with every mood of
nature, could not close my heart to her soft solicitations. My heart
sang with the birds; it floated on the moist pinions of the gentle
breeze that bore blessings over the fields and meadows; it bathed in
the bright hues of the bow of hope, which sprang from earth to heaven
and back to earth again. The feeling that I was, as it were, a part of
all these, and yet was sitting a prisoner in the jail-van, begat in me
such a sense of pity for myself as I had never before experienced. I
covered my face with my hands and wept.

The sun had now set; the eastern and western skies were glowing with
the most splendid hues as the van rolled through the town-gate, rattled
up two or three narrow, badly-paved streets, and stopped at last at a
gateway in a high dead-wall. The gate slowly opened, the van rolled
across a wide yard shut in on all sides with lofty blank walls and
tall, gloomy-looking buildings, to the gate of the tallest and most
forbidding of these, and there stopped. I had reached the place where I
was to spend seven years because I had endeavored to guard my friend
and protector from the results of a crime which I myself abhorred.

Seven years! I was determined that it should not be so long. I had read
the adventures of Baron Trenck, and knew that it was possible to pierce
thick masonry and undermine great fortress-walls. What he had succeeded
in doing, I thought I could not fail to accomplish.

So my first proceeding, when the door closed behind the surly warden,
was to examine my cell as closely as the faint remains of daylight
would allow. If all the prisoners were so well lodged, there were
certainly many of them that fared much worse when at liberty. The walls
of the small room were simply whitewashed, it is true; but so were
those of my garret at home. There was an iron bedstead with what seemed
a very comfortable bed, a clothes-press, at the solitary window a large
table with a drawer, two wooden chairs, and, to my surprise, a great
arm-chair covered with leather, which strongly reminded me of the one
in my room at Castle Zehrendorf.

Yes, I was again the guest of a Zehren, though this time he was only
the superintendent of a prison. It seemed as if the Zehrens were
inextricably woven into my life. They had brought me but little good
fortune; and the proud lustre that had formerly seemed to me to illume
the name, had greatly paled in my eyes. The steuerrath, in whom the boy
had beheld the incarnation of the highest earthly authority, what
was he in the eyes of the prisoner but a liar and hypocrite who had
ten-fold and a hundred-fold deserved the misfortunes he had brought
upon men who were better than he? And the man here, who, sprung from
such a family, had been willing to undertake such an office as his,
must be even worse than the hypocrite and liar. I would let him feel
the full measure of my contempt when I met him; I would tell him that
if he chose to be a jailor, he ought at least to renounce the name
which his noble brother had borne, who preferred dying by his own hand
to falling into the hands of those who would have brought him here,
behind this triply-bolted door, and these windows with massive bars of
iron.

The window was by no means so high as those in the guard-house, and I
looked with curiosity through the bars. The prospect might have been
worse. True, a high and perfectly blank wall shut out the view to the
left, but on the right I could see into a court planted with trees, in
which at no great distance was a two-storyed house presenting a gable
covered entirely with vines. Behind the house there seemed to be a
garden: at least I could catch glimpses of fruit-trees in blossom. All
this had a very lovely and peaceful appearance in the dim light of the
spring evening; and the shrill twittering of the swallows that skimmed
in flocks past my window, might have made me forget that I was a tenant
of a prison, had I not been painfully reminded of it by the sharp angle
of one of the bars against which I had pressed my forehead.

I seized the bar with both my hands, and shook it with my whole force.
Six months of confinement had not deprived my muscles of their
strength, as I well perceived. I felt as if with one wrench I could
bring away the whole grating. Did I deceive myself, or did it yield
a little? I was not mistaken; either the screws were loose, or the
wood-work decayed; I could not at the moment determine which; but this
seemed no grating that could hold me. My heart beat with the exertion
and the joyful surprise. I had vowed to myself that they should not
keep me seven years! But caution! it was not the grating alone that
made a prisoner of me. Were the grating away, there was a depth of at
least thirty feet to the stone pavement of the court. And were I safely
down, there were doubtless other difficulties to overcome, and a
baffled attempt at escape might make my position incalculably worse.

I heard a rustling in the passage. Footsteps drew near and came to my
door. I sprang back from the window and stood in the centre of the
room, when there was a rattling of keys on the outside, the door
opened, and a man of tall stature entered, passing the turnkey, and the
door was closed after him. He stood for a moment at the threshold, and
then approached me with a peculiar light step. From the ruddy evening
clouds there still fell a pale rosy light into the room; in this rosy
glow I always see him again when I think of him--and how often do I
think of him, with the deepest emotions of gratitude and love!

Over the table at which I am writing these words, hangs his portrait,
painted by a beloved hand. It is a most perfect likeness. It would
recall to my memory every feature, every line, were it possible that I
could forget them. And now, did I close my eyes, he would stand before
me again as he stood on that evening, in the rosy sunset light, and not
less clearly would I hear his voice, whose soft, deep tone I then heard
for the first time, and whose first word was one of pity and sympathy.

"Poor youth!"

How deeply must the prison air have poisoned my heart, that these words
and the tone in which they were spoken did not move me! Alas, it is one
of my most painful recollections that this was so; that I rudely
repulsed the hand of the noblest of men, and deliberately wounded the
kindest heart on earth. But the narrative of my life would have no
worth, if my faults were not honestly set down. And I have often
thought that I might not have learned to love him so well had I been
less obdurate at first, had I not given him the occasion to heap upon
me all the wealth of his benevolence and love. And yet I err in this.
Jewels of the costliest price, of the purest water, need no dark foil.

"Poor youth!" he said again, and held out his white and almost
transparent hand; but let it fall again, when, instead of taking it and
pressing it with reverence to my lips, as I should have done had I
known him, I folded my arms and stepped back.

"Yes," he said, and his voice sounded, if possible, still gentler than
before, "it is very hard, very cruel, the fate which has befallen you
for a crime which, whatever it may be in the eyes of the judge who must
follow the stern letter of the law, in the eyes of others merits a
milder name, for at least it does in mine. I am the brother of the man
for whose fault you are suffering."

He seemed to expect an answer from me, or at least some word of
acknowledgement, which I would not give. I would not do my jailor the
favor to help him in his attempt to show himself in another light than
that in which I saw him.

"It is a strange caprice of fortune," he continued, after a short
pause, always in the same gentle manner, "that one brother should to a
certain extent be the instrument of punishing you for the injury which
another has done you--a chance for which I am thankful, and which I
think I shall rightly employ by--but of this another time. To-day the
gloomy shadow of the first dreary impression a place like this must
make upon a spirit like yours, lies too heavily upon you; though I
could speak with the tongues of angels, I could find no entrance to
your heart, which is closed by anger and hatred. I have merely come to
perform a duty which my office and I may say my heart prescribes. And
this also is my duty, so that you may freely answer me without feeling
that your pride is making concessions. Have you any wish that it is in
my power to grant?"

"No," I answered, "for you could hardly give me a day's shooting over
the heaths of Zehrendorf."

A sad smile played around the superintendent's delicate lips.

"I have heard," he said, "that you used to hunt much with my brother,
and that you are yourself a skilful hunter. The hunter's nature is a
peculiar one. I think I understand it, for I was born with the hunter's
instincts; but there is no room for its exercise in these court-yards
and gardens. I seldom have a holiday, and still more rarely avail
myself of it; and in this respect I enjoy, and indeed desire, but
little advantage over my prisoners. So it would be a hard trial for me,
if with the old passion I still possessed my former vigor; and thus I
may almost count it a piece of good fortune that at the Battle of
Leipzig I was shot through the lungs, so that it would avail me nothing
though I had the range of the boundless hunting-grounds of America. I
have since learned to confine my activity within narrower limits. My
favorite recreation is the turning-lathe. It is light work, and yet
often proves too heavy for an invalid like myself I shall probably soon
give it up, and must choose some still lighter work. But I should not
like to find myself condemned to absolute inactivity. You do not now
know, but you will soon learn, how great a blessing to a prisoner is a
mechanical occupation which fixes his wandering thoughts upon some near
and easily obtainable result which shapes itself under his hand. And
now I will leave you. I have still two visits to make, besides my
evening round through the building. One thing more: the old man who
will wait upon you, is, despite his rough ways, a thoroughly good
man, whom I have known for many years, and who has rendered me in my
life the most important services. You can trust him absolutely. Now,
good-night, and good sleep to you, and dream of the freedom which I
hope you will sooner regain than you now think."

He gave me a friendly nod, and left the room with the slow, light step
with which he had entered. I looked after him with fixed eyes, and
passed my hand over my brow; the silent cell seemed to have become
suddenly darker.



                              CHAPTER II.


I was still standing on the same spot, endeavoring to collect my
thoughts, when the door again opened, and the old turnkey who had first
received me, entered with a lighted candle, which he placed upon the
table. Then returning to the door, he took from some female whose form
was barely perceptible, a waiter upon which was a collation, and even a
bottle of wine. He laid a snow-white napkin over one corner of the
great oak table, placed everything neatly and orderly, took a step back
and cast a satisfied look at his work, then an angry one at me, and
said with a voice which strikingly resembled the growl of a great
mastiff: "There!"

"It seems this is for me," I remarked, indifferently.

"Don't see who else it could be for," growled the old man.

The roast meat on the dish had a very appetizing odor; for half a
year I had not tasted a drop of wine; and what was more, I did not
feel towards the surly turnkey the aversion that I felt towards the
gently-speaking, courteous superintendent; but I was resolved to accept
no favors from my jailor.

"I owe this to the kindness of the Herr Superintendent?" I asked,
taking my seat at the table.

"This and more," said the old man.

"For instance?"

"For instance, that one has our best cell, with a look-out into the
garden, and not one looking into the prison-yard, where neither
sunlight nor moonlight ever comes."

"Thanks," said I, "anything else?"

"That one can wear his handsome town-clothes, instead of unbleached
drilling; which is not such a bad rig, though, after all."

"Thanks," said I; "anything else?"

"And that one has Sergeant Süssmilch for warden."

"With whom I have the honor?"

"With whom one has the honor."

"Much obliged."

"Well you may be."

I looked up to get a better view of the man whose relation to me was so
fraught with honor and advantage. He appeared to be above fifty years
of age, of short, compact build, who seemed to stand remarkably firmly
for his age upon his short bowed legs. From his broad shoulders hung a
pair of quite disproportionately long arms, with great brown hairy
hands, which evidently had not lost their strength of grasp. From his
furrowed and wrinkled face, which might once have been good-looking,
twinkled under gray bushy eyebrows a pair of clear, good-humored eyes,
which in vain tried to look fierce and cruel. His smooth, close-cropped
gray hair lay thick above his bronzed forehead; and beneath his great
hooked nose, like an eagle's beak, a heavy moustache drooped on either
side far below his firm chin. Sergeant Süssmilch was, in later years,
long my true friend; in hours of trial he rendered me priceless
services; he taught my eldest boys to ride; and when, five years ago,
we carried him to his last resting-place, we all heartily sorrowed over
him; but at this moment I was considering what amount of resistance he
would be likely to offer in a contingency which I deemed very probable,
and thought that I should be sorry to have to take the life of the old
fellow who was so delightfully surly.

"If one has looked at Sergeant Süssmilch long enough, one will do well
to fall to the supper, which is getting no better by standing," he
said.

"It may stand there for me," I answered. "I have no appetite for the
Herr Superintendent's roast meat and wine."

"Might as well have said so at once," growled Herr Süssmilch,
commencing to replace the things on the waiter.

"Who the deuce was to know what your custom here is," I said in a sulky
tone.

"The custom here is that one has to work when he wants to eat."

"That is not true," I said. "I am not condemned to labor: I was
sentenced to seven years' imprisonment, and should by rights have been
sent to the fortress, where decent people go."

"Meaning one's self?" asked Herr Süssmilch.

"Meaning one's self."

"One is altogether mistaken," he replied, having by this time cleared
away the things. "In the prison one is compelled to work, unless one
has a father or some one who will pay for his keep. In this case one
has a father, and gets from him ten _silbergroschen_ daily."

"Herr Süssmilch," I cried, stepping up to the old man, "I take for
granted that you are telling me the truth; and now I give you my word
that I will rather starve in the dungeon like a rat, than take a penny
from my father."

"One will be of another way of thinking to-morrow."

"Never."

"Then one will have to work."

"We shall see about that."

"Yes, we shall see."

Süssmilch went, but stopped at the door, and remarked over his
shoulder:

"One wants, then, the ordinary diet, such as every one receives when he
comes here?"

"One wants nothing at all," I said, turning my back upon him.

"No light, then, for that is extra too."

I made him no answer. I heard the old man go to the table, take the
light, place it on the waiter, and move to the door. There he paused,
apparently to see if I would change my mind. I did not move. He
coughed; I took no notice. The next moment I was alone in the dark.

"To the devil all of you, with your smooth ways and your rough ways!" I
muttered to myself "I want the one as little as the other, and I will
be under obligations to no one--no one!"

I laughed aloud, seized the grating of the window and shook it, and
then ran up and down the dark room like some wild animal. At last I
threw myself in my clothes upon the bed, and lay there in gloomy
desperation brooding over my fate, which had never before seemed to me
so intolerable. I wrought myself up to a pitch of wild hatred against
all who had had any share in my ruin, against my judge, my counsel, my
father, the whole world; strengthening myself in my resolution not to
abate my obduracy, not to ask the slightest thing of any one, not to be
grateful to any one, and above all to win my liberty, cost what it
might.

Thus I lay for long hours. At last I slept and dreamed of a flowery
meadow over which were fluttering gay butterflies which I tried to
catch but could not, for whenever I touched them they turned to red
roses. And the red roses, when I attempted to pluck them, began to
flash with light and ring with music, and flashing and ringing they
floated up to heaven, whence they looked smiling down upon me as the
faces of blooming maidens. It was all so strange and sweet and fair,
that I lay upon the grass, laughing with bliss. But when I awaked I did
not laugh. When I awaked Süssmilch stood at my bed-side and said: "Now
one will have to work."



                              CHAPTER III.


For a fortnight I had been doing the very hardest work which at the
time was to be had in the establishment, which combined in itself the
features of a work-house, jail, and penitentiary. I was not compelled
to do this either by the letter of the law which prescribed that
prisoners should be employed in accordance with their capabilities, nor
by order of the superintendent, who on the contrary had allowed me to
choose whatever work I preferred. Indeed he proposed to me to draw up
certain lists, and make out certain accounts which happened to be
needed in the office, and for which the materials should be sent to my
cell. For exercise I might find pleasant and healthful work in the
large garden, which was about to be extended.

I replied--and in this I spoke the exact truth--that I was but a poor
hand at accounts, and that I understood nothing of gardening. I should
prefer, if I were allowed any choice in the matter, the very hardest
work that could be found. The Herr Superintendent had himself remarked
that work of this sort was the most suitable to a man of my
constitution. I had at first denied this; but had more maturely
considered the matter and found that the superintendent was right.
Indeed I must confess that I felt an irresistible desire to split wood,
to break stone, or to handle great weights.

In this, too, I spoke but the truth. My powerful frame was really
suffering from the compulsory inactivity. But there were other reasons
besides this which really prompted my request. Though I scarcely knew
it myself, most of my decisive steps were taken with reference to my
father. It was in a spirit of defiance to him that I had left his
house; it was in defiance to him that I had given myself up to justice;
and it was in defiance that I rejected his provision for my support and
demanded the hardest work. He should not have it in his power to say
that I ever, even in prison, was a burden to him; he should know that
his son was treated no better than a common criminal, which indeed he
was in his eyes.

And as little should the soft-speaking superintendent be able to say
that he had dealt out to the young man who came of such respectable
parents, mercy instead of justice.

And finally, heavy work which would have to be done in the open air
must offer better chances for the execution of the plan over which I
was brooding day and night, the plan either by cunning or force, or
both combined, to obtain my liberty.

Now it is true that the work in the garden which was proposed to me
perhaps offered still greater facilities for my purpose. The watch that
would be kept there would hardly be very strict, especially for me,
whom for some reason or other the superintendent seemed so particularly
disposed to favor; but here a feeling arose within me which would
probably appear singular to most men in my position, and yet of which I
have no cause to feel ashamed.

I was not willing to abuse any confidence that might be placed in me. I
had never done this in my life before; and I would not learn it now,
not even though a prisoner, not even to win the liberty for which I so
wildly longed. If they set me to work with the common criminals
condemned to hard labor, they would probably treat me and watch me as
one of them; and if they neglected this, so much the worse for them who
made the distinction at their own risk, and so much the better for me
who did not ask to be spared, and consequently was under no obligations
to spare any one.

These thoughts passed through my mind as I appeared before the
superintendent on the following day--this time in his office--and
presented my request to him.

He looked searchingly at me with his large gentle eyes, and answered:

"Whoever enters this place as a prisoner, is an unhappy man, who as
such alone is entitled to my compassion. If your fate touches me more
nearly than the rest, the reason is so clear as to need no explanation.
You have rejected the sympathy which I proffered you, but have not
offended me. From what I know of you, from your attitude during your
trial, this was what I had to expect. Whether you do well to reject the
provision which your father is willing to make for you, I greatly
doubt, as by so doing you but widen the breach between you; and in any
circumstances one owes a father so much, that one can, without shame,
accept even a humiliation at his hands. But this matter I must leave to
your own feelings. If you wish to be treated as a common pauper
criminal, who has to work for his maintenance, I had planned, as you
know, work for you better suited to your capacities and your education.
You say that what you desire is hard, laborious work. It may be so: you
are a man of very unusual bodily strength, and the confined air of a
prison is poison to both your mind and body. You have been deeply
embittered by the long term of your preliminary detention, which
appears to have been unprecedentedly rigorous. You will again, I am
convinced, become the generous, good-natured, noble fellow which you
are by nature, and which in my eyes you still are, when you have
expanded this deep chest with pure fresh air, and your torpid
circulation has been quickened by active work. You need, moreover, a
strong counterpoise to the passions that are raging within you. So, all
things considered, I am willing to grant your request. Süssmilch shall
show you your duties. But I tell you beforehand, it is convicts' work,
and you will find yourself in very bad company; so much the earlier
will you remember the difference between you and them."

He gave me a friendly look and wave of the hand, and dismissed me. A
feeling which I could not explain brought tears to my eyes as I turned
from him to the door, but I forced them back and said to myself: That
is all very fine; but I do not wish to be good, I wish to be free.

At the extreme corner of the prison wall, upon a slight elevation,
there was a new infirmary to be built. Design, plans, specifications,
had all been prepared by the superintendent himself, who was an
excellent architect, and the work was to be done by the convicts. They
were now digging the foundations. It was a heavy piece of work. An old
tower, forming part of the city wall, had once stood upon the spot the
ruins of which in the lapse of centuries had first crumbled to rubbish,
and then become consolidated into a compact mass which had to be broken
up with the pick until the old foundation-wall was reached, which was
to serve in part for the new building.

About twenty men were employed on this work. Sergeant Süssmilch had the
general supervision of it, and indeed, I being the only prisoner under
his immediate charge, had nothing else to do, the convicts from the
penitentiary being under the charge of two overseers. The most of these
convicts, of whom the majority were young men, and all strong and well
fitted for such work, looked as any men would look dressed in coarse
drilling, working under the eyes of a pair of stalwart overseers, and
forbidden to smoke, to whistle, to sing, or to speak in a low tone.
This latter prohibition first struck me upon hearing Süssmilch give to
one who had attempted to open a private conversation with his neighbor,
in a very emphatic tone the warning: "One has no secrets here; one can
talk loud or hold his tongue."

This warning was most frequently given to one particular convict, with
the additional remark that he had every reason to be careful.

This was a fellow of Herculean frame, the only one that had what might
be called a thorough gallows-face, and who owed his precious life only
to the circumstance that a murder of which he was most vehemently
suspected, could not quite be brought home to him in the eyes of the
judges. He was named Kaspar, and his fellow-convicts called him
Cat-Kaspar, because he was believed to possess the mysterious faculty
of seeing in the dark as well as in broad daylight, and,
notwithstanding the gigantic breadth of his shoulders, of creeping
through holes only large enough to allow the passage of a cat.

From the very first day I had made a conquest of this richly-gifted
man. While the others watched me with suspicious side-glances, never
spoke a word to me, and visibly avoided me, Cat-Kaspar sought every
opportunity to be near me; made furtive signals with his eyes, first
looking at me and then at the overseers, and gave me in every way to
understand that he wished to enter into more intimate relations, and
especially that he wished to speak with me.

I confess that I felt the strongest abhorrence for the man, whose
nature was plainly enough indicated by a low forehead almost covered by
his hair, a pair of evil, poisonous eyes, and a great brutal mouth; and
any one would have felt the impulse to shun him even without the
knowledge that his hands were stained with blood. But I mastered this
instinctive aversion, for I said to myself that this man would have
decision enough for any venture, and dexterity and strength enough to
carry out any plan. So I also sought an opportunity to get near him,
but did not succeed until we had been working together for a fortnight.
I had hardly effected this, when I made the discovery that Cat-Kaspar,
in addition to the accomplishments of which I had heard, possessed
another, which I afterwards found out to be easily acquired. This art
consisted in a most perfect imitation of a yawn, and while holding the
hand to the open mouth, forming by means of the tongue and teeth
certain sounds which, when closely listened to, could be detected to be
words. Thus for the first time I heard, to my no small astonishment,
from the midst of the most natural yawn in the world, the words: "The
great stone--help me."

What he meant I learned a few minutes later.

They had recently been hauling stone for the foundations, and a
particularly large one, through the clumsiness of the wagoners, had
rolled into the foundation at a place where it was not needed. It
seemed a matter of impossibility to get it out again without erecting
apparatus for the purpose. Sergeant Süssmilch swore at their cursed
stupidity, which would now cause an hour or more of unnecessary work.
Cat-Kaspar, after he had given me the mysterious hint, suddenly raised
his voice and said:

"What is the great difficulty, Herr Süssmilch? I will undertake it,
single-handed."

"Yes, if a big mouth could do it," growled Herr Süssmilch.

The rest laughed. Cat-Kaspar called them a pack of toadies, and said
that it was an easy thing to crack jokes and laugh at an honest fellow
who was not allowed to show what he could do.

Cat-Kaspar knew his man. The honest sergeant turned red in the face; he
pulled his long moustache, and said:

"In the first place, no arguments; in the second place, one may show
now what he can do."

In an instant Cat-Kaspar had seized an immense crowbar and sprung into
the foundation.

The stone lay upon the incline covered with planks by which the rubbish
and earth were hauled away, and a giant, by means of a lever, might
perhaps have rolled it up. Cat-Kaspar certainly exhibited very
surprising strength. Thrusting his bar under the stone, he raised it so
far that it required but little more to turn it over. The exertion of
strength was really so astonishing, that the men hurrahed, and the
attention of even Sergeant Süssmilch and the two overseers was riveted
on the performance. Suddenly Cat-Kaspar's strength seemed to fail him;
he looked as if in peril every instant to be crushed between the stone
and the bank of earth.

"Help me, some one!" he cried.

I did not imagine that all this was a mere stratagem of the cunning
rascal. Snatching a second crowbar, and without waiting for the
sergeant's permission, I leapt down, thrust the bar under the stone,
clapped my shoulder to it and heaved with all my strength, and the
stone rolled over.

"Hurrah!" shouted the men.

"Slowly, comrade," said Cat-Kaspar, as I was exerting myself further to
help him with the stone, "slowly, or we will get up too soon."

He had no need to yawn now; the excitement of both convicts and
overseers was such that the regulations were for the time forgotten;
and then we were at least fifteen feet below them, and only our backs
were visible. Cat-Kaspar took advantage of his opportunity. While we
were heaving at the stone, shoulder to shoulder, he kept bandying
coarse jokes with those above, and in the intervals addressed me in
rapid, broken sentences.

"Will you join us.--never have such another chance--two fellows at
least, such as you and I, must take it in hand--there are ten more of
them--but two must begin--no one has the courage but myself--and you
too, I hope--to-morrow is the last day--through the gate across the
bridge over the rampart to the outer harbor at the strand--only follow
me--I'll bring you through--if any one offers to stop us, kill him--the
scoundrel Süssmilch first of all. If you betray us----"

"Work, and stop gabbling!" called out the sergeant.

"I can do no more!" said Cat-Kaspar, throwing down his crowbar.

He had gained his object, and had no desire to expend his strength
further, at no advantage to himself.

"Come out!" ordered the sergeant, well pleased to have been right, and
indeed doubly right, since the two strongest men of the gang had
not been able to accomplish what Cat-Kaspar had undertaken to do
single-handed.

Order was restored, and the work proceeded as usual. I did the work of
two, to conceal the excitement into which the assassin's words had
thrown me. His plan at once seemed tolerably plain, and I comprehended
it thoroughly when I found an opportunity to take a look around from
the highest point of the site from which one could see over the wall.
Immediately adjoining the place where we were working was a gate in the
wall, which during the progress of the work was frequently used, and
the key to which the sergeant carried in his pocket. A short bridge,
which had in the centre a gateway defended by _chevaux-de-frise_,
led from the gate over a wide moat which in former times had been
the town-fosse, as our prison-wall had once been part of the
town-wall. Beyond the moat was a high bastion, with a walk shaded with
walnut-trees at its foot, and on it stood two cannon, but I had never
observed any sentry near them. To the right of the bastion was a much
lower rampart, over which from my position it was easy to see; and
beyond this I caught sight of the pennons of ships, which must be in
the outer harbor of which Cat-Kaspar had spoken. Between the pennons
glittered a bit of blue sea; indeed I could catch a glance of the
island beyond, whose low chalk-cliffs shone bright in the sunset.

I had seen enough, and hastened to descend in order to awake no
suspicion. The evening-bell rang, our work was over for the day; with
the sergeant at my side I retraced the now familiar way by the garden,
past the house to my cell.

This night no sleep visited my eyes. All night long I revolved in my
mind the possibilities of flight. That Cat-Kaspar's plan was feasible,
I was now convinced; and equally so that this cunning, bold fellow was
the very man to carry it out. The place could not have been better
chosen; a high bastion, an outer harbor with ships and boats, a
deserted strand beyond, and over there the island, which I could reach
in any event by swimming. Once there, I knew now how to get away, and
how easily it could be done. My clothes were still in the old woman's
keeping, and there also were my gun and my game-bag. Then farewell
preliminary detention and imprisonment; farewell judges and counsel,
superintendents and turnkeys! I should be a free man and could mock you
all--and you too, worthy citizens of my native town, who had dealt so
generously with me, and my father--well, my father might look to it how
he reconciled to his conscience his treatment of a son whom his
severity had driven from his house, whom he and he alone had made a
criminal.

I had not been a criminal yet, but I knew that I should soon be one;
indeed I felt myself one already. I even now felt the taint of my
associations with Cat-Kaspar. It was plain enough that without real and
deep crime--without _murder_--our plan could not be executed. The
sergeant kept the keys of the gates in his pocket, and he was not a man
to yield, especially in such a case. Then the other two overseers were
there, who were clearly no chicken-hearts. The three would resist as
long as life was in their bodies. They must be despatched at the very
first attack, in order that terror should be added to confusion, if our
flight was to succeed.

I sprang up from my bed with a wildly-beating heart. Cat-Kaspar counted
on my assistance first of all, and he was right; unless we two began
the attack simultaneously, there was no chance of success; one man
alone would have none to second him; so one of the guards, probably the
sergeant, must fall by my hand.

By my hand--how easy it was to think and to say this; but would not my
courage fail me at the moment? True, I had fired at the officer in the
moor, but then not only my own liberty, but that of my protector,
benefactor, and friend was at stake, and thankful had I been that my
bullet went astray. Now my associate was not the man I so loved and
admired, but Cat-Kaspar; the thing to be done now was not to fire a
pistol at a dark figure that suddenly springs up threatening in the
way, but to perpetrate a deliberate murder; it was to kill a
comparatively unarmed man with a spade, a pick, or a crowbar, or the
first tool that came to the murderer's hand. And I had done everything
in my power to hate the man, and could not do it. Through all his
roughness there shone so much genuine kindness, that it often seemed to
me that he had put on this prickly garb because he knew how soft he was
by nature. If my relations to him were none of the best, whose fault
was it but mine who had so rudely repulsed all his advances? He had not
retaliated; he had never wavered in his rough but sincere good-will; if
I overlooked his surly fashion of speech, he had treated me, not as a
keeper his prisoner, but as an old faithful servant, who can take many
liberties, might treat a young master who has behaved badly, and who
has been entrusted to him to bring back to reason. Often during the
work I found his clear blue eyes looking at me with a strange
expression as if he were saying constantly to himself: "Poor youth!
poor youth!" and as if he would like to throw down his measuring-rod,
seize my pick, and do the work in my place. Once or twice he had said,
as we were returning from work, "Well, hasn't one had enough of it
yet?" and again, "One shouldn't be too obstinate and grieve the captain
so." (The sergeant never called his former officer the "superintendent,"
except where it was absolutely necessary.) "How grieve the captain?" I
asked. "One will not understand it," the old man replied, and looked
quite sad and dejected.

I would not understand it--he was right in that.

But does any one understand less because he pretends unconsciousness?
Whatever the reason might be that drew the superintendent's sympathy to
me and my fate, I could not close my eyes to the fact that this
sympathy existed, and that it was expressed in the sincerest, in the
most winning manner, I still heard his words and the tone in which they
were spoken, a tone which so vividly brought back to my memory the
voice of the man who had been and still was my hero. The oftener I saw
the superintendent--and I saw him nearly every day--the more I was
struck by his resemblance to his unfortunate brother. It was the same
tall form, but toil and sickness, and probably grief and care, had
broken down the proud strength; it was the same noble face, but nobler
and gentler; the same great dark eyes, but their looks were more
earnest and sad. Even when his lips were silent, these eyes greeted me
with kindness; and in this frightful night, while I was struggling with
the tempter, I saw them still, and their soft sad looks seemed to ask:
"Have you a heart to plan such a deed?--a hand to execute it?"

But I will, I must be free! my spirit cried out. What care I for your
laws? If you have brought me to despair, you can only expect from me
the actions of a desperate man. From my school here--from one prison to
another! I shook off one tyranny because I found it intolerable; should
I patiently bear this which oppresses me so much more heavily? Shall I
not meet force with force? What would the Wild Zehren do were he alive
and knew that his dearest friend was here in a dungeon? He would strive
to set me free, though he had to burn down the prison or even the town,
as those faithful fellows did, who delivered his ancestor! What he
would do and dare, that would I. At the worst it could but cost my
life; and that life should be thrown away when it was no longer worth
having--the Wild Zehren had taught me that.

Thoughts like these agitated me as if a hell had been let loose in my
breast. Even now, after so many years, now when with a joyous and
innocent heart I feel grateful for every sun that rises bringing me
another day of earnest work and calm happiness--even now my heart
palpitates and my hand trembles as I write these lines, which bring so
vividly before me the terrors of that night, and of the time when I
sought for any means of escape from the labyrinth in which I wandered
in despair.

Let no one cast a stone at me that I strayed so far from the right
path. Well for thee, be thou who thou mayst, whose brow falls into
severe judicial folds upon reading this--well for thee if the happy
temper of thy blood has preserved thee from the blind fury of raging
passions, if a judicious education has early given thee a clear view of
life, and kindly smoothed thy path before thee. Then thank thy
beneficent stars that have granted thee all this, and perhaps kept thee
from going widely astray. For when is this not possible? It is a peril
to which all are exposed. Then devoutly pray that thou mayst not be led
into temptation, that no such night may come to thee as that through
which I suffered; a night in which it is not only dark without, but
within; a night which, when thirty years have passed, you will still
shudder to think of.

When the dawning light entered my cell, it found me with burning
temples, and shivering with chill. I probably looked pale and haggard,
for the sergeant's first word when he saw me was, "Sick: no work
to-day."

I was sick; I felt it but too plainly. I had never felt thus in my life
before. Was this the hand of fate, I thought, which forbade our
designs? If I did not go to work to day, the attempt would not be
made. Cat-Kaspar reckoned on my strength, courage, and decision. My
example--the example of one who was to a certain extent a volunteer,
and whom they all felt to be their superior--must exert an irresistible
influence upon them. Cat-Kaspar fully calculated upon this, and he
neither could nor would venture without me.

"No work to-day," said the sergeant. "Look as miserable as a cat.
Overdid it yesterday. Not got seven senses like a bear."

This last mysterious phrase--a favorite one with the sergeant--was
beyond my comprehension; but its meaning could only be a friendly one,
for his blue eyes rested upon me as he spoke with an expression of
sincere solicitude.

"Not at all," I said. "I think I shall feel better out of doors: the
prison air does not suit me."

"Doesn't suit anybody that I know of," growled the sergeant.

"And me first of all," I said; "so badly that I have a strong
inclination to go away pretty soon."

I looked the old man fixedly in the eye. I wanted him to read my
intention in my looks. But he only smiled and replied:

"Not many would stay if all went that wanted to--Would go away myself."

"Why do you not?"

"Been with the captain now five-and-twenty years. Stay with him till I
die."

"That may happen any day."

Again I looked at him steadily in the face. This time the expression of
my look struck him.

"Look like a bear with seven senses. Got a robber-murderous-gallows
look,"[5] said he.

"What I am not, I may be yet," I said; "what if I were to throttle you
this moment? I am thrice as strong as you."

"No stupid jokes," said the sergeant. "Not a bear; and an old soldier
is no toothpick."

In this way the worthy Herr Süssmilch disposed of the matter. As I
would neither remain in my cell nor see the prison-doctor, we started
for the work-place.

On the way I had to stop more than once, for everything grew dark
before my eyes, and I thought that I was about to die. The same
sensations returned several times during the day, which was unusually
hot. A fierce fever was raging in my veins, a terrible malady was
swiftly coming on me, or indeed had already come.

Dr. Snellius said to me afterwards, and indeed repeated the remark to
me but a few days ago, over our wine at table, that he cannot to this
day understand how a man in the condition in which I must have been,
could not only remain upon his feet all day long, but do hard work. He
said it was the strongest proof he had ever met, of how far an intense
will could prevail _contra naturam_, against the course of nature. "To
be sure," he added, clapping me on the shoulder, "only blacksmiths can
do it; tailors die in the attempt."

How dreadfully I suffered! When the dream-god has a mind to play me a
malicious trick, he places me in a deep excavation into which pour the
rays of a pitiless sun; he claps a pick into my hand, with which I
smite furious blows upon a soil hard as rock, but the soil is my own
head, and every blow pierces to my brain; and then he fills the
excavation with fiends in the shape of men, who are all working like
myself with picks or with spades, shovels and barrows, and these fiends
have all flat, brutal faces and evil eyes that they keep fixed upon me,
giving me signs of intelligence and readiness for the devilish work I
am to do. And among them rises from time to time a head that has eyes
more evil than all the rest, and the head opens its horrible mouth to
yawn, and from the distended jaws come the words: "Sunset soon--ready,
comrade--I take Rollmann, you sergeant--smash skulls!"

But the most dreadful part is to come.

It is half an hour before sunset. In half an hour the bell will ring to
stop work. This is the last day; the excavation is done and the
foundation-stones are brought. Tomorrow regular masons will take the
work in hand. Some of the convicts will help them, but others will be
employed elsewhere; it is the last evening on which the eleven of whom
I am to be the twelfth will be together. Now or never is to be the
time, and the signal has been already given.

Cat-Kaspar commences a dispute with his neighbor, in which the others
join, one by one. The quarrel gets hot; the men appear to grow furious;
while the overseers, with the sergeant at their head, endeavor to
separate them, and threaten them with solitary confinement on bread and
water for such unheard-of insubordination. The rioters pay no
attention; from words they come to blows, and pushing and striking,
they get into a confused mêlée, into which they endeavor to involve the
overseers.

This prelude has lasted but a few moments, and it can be continued no
longer, lest the unusual noise should bring other officers upon the
spot, and so the whole plan be defeated.

Whether I was drawn into the mêlée, or whether I sprang into it
voluntarily, I cannot say--I find myself in the midst. I do not know if
I am helping the overseers to drag the men apart, or if I am trying to
increase the confusion; but I shout, I rave, I seize two by their necks
and hurl them to the ground as if they were puppets; I behave like a
madman--I am really mad, though neither I nor the rest know it; even
Cat-Kaspar does not perceive it, but rushes up to my side and shouts:
"Now, comrade!"

At this instant I see a man of tall stature emerge from the garden-gate
and hasten towards us. It is the superintendent. A maiden of about
fifteen, of whose slender figure I have more than once caught a glimpse
through the garden-gate, holds him by the hand, and seems to endeavor
to detain him, or else to share the danger. Two boys appear at the
gate, and hurrah loudly; they have no idea of the terrible seriousness
of the affair.

The tall superintendent confronts us. He draws his left hand gently
from the hand of the maiden and presses it upon his weak chest, which
is laboring with the exertion of his rapid walk. The other hand he has
raised to command silence, as he is not yet able to speak. His usually
pale cheeks are suffused with a feverish glow; his large eyes flash, as
if they must speak, since his lips cannot.

And the raging, furious crew understand their language. They have all
learned to look up in reverence to the pale man who is always grave and
always kind, even when he must punish, and whom no one has yet known to
punish unjustly. They are prepared for everything except this, that at
the last moment this man should confront them. They feel that their
plan has failed: indeed they abandon it.

One does not. One is resolved to win the game or lose all. In truth, is
not the chance now better than ever? Let yonder man once lie prostrate,
who or what could restrain him and the rest?

Giving a yell more horrible than ever issued from the throat of the
fiercest beast of prey, he swings high his pick and rushes upon the
superintendent. The maiden throws herself before her father. But a
better defender is still swifter than she. With one bound he springs
between them and seizes the miscreant's arm. The pick, in descending,
grazes his head, but what is that to the torments that have been raging
in it for hours?

"Cursed hound!" roars Cat-Kaspar, "have you betrayed us?" and swings
his pick again, but has hardly raised it when he is lying upon the
ground, and on his breast is kneeling one to whom the delirium of fever
has now given the strength of a giant, and whom in this moment no
living man could resist.

In a moment it is all over. For an instant he sees the horribly
distorted face of Cat-Kaspar--he feels hands striving to wrench his
hands from the man's throat, and then a black night swallows up all.



                              CHAPTER IV.


A black night which is but a long, long continuation of the dreadful
dream, until at last it is broken by rare gleams of soft, dim light, at
which the forms of fear grow faint and give way to more friendly
shapes. These also melt into deep night, but it is not the old terrible
gloom, but rather a blissful sinking into happy annihilation; and
whenever I emerge from it the figures are clearer, so that I sometimes
now succeed in distinguishing them from each other, whereas at first
they melted indistinguishably into one another. Now I know that when
the long gray moustache nods up and down before my face, there is
always an honest, good-natured old mastiff there, who growls out of his
deep chest; only I never get sight of the mastiff, and sometimes think
that it is the long gray moustache itself that growls so. When the
moustache is dark, I hear a soft voice, the sound of which is
inexpressibly soothing to me, so that I cannot refrain from happy
smiles, while when I hear the mastiff I would laugh aloud, only I have
no body, but am a soap-bubble which floats out of the garret-window in
my father's house, into the sunny air, until two spectacle-glasses
which have no moustache, are reflected in it. These spectacle-glasses
perplex me; for although they never have a moustache, they are
sometimes blue, and then they are a woman; but when they are white they
are a man and have a creaking voice, while the blue glasses have the
softest voice--softer even than that of the dark moustache.

I cannot make out how all this is, and puzzle myself over it until I
fall asleep, and when I awake some one is leaning over me who has a
dark moustache and brown eyes, and exactly resembles some one that I
know, although I cannot recall where and when I have seen him. But I
feel both glad and sad at the sight of this unknown acquaintance, for
it seems to me that I owe him boundless gratitude for something--I know
not what. And this feeling of gratitude is so strong that I draw his
hand, which he has laid upon mine, very slowly and softly, for I have
little or no strength, to my lips, and close my eyes, from which happy
tears are streaming. I have something to say, but cannot recall it, and
fall to thinking it over, and when I again open my eyes the form is
gone, and the room vacant and filled with a dim light, and I look
around in surprise.

It is a moderately-large, two-windowed room; the white window-curtains
are pulled down, and on them I can see the shadows of vine-branches
waving to and fro. I watch the motion with delight; it is an image of
my thoughts that float and waver thus without being able to fix
themselves on any point. I look again into the room, and my eyes find
an object on which they rest. It is a picture which hangs directly
opposite to me on a plain light-gray wall; it represents a young and
beautiful woman with a child in her arms. The eyes of the young mother,
who is calm and almost sad, as though she were pondering over some
wondrous mystery, are mild and gentle; while those of the boy, under
his full brow, have a dignity beyond his years, and look out into the
far distance with an air of majesty as if their glances comprehended
the world.

I can scarcely turn my eyes from the picture. My admiration is pure and
artless; I have no knowledge of the original; I do not know that it is
an exquisite copy in crayons of the most celebrated painting of the
Master of masters; I only know that never in my life have I seen
anything so beautiful.

Under this picture hangs a little _étagère_ with two rows of
neatly-bound books. Under the _étagère_ stands a bureau of antique form
with brass handles, and on it lie drawing-materials, and, between two
terra-cotta vases, a little work-basket with ends of red worsted
hanging over its edge.

Between the windows and the bureau, evidently set on one side, is an
easel, upon which is a drawing-board with the face inwards; and on the
other side of the door a cottage piano, the upper part of which has a
peculiar, lyre-shaped figure.

I do not know what it is that suddenly brings to my mind Constance von
Zehren. Perhaps it is that the lyre-shaped instrument reminds me of a
guitar; and indeed this must be the reason, for in nothing else does
the room bear any resemblance to Constance's. As there all was neglect
and confusion, here all is orderly and cheerful; no torn threadbare
carpet covers the white floor upon which the windows throw squares of
sunlight, and the shadows of the vine-branches play, but fainter than
upon the curtains. No, I am not at Castle Zehren. In all that castle
there was no apartment like this, so bright, so cheerful, so clean; and
now I remember Castle Zehren is burnt down--to the very ground, some
one told me--so I cannot be at Castle Zehren; but where am I, then?

I turn my eyes to the beautiful young mother of the picture, as if she
could answer me; but looking at her, I forget what it was that I had
intended to ask. I have only the feeling that one can sleep peacefully
when such eyes are watching him; and I wonder that the fair boy does
not rest his head upon the shoulder or the bosom of his mother, close
his great thoughtful eyes, and sleep sweetly--oh! so sweetly!

The long sweet sleep wonderfully strengthens me. When I awake, I at
once raise my head, rest myself upon my elbow, and stare with surprise
at the brown furrowed face, the blue eyes, the great hooked nose, and
the long gray moustache of Sergeant Süssmilch, who sits at my bed-side.

The old man, on his part, looks at me with no less surprise. Then a
pleasant smile shoots from the moustache through a pair of the deepest
furrows up to the blue eyes, where it stays and blinks and twinkles
joyously. He brings three fingers of his right hand to his forehead,
and says, "_Serviteur!_"

This comes so drolly from him that I have to laugh, for I can laugh
now, and the old fellow laughs too, and says, "Had a good nap?"

"Splendid," I answer. "Have I been sleeping long?"

"Pretty well. To-morrow it will be eight weeks," he replies cheerily.

"Eight weeks," I repeated, mechanically; "that is a long time;" and
thinking of this, I pass my hand over my head. My head was naturally
covered with very thick, curly, soft auburn hair, inclining to red; but
I now feel nothing but short bristles, as of a brush, a brush too in
which time has made considerable ravages.

"This is very strange," I said.

"Soon grow," said the sergeant, encouragingly. "Shaved me bald as a
turnip after this"--he pointed to a deep scar on his right temple,
running up into his thick gray hair, and which I now noticed for the
first time--"and yet I had a crop afterwards like a bear----"

"With seven senses," I added, and had to laugh at my own wit. It seems
that I have a child's head on my broad shoulders.

The old man laughed heartily, then suddenly grew serious and said:

"Now keep still, and go to sleep again like a----"

He did not finish his favorite simile, apparently in fear lest he
should set me to laughing again; but I laughed in spite of his
precautions, and while doing so pulled up the sleeve of my shirt, which
struck me as singularly loose. But it was not that the sleeve was
wider, but my arm thinner; so thin that I could scarcely believe it to
be mine.

"Soon get strong again," said the sergeant.

"I have been very sick, then?"

"Well," said he, "it was very near tattoo; but I always said: weeds
won't die," and he rubbed his hands with satisfaction. "Talk enough
now," he added, in a tone of authority. "Strict orders, when awake, to
allow no discussion, and report fact; which shall be done forthwith."

The sergeant is about rising, but I take one of his brown hands and beg
him to stay. I feel myself quite strong, I say; speaking does not
fatigue me at all, and of course hearing does not; and I should like to
hear how I came into this condition, who the persons are that have been
about me, and whose faces I have seen floating through the mist of my
dreams; and if there has not been a great good-natured mastiff that
guarded me, and had a way of growling deeply.

The old man looks at me attentively, as if he thought all was not yet
quite right under my bristly, half-bald skull, and that it was high
time he made his report. He placed my hand upon the coverlid, and said,
"So! so!" smoothes the pillow, and again says, "So! so!" so to please
him I shut my eyes and hear how he rises softly and goes away on
tiptoe; but the door has hardly closed behind him when I open my eyes
again, and apply myself resolutely to the task of solving the questions
which I had addressed to the old man.

As when we look down from a high mountain upon a sea of mist, we note
bright points emerging, one by one--a sunlit corn-field, a cottage, a
bit of road, a little lake with grassy shores, until at last the whole
landscape lies plain before us, except a few spots over which gray
wreaths of vapor still float, which more slowly than the rest roll up
the ravines--just so before my mental vision dissolved the night of
oblivion which during my illness had covered the recent events of my
life. Now I again remembered that I was in prison and how I came there;
that the old man with the gray moustache was not my friend and nurse,
but my keeper; that I had had thoughts of killing him, if necessary, to
gain my liberty; and so everything that had happened, up to that last
frightful day; but that was confused and obscure--as confused and
obscure as it has ever since remained in my memory to this hour. Dark
and painful; but strange to say, this painful feeling was turned
exclusively against myself. The hate, the bitterness, the rancor, the
desperation, the frenzy--all the demons which had dwelt in my soul,
were gone, as though an angel with flaming sword--perhaps the Angel of
Death, who had hovered over me--had driven them away. Even the remains
of pain melted away in thankfulness that the most fearful of all had
been spared me--that I could look upon my white, wasted hands without a
shudder.

As I lay here, pondering these things, and my eyes rested upon that
fair young mother, who bore her boy so securely upon her strong,
faithful arm, my hands involuntarily folded, and I thought of my own
mother so early lost--far too early for me--and how all would have
happened differently if she had ever encircled me with her protecting
arms; if in my young sorrows and doubts I could have sought refuge,
counsel, and consolation upon her faithful breast. And I thought too of
my father, who was so lonely now, whose hopes I had so cruelly
blighted, whose pride I had so deeply wounded; and I thought of him for
the first time without animosity, with only a feeling of deepest pity
for the poor old forsaken man.

"But he will live," I said to myself, "and I am not dead; and all shall
be well again. No, not all. The lost past cannot be recalled; but the
future still is mine, even in a prison."

In a prison. But was this a prison in which I was?--this pleasant room
with windows barred only by nodding vine-branches; a room in which
everything spoke of the peacefully cheerful life of its fair
inhabitant.

How I came to this idea I do not know, but I could not rid myself of
it; and there were the ends of red worsted hanging from the little
work-basket. What had a workbasket to do in the room of a man?

I thought and thought, but could arrive at no conclusion; the streak of
mist would not move. Indeed it rather widened and spread to a thin
veil, which threatened gradually to envelope the whole prospect. I did
not care; I had seen it once and knew that I should see it again; knew
that I should hear the voices again which now fell faintly on my ear as
if from a vast distance, among which I could distinguish the muttered
growl of my faithful mastiff, and the soft voice that accompanied the
eyes whose gentle light had shone through my darkness.

When I again awaked, it was really night, or at least so late that the
little astral lamp by my bedside was already lighted, and by its feeble
glimmer I saw some one sitting by my bed whom I did not recognize, as
his head was hidden in his hand. But when I moved, and he raised his
head and asked, "How are you now?" I knew him at once. The low gentle
voice I would have recognized among a thousand. And now, strangely
enough, without having to give a moment's thought to the matter, but
just as if some one had told me everything in my sleep, I knew that the
house in which I had been for the last eight weeks, and in which I had
all this time been tended as carefully as if I had been one of the
family, was the house of the superintendent, of the man who certainly
not to-day for the first time was watching by my bed, and who spoke to
me in a tone of affection, as might a kind father to his son.

Leaning over me, he had taken my hand while he went on speaking; but I
could only half hear his words for another voice that cried out within
me, loud and ever louder, in the words of Scripture: "I am not worthy!"

I could not silence this voice. "I am not worthy!" it continually
cried, until at last I exclaimed aloud: "I am not worthy!"

"You are, my friend," said the soft voice; "I know that you are, even
though you know it not yourself."

"No, no, I am not," I said, in great agitation. "You do not know whom
you are caring for; you do not know whose hand you are holding in
yours."

And now, following that irresistible impulse which urges every nature
that is upright at heart to refuse at all hazards gratitude which it is
conscious of not deserving, I confessed my grievous fault; how I had
been resolved to run every risk to gain my liberty; that I had not, it
is true, invited the overtures of the ruffian, but nevertheless had
permitted them; how I had known of the plot and of the hour when it was
to be carried out, and that I did not know why in the last moment the
courage to do my part in it had failed me so that I turned my hand
against the man whom I had voluntarily admitted as my comrade, and
whose accomplice I must necessarily consider myself.

The superintendent allowed me to speak to an end, only retaining with a
gentle pressure my hand, whenever I attempted to withdraw it. When I
ceased speaking, he said--and even now, after so many years, on awaking
in the night, I fancy I hear his voice:

"My dear young friend, it is not what our fancies, intentions, desires,
represent to us as possible or even necessary, not what we believe we
can do or ought to do, not what we have resolved to do, but it is what
at any given moment we really do, that makes us what we are. The coward
believes himself a hero until the moment of trial convicts him of
cowardice; the brave man fancies that he will prudently avoid all
perils, and plunges headlong into danger as soon as a cry for help
reaches his ear. You believed yourself capable of lifting your hand
against a defenceless man, and when you saw him attacked by a murderer,
you sprang to his assistance. And do not say that you did not know what
you were doing; or if you really did not know, you were following the
irresistible promptings of your nature, and were just at that moment
your real self. I and mine will evermore see in you the man who saved
my life at the peril of his own."

"You would make me out better than I really am," I murmured.

"Even were that so," he answered, "few have my opportunity for knowing
that the surest, often the only way to make a man better, is to take
him for better than he is. Would to heaven that this secret of my craft
were always as easy of employment as with you. And if I can help, as I
joyfully trust I can, in refining the noble metal of your nature from
the dross with which it may yet be mingled; if I can help to enlighten
you in regard to yourself, to light up the path of your life which lies
but dark before you, and from which you believe you have--and perhaps
really have--wandered; in a word, to make you what you can be, and
therefore ought to be--that would be but dealing you out justice in
return for the sharp injustice which has brought you here; and I might
thus repay the debt of gratitude which I owed you before you set foot
in this house, let alone before you preserved for my children their
father's life."

The soft light of the lamp fell upon his beautiful pale face, which
seemed to beam upon me with mild radiance like a star out of the
surrounding gloom; and his gentle voice came to my ear like the voice
of some good spirit that in the stillness of the night speaks to some
needy and stricken soul. I lay there without moving, without turning my
eyes from him, and softly begged him to speak on.

"It is perhaps selfish in me to do so," he said, "if I now seize the
moment when your soul awakes to fresh life, and is disposed to look
with trusting child-like eyes upon the world it has regained, to teach
you to know me, and, if possible, to love me, as I know and love you--I
repeat it, not now for the first time. I knew you before you came here.
You look at me with surprise, and yet nothing could be more simple. I
always deeply loved my eldest brother, although in reality we only
passed our childhood and boyhood together, and were then separated,
never again to associate, nor indeed even to see each other, for the
last fourteen years. For, whatever the world and his passions may have
made of him, his was originally the fairest, noblest, bravest soul that
ever was bestowed upon man. You can imagine what a blow to me was the
news of his death; with what painful care I strove to learn everything
connected with his death and its cause; how eagerly I seized an
opportunity that offered to read the reports of the trial in which the
name and actions of my unfortunate brother figured so conspicuously,
and in which you were yourself so unhappily involved. From these
reports I first learned to know you, I have long been accustomed to
inspect reports of this kind, and know how to read between the
lines of the text. Never was this skill more necessary to me than in
this case; for never has the juristic understanding--or rather
imbecility--divested of all psychological insight, committed grosser
wrong than in your case; never did the hand of a dauber produce from an
easily-outlined, sun-clear, youthful face, a more hideous caricature in
black upon black. In almost every feature with which the accusation
furnished it, I thought I could perceive and prove exactly the
contrary. And had it not been my dearly-loved brother whose fault you
were to expiate--if the whole trial had been foreign to me, instead of
touching me nearly, and in a thousand painful ways, I would have made
your cause my own, and tried to save you, if in my power. But I could
do nothing for you; I could only exert all my influence to have you
brought here instead of to N., where it was originally intended to send
you.

"You came, I saw you as I had pictured you to myself; I found you just
as I had thought. There may have been some apparent difference, but
that was not the youth who, to rescue my brother, had rushed upon ruin;
who had given himself up to justice that men might not say his father
was his accomplice; who during the trial had knowingly damaged his own
cause by obstinately refusing all information implicating others; whose
manly candor in all other points would have touched any heart but the
shriveled heart of a man of acts and processes. This was a man who had
been wronged under the forms of law, whose clear soul had been darkened
by the gloom of a dungeon.

"It was worthy of you that you attempted no concealment of your feeling
of hatred, that you proudly rejected what was offered you here, which
others would have greedily seized. Let me be brief The malady that had
been so long incubating, which nothing but your unusually strong
constitution was able to withstand so long, at last declared itself. In
the frenzy of your disturbed mind you wished to show: 'This is what you
have made out of me!' and the result showed that you had remained what
you always were. You were carried away for dead from the place; a
physician hastily called in gave some hope, but said that only the most
unremitting care could save you. Where could you receive that care but
here? Who could more faithfully watch over your life than he who owed
you his own? What, in such a case, were to me the rules of the house,
or the talk of men? We carried you into the first room, which happened
to be the best for our purpose. We--that is, my wife, my daughter, who
is older than her years, the faithful old Süssmilch, the physician,
whom you will learn to love as he deserves, and myself--we have fought
faithfully and bravely with the death that threatened you; and the
women wept, and the men shook each other by the hand when your strong
nature triumphed over its enemy, and the physician said to us--a week
ago--'He is saved.' And now enough; perhaps too much for to-day. If
from our conversation you have received the impression, and will bear
it with you into your sleep, that you are among friends that love you,
that is all I wish. I hear Süssmilch coming; I wanted to relieve him
to-night, but he says he cannot leave his prisoner. And now good night
and good rest."

He passed his hand softly over my brow and eyes, and left the room. My
soul was filled with his words. No man had ever spoken to me like this.
Was it really myself? Had my gloomy soul departed during my long
sickness, and given place to a purer, brighter spirit? Be it as it
might, it was sweet--almost too sweet to last. But I would keep it as
long as I could, as one holds fast the refrain of some lovely melody. I
did not move, I did not open my eyes, when I heard by a slight rustling
in the room that my faithful guardian was making his preparations for
the night.

How could I do otherwise than rest sweetly, so richly blessed; than
rest calmly, so faithfully guarded?



                               CHAPTER V.


In the shady garden, especially reserved for the use of the
superintendent and his family, there was at the farthest corner a
little garden-house, which stood upon the old city-wall, and in the
family rejoiced in the pompous name of _Belvedere_, because from it a
charming view might have been had, over the ramparts, of a large part
of the strait and a still larger part of the island, if one could only
have opened the windows. But the window-frames were very old, and
rotten and warped with age; the sashes were narrow, and the regular
pattern they once presented could scarcely now be discerned in the
small, lead-set panes of stained glass which had once belonged to an
adjacent chapel, now in ruins. The house was to a certain extent a
ruin, as the wood of which it was built had not entirely resisted for
so many years the influences of the sun, the rain, and the sea-breeze;
and it was in consequence but seldom used, far more rarely than the
space immediately in front of it, which was, in reality, the summer
residence of the family, where they passed the best part of the time in
fine weather.

This spot fully deserved their preference. On a level with the
garden-house and the crest of the wall, and thus considerably higher
than the rest of the garden, it was reached by a refreshing breeze from
the near sea, while but rarely did a ray of the noon sun pierce the
thick foliage of the old plane-trees that surrounded it. The spaces
between the trunks of these trees were filled up with the green wall of
a living hedge, which added to the cosy, secluded character of the
spot, and threw into bold relief the figures of six _hermæ_ of
sandstone. Two round pine tables, painted green, stood on either side,
with the needful chairs, and invited to work or to reverie.

Of the two persons who were sitting here one fine afternoon in August,
about a fortnight after I had been able to leave my room, the one was
occupied--if day-dreaming may be called an occupation with the other;
while the other was really diligently at work. The dreamer was myself;
and a light covering, which, despite the warmth of the day, was thrown
across my lap, seemed meant to indicate that I was still a
convalescent, to whom dreaming is allowed and work forbidden; while the
other was a young maiden of about fourteen years, and her work
consisted in drawing a life-size head _à deux crayons_ upon a
sketching-board. During her work she frequently raised her eyes from
her sketching-board to me, and if I must name the subject of my dreams,
I must confess that it was these eyes of hers.

And indeed one did not need to be twenty years old, and a convalescent,
and in addition precisely the one upon whom these eyes were so often
fixed with that peculiar look at once decisive and doubtful, piercing
and superficial, which the painter casts upon his model--I say one did
not need to be either of these, let alone all three at once, to be
fettered by these eyes. They were large and blue, with that depth in
them which has a surface on which play every emotion of feeling, every
glancing light and passing shadow, and which yet remains in itself
something unfathomable. Once already, and that not so long before, I
had looked into eyes that were unfathomable, at least for me, but how
different were these! I felt the difference, and yet was not able
precisely to define it. I only knew that these eyes did not confuse and
disquiet me, did not kindle me into a flame to-day to chill me as with
ice to-morrow; but that I could gaze into them again and again as one
gazes into the clear sky, full of blissful calm, and no wish, no desire
awakens within us, unless it be the longing to have wings.

What possibly may have caused these large deep eyes of the maiden to
appear larger and deeper, was the circumstance that they were by far
the chief beauty of her face. Some said the only beauty; but I could
not at that time agree with this opinion. Her features were indeed not
perfectly regular, and certainly not at all what is called striking,
but there was nothing ignoble about them; on the contrary, all was
refined and full of character, at once bright and thoughtful, designed
in soft yet well-marked lines. Especially did this apply to the mouth,
which seemed to speak even when the lips were shut. And this bright,
intelligent, rather pale face was inclosed by two thick plaits of the
richest blond hair, which, as was then the fashion, commenced at the
temples and were carried under the ears to the back of the head--almost
too heavy a frame, one would have said, for the delicate head, which
was usually inclined a little forward or to one side. This attitude,
combined with her usual seriousness of expression, gave the maiden an
appearance of being several years older than she really was. But work
and care soon brush away the first lustre of youth; and she, though
hardly more than a child, knew what work was but too well, and over her
young life care had already cast its gloomy shadow.



                              CHAPTER VI.


At this moment, however, a smile played over her serious face. She
looked over her sketching-board at me and said: "You can get up, if you
wish."

"Have you finished?" I asked, availing myself of the permission, and
going behind her chair. "Why, you are still at work on the eyes. How
can you have so much patience?"

"And you so much impatience?" she asked in return, quietly going on
with her drawing. "You are just like our little Oscar. When he has
planted a bean, five minutes afterwards he digs it up again to see if
it has grown at all."

"But he is only seven years old."

"Old enough to know that beans do not grow so fast as that."

"You always find fault with Oscar, and after all he is your pet."

"Who says so?"

"Benno told me so yesterday, in strictest confidence. I was not to tell
you."

"Then you ought not to have told me."

"But he is right."

"No, he is not right. Oscar is the smallest, and therefore I must look
after him the most. Benno and Kurt can get along without me."

"Except their exercises, which you correct for them."

"Now take your seat again."

"I may speak, may I not?"

"Certainly."

I had taken my seat, but several minutes passed while I sat silently
watching her work. A ray of the evening sun, which pierced the thick
foliage of the great plane, fell upon her head and surrounded it with
an aureole.

"Fräulein Paula," I said.

"Paula," she answered, without looking up.

"Paula, then."

"Well?"

"I wish I had a sister like you."

"You have a sister."

"But she is so much older than I, and never cared much for me; and now
she of course will have nothing more to do with me."

"Where did you say that she lives?"

"On the Polish frontier. She has been married, these ten years, to an
officer in the customs. She has a number of children."

"Then she has enough to do with them; you must not be angry with her."

"I am not angry with her; I hardly know her; I believe I should pass
her by if I met her on the street."

"That is not well; brothers and sisters should hold together. If I
thought that ten or twenty years hence I should meet Benno or Kurt or
my little Oscar on the street and they would not know me, I should be
very unhappy."

"They would know you, even if fifty years had passed."

"I should be an old woman then; but I shall never be so old."

"Why not?"

"By that time the boys will have long been men, and will have wives and
children, and my father and my mother will long have been buried, and
what should I then do in the world?"

"But you will marry too."

"Never," she replied.

Her voice was so serious, and her great blue eyes that looked over the
board at my forehead, which she was then drawing, had so grave an
expression, that I could not laugh, as I at first felt disposed to do.

"Why?" I inquired.

"When the boys can do without me, I will be too old."

"But you cannot always go on correcting their exercises."

"I do not know; it seems to me as if I should always do it."

"Even when they are learning Latin and Greek?"

"I learn Latin with them now; why should I not learn Greek too?"

"Greek is so desperately hard; I tell you, Paula, the irregular
verbs--no human creature can learn them unless it be gymnasium
professors, and I never can believe that they are exactly men."

"That is one of your jokes, which you must not let Benno hear: he wants
to be a teacher."

"I think I will get that notion out of his head."

"Do not do so. Why should he not be a teacher if he has a liking for
it, and talent enough? I do not know anything more delightful than to
teach any one something which I believe to be good and useful to him.
And then it is a good position for one in Benno's circumstances. I have
heard it said that when one makes no great pretensions, he can soon
secure a modest sufficiency. My father, it is true, has other views: he
would like Benno to be a physician or naturalist. But these are
expensive professions to learn; and although my father always takes a
hopeful view--but I am not sure that he always does."

Paula bent her head over her sketching-board, and went on with her
drawing more assiduously than ever; but I saw that once or twice she
raised her handkerchief to her eyes. It gave me pain to see it. I knew
what anxiety, and that too well-founded, Paula felt for her father's
health, whom she loved devotedly.

"Fräulein Paula," I said.

She did not correct me this time--perhaps did not hear me.

"Fräulein Paula," I said again, "you must not cherish such gloomy
thoughts. Your father is not so ill: and then you would not believe
what a race the Zehrens are. Herr von Zehren used to call the
steuerrath a weakling, and yet he might take an undisputed place among
those who account themselves robust men; but Herr von Zehren himself
was a man of steel, and yet he once told me that his youngest brother
was a match for two like him. And you see a strong constitution is
everything, Doctor Snellius says, and so I say too."

"To be sure, if _you_ say so----"

Paula looked up, and a melancholy smile played about her beautiful
lips.

"You mean that a miserable scarecrow, such as I sit here, has no
business to be talking about strength?"

"O no; I know how strong you were before you were ill; and how soon you
would be strong again, if you would take proper care of yourself, which
you do not always do. For example, you ought never to be sitting here
without some wrappings, and you have let the coverlid fall off your
lap; but----"

"But----?" said I, obediently drawing up the coverlid over my knees.

"I mean that it is not quite right to say that a strong constitution is
everything. Kurt there is certainly the strongest of the boys, and yet
Oscar can read, write, and cipher as well as he, though Kurt is nine
years old, and Oscar only seven."

"But you see Oscar is your favorite."

"That is not kind of you," Paula said.

She said it gently and pleasantly, without a trace of offence, and yet
I felt the blood rush to my cheeks. I felt as though I had struck a
defenceless child.

"No, it was not at all kind," I said, with warmth; "it was a very
unfeeling speech; I do not know how I could say it. But clever boys
have always been held up to me as models, and the comparison always
carried with it so many disagreeable allusions to myself, that the
blood always rises to my head when I hear them talked about. It always
makes me think how stupid I am."

"You ought not to call yourself stupid."

"Well then, that I know so little; that I have learned so very little."

"But that is nobody's fault but yours--that is, supposing it to be
really the case."

"It is the case," I answered. "It is frightful how little I know. To
say nothing at all about Greek, which I maintain to be too hard, and
only invented by teachers on purpose to torment us, my Latin does not
amount to much, and that is certainly my fault, for I have seen how
Arthur, who I don't believe is a bit cleverer than I am, could get
along with it very well when he tried. Your English books, in which you
read so much, might all be Greek for me; and as for French--perhaps I
can still conjugate _avoir_ and _être_, but I doubt it. And yesterday,
when Benno could not get his exercises right, and asked me, and I told
him he must get them right himself--I don't mind telling you that I had
not the slightest notion how to begin them--and when he afterwards got
them right by himself, I felt shamed by a boy eleven years old; just as
I have felt ashamed before Dr. Busch, our professor of mathematics,
whenever, as he always did, he wrote under my work, 'Thoroughly bad,'
or 'Quite remarkably bad,' or 'Very well copied,' or some such
maliciousness."

While I thus remorsefully confessed my shortcomings, Paula looked
steadily at me with her great eyes, from time to time shaking her head,
as if she could not believe her ears.

"If this is really so----"

"Why do you always say 'if,' Paula? Little as I have learned, I have at
least learned to tell the truth, and I would never attempt a falsehood
with you."

The maiden blushed to her blond tresses.

"Forgive me," she said; "I did not mean to wound you; although I can
scarcely believe that you--that you spent so ill your time at school. I
only meant to say that you must make it good again; you must make up
for that lost time."

"Easily said, Paula! How am I to begin? Benno knows more French,
geography, and mathematics than I, and he is only eleven years old, and
next month I am twenty."

Paula pushed the drawing-board away from her upon the table, and leaned
her head upon her hand, apparently in order better to ponder over so
desperate a case. Suddenly she raised her head and said:

"You must speak to my father."

"What shall I tell him?"

"All that you have told me."

"He will not be able to help me either."

"He will, be sure. You do not know how much my father knows. He knows
everything--understands everything."

"That I well believe, Paula; but how can that help me? He can give me
no part of his knowledge, even if he were so kind as to wish it."

"True, he cannot do that; you must work yourself; but how to work the
best, and how to succeed the soonest, he knows, and will tell you if
you ask him. Will you?"

"Yes, I will; but----"

"No--no 'buts.' I am not to say 'if,' so you must not say 'but.' Will
you?"

"Yes."

As to utter this "yes" required some determination on my part, I spoke
it in a firm loud voice. Paula folded her hands and bent her head, as
if she were inwardly praying that my resolution might be blessed.
Everything was calm around; only a bird twittered, and the red
sunset-rays glanced through the twigs. It may have been a remnant of
weakness which still clung to me, but a strange and solemn feeling
possessed me. It was as though I were in a temple, and had just
pronounced a solemn vow by which I broke away from my entire past, and
devoted myself to a new life and to new obligations. And while thus
thinking I gazed with fixed eyes at the dear maiden, who sat still, her
hands folded, her thoughtful head bent--gazed until the tears came into
my eyes, and trees, sunlight, and maiden were lost behind a misty veil.

At this moment clear voices came ringing from the garden; it was
Paula's brothers, who had finished their task in the house, and now
were joyously hurrying to their favorite spot where they were certain
of finding their sister. Paula gathered up her drawing materials, and
was spreading a sheet of tissue-paper over her drawing, when the boys
came bounding up the hill at full speed to us.

"I am first!" cried little Oscar, springing into his sister's arms.

"Because we let you," said Kurt, jumping upon my knee.

"Let's see, Paula," said Benno, laying his hand upon his sister's arm.

Paula threw back the tissue-paper. Benno looked attentively at the
drawing, and then carefully compared it with the original. Kurt jumped
down from my knee to examine his sister's work too. Even Oscar stuck
his curly head from under her arm to see what was going on. It was a
charming group, the three boys clustered around the sister, now turning
their bright eyes upon me, and then fixing them on the picture.

"That is Uncle Doctor!" said Oscar.

Paula smiled and gently stroked the pretty boy's blond curls.

"You are silly," said Kurt; "he wears spectacles."

"It is well done, Paula," said Benno, with the air of a connoisseur.

"Do you think so?" she asked.

"Yes; only he is not so good-looking."

"Now you have all seen it," said Paula, in a tone of decision. "Benno,
carry it into the Belvedere."

"I will carry it!" said Kurt.

"No, I!" cried Oscar.

"Have you not heard that I am to carry it?" said Benno. "You are too
little."

"O yes, you are the big one!" said Kurt, scornfully.

"Hush, hush!" said Paula. "No disputes about it. He who is older is
bigger, and cannot help it; and he who is younger is smaller, and
cannot help it either."

"No, Paula," said Kurt, "that is not so, George is younger than father,
and bigger too."

"Here comes father," said Paula, "and mother with him; and now be
quiet."

The superintendent came up the path; his wife held his arm, and he was
leading her slowly. Her eyes were covered with a broad green shade.
Behind them, now on the left and now on the right side of the path,
turning his uncovered head first in one way and then in another, with a
hat and stick that he kept changing from hand to hand, came a short
compact figure with a disproportionately large head, whose perfectly
bald surface shone in the light of the evening sun.

This was Dr. Willibrod Snellius, resident physician and friend of the
family.

I had arisen, and advanced a few paces to meet them.

"How are you now?" asked the superintendent, giving me his hand; "has
your first long stay in the open air done you good?"

"We will ask about that early to-morrow morning--hm, hm, hm!" said the
doctor.

Doctor Snellius had a habit of accompanying his remarks with a peculiar
nasal sound which was half a grunt and half a snort, and always just an
octave below his ordinary voice, which was very thin and of an
unusually high pitch. This shrill voice was the trial of his life to
the doctor, who was a man of great taste; and by the deep, growling
sound he emitted from time to time, he strove, according to his own
explanation, to convince himself that he was really a man and not a
cock, as his voice would indicate.

"But you ordered it yourself, doctor," said the superintendent.

"Can I know from that that it will do him good?--hm, hm, hm!" said Dr.
Snellius. "It was a medicine like another. If I always knew what effect
my prescriptions would have, I would die Baron Willibrod Snellius of
Snelliusburg--hm, hm, hm!"

"Any one to hear you would think that all your science was mere
illusion," said Frau von Zehren, taking her seat upon a chair which
Paula had placed for her.

"You have certainly but slight reason to consider us wizards, _gnädige
Frau_!"

"Just because I do not so consider you, I do not expect from you what
is probably impossible."

Frau von Zehren removed the disfiguring shade and raised her eyes with
a look of thankfulness to the foliage of the trees which kindly
softened the daylight for them. How lovely must those eyes have been
while they were yet radiant with youth and happiness! How fair this
face before sickness had wasted its beauteous features, and far too
soon--for Frau von Zehren was hardly forty years of age--whitened the
luxuriant hair! Pale and wasted as she was, she was still beautiful--at
least to me, who, short a time as I had been near her, had already
learned her angelic goodness, and how with the inexpressible devotion
with which she clung to her husband and her children, her heart was
full of sympathy for all who suffered or sorrowed.

"We shall soon have a visit from your friend Arthur," said the
superintendent to me, drawing me a little to one side; "but I think you
said he had not dealt with you in the most friendly manner."

"He has not," I answered. "I should speak falsely to say otherwise. But
what brings him here?"

"He passed his examination at Easter, and is ordered to the battalion
stationed here, with the rank of ensign. We shall probably see his
parents also; and it may be the commerzienrath, if he condescends to
manage his affairs in person. The matter in question is the inheritance
of my brother, or so much of it as has thus far escaped the hands of
justice and of his creditors, among whom, as you know, the
commerzienrath holds the first place. The affair is rendered more
difficult from the fact that all his papers were destroyed when the
castle was burned. Constance has sent from Naples a formal renunciation
of the inheritance, and so there remain really only my brother and the
commerzienrath, as I for my part prefer to have nothing to do with the
whole affair; indeed I will add that if it were not a duty to meet with
dignity what is inevitable, I should look forward to the meeting with
great repugnance. What will not be brought up at such a conference?
What do you want, my child?"

Oscar must needs show his father an unlucky beetle that had run across
his path. I remained sitting in the garden-house, sunk in painful
reflection such as had not entered my mind since I had risen from my
bed of sickness. Arthur! Constance! Arthur, who had so cruelly turned
against me; Constance, who had so shamefully deceived me! The
steuerrath, whom I knew to have been the cowardly accomplice of his
brave brother; and the commerzienrath, who had traded in the
recklessness of the Wild Zehren, and, in all likelihood, had hastened,
if not brought about his ruin. What a tumult of emotions did not these
names arouse within me! How hateful appeared to me all my past, into
which these names and these persons were forever interwoven!--hateful
as the island even now appeared through a dingy sulphur-yellow pane of
the window at which I was standing. And now, as I turned away with a
sigh, my glance fell through the open door upon the space under the
plane-trees, filled with the pure bright evening light, and upon the
persons that were moving in it. The superintendent and the doctor were
walking, the latter first on the right and then on the left, and both
in animated conversation; the two eldest boys were playing about the
knees of their mother, who, sitting in her easy-chair, laughed and
sported with them; Paula had taken the tea-things from the maid, and
was setting the table, as they were about to take tea in the open air,
as was their custom in fine weather. How deftly she did it all; how
silently, that the gentlemen might not be disturbed in their
conversation, and that no clatter of plates should annoy her mother's
sensitive nerves! And how with it all she had time to chat with the
little Oscar, who kept close at her side, and to look if I was not
exposing myself too much to the wind! Yes, the bright peaceful present
was fairer than my dark stormy past; and yet it seemed as though a
shadow was cast across this also. If Arthur came here; if, as was to be
expected, he was received into the family as a kinsman; if, with his
plausible address, he wormed his way into the confidence of these
unsuspicious people, and won their favor with his insinuating
manners--if he, who as a mere boy had practised the wiles of the rake,
should dare--and his insolence would dare anything--to pay his
insidious court to Paula, his cousin! I must still have been very
weak, for I trembled at this thought from head to foot, and started
violently as I perceived some one coming up the garden path towards the
plane-trees. I thought for a moment it must be he whom I had once loved
so dearly, and now so hated.

But it was no dandy ensign glittering in his new uniform, but a lean
man dressed in black, wearing an extremely narrow white cravat, and a
low-crowned hat with very broad brim, and whose sleek dark hair,
unfashionably long, was seen, when he took off his hat in a polite
salutation, to be parted in the middle, and combed back behind his
ears. I knew the gentleman well; I had seen him often enough crossing
the prison-yard with slow pace and bowed head, entering this or that
cell, and after a while coming out again, always in the same attitude
of humility. Indeed I already enjoyed the happiness of a personal
acquaintance, as he had one day unexpectedly entered my sick-room, and
begun to talk about the welfare of my soul; and I should more
frequently have enjoyed this felicity, had not Dr. Snellius, who came
in, put a stop to it by giving him to understand that at the time the
question was not that of the welfare of my soul, but that of my body,
which was not likely to be benefited by such exciting topics. Indeed
this difference of opinion led to a rather lively dispute at the door
of my room, and, as it seemed, they came to pretty hard words; so that
it was clearly a proof of the placable disposition of the Deacon and
Prison-Chaplain Ewald von Krossow, that he now, after bidding the
family good evening, politely saluted the doctor, and even offered me
his hand.

"How are you, my friend?" he asked, in his soft voice. "But how can it
be other than well with you, since I find you still in the open air,
though it is already growing somewhat chilly. This is no impeachment of
your better knowledge, doctor. I well know that _præsente medico nihil
nocet_."

The doctor gave a scrape with his right foot, like a cock who is
preparing for battle, and crowed in his sharpest tones:

"It was unfortunate, then, that when Adam ate that unlucky apple, there
was no doctor by. The poor fellow would probably be living now. Hm,
hm!"

He glared wrathfully through his spectacles at the chaplain to see if
his shot had told, but the chaplain only smiled.

"Still sitting in the seat of the scorner, doctor?"

"I must stay where I am; I do not belong to those who are never
squeamish about pushing for a good place."

"But to those who are never at a loss for a sharp answer."

"Sharp only for souls as soft as butter."

"You know that I am a minister of peace."

"But you may change your service."

"And that it is my office to forgive."

"If you hold your office from above, probably the necessary
understanding for it has not been forgotten."

"Doctor!"

"Herr von Krossow."

This conversation was hardly meant for my ears, at least on the
chaplain's side, who spoke throughout, even to his last exclamation, in
the gentle, deprecatory tone of wounded innocence, and now, with a
pitying shrug of the shoulders, turned away and joined the others.

That game-cock, the doctor, whose antagonist had so unexpectedly
quitted the field, wore an air of blank surprise for a moment, then
burst into a hoarse crowing laugh, shook his arms like a pair of wings,
and turned suddenly to me, as if he felt the greatest desire to turn
his baffled pugnacity upon me.

"You would be acting more sensibly to go to your room."

"I have only been waiting for your orders."

"And now you have them; and I will see to their prompt execution
myself."

He took my arm and hurried me so rapidly away, that I had hardly time
to bid the company good-night. His ire had not evaporated: he snorted,
he grunted, he clicked with his tongue, and growled at intervals: "The
scamp--the scamp--the scamp!"

"You seem to have no very high opinion of our chaplain," I said.

"Don't you grow ironical, young man!" said the doctor, looking up at
me. "High opinion! high fiddlesticks! How can there be but one opinion
of such a fellow?"

"Yet the superintendent is always friendly to him."

"Because he is friendly to every one; and besides it does not occur to
him that this is not a man but a snake. Yes, that is easy enough to do,
when other honest folks are left to do the rudeness."

"That is no great trouble for you, doctor."

"Young man, I say, do not exasperate me. I tell you the thing is no
trifling matter; for if I cannot drive the fellow away, he will sooner
or later oust us all, and his kind friend the superintendent, the very
first. He has done you an ill turn already."

"Me?"

"Yes, you, the superintendent, myself. He would like well to kill three
birds with one stone."

"Tell me about it, doctor, I beg you."

"I would tell you without your asking. Sit down in your easy-chair and
make yourself comfortable: it is likely to be the last time you will
sit in it."

We had reached my room; the doctor pushed me into the easy-chair, while
he stood before me--sometimes on one leg, sometimes on the other, but
rarely on both at once--and spoke as follows:

"The case is simple, and therefore plain. To this pietistic,
aristocratic, beggarly mawworm, who has had himself appointed
prison-chaplain to let the light of his Christian humility shine before
men, the humanitarian superintendent and the materialist doctor are an
abomination. To a fellow like that, humanity is a democratic weakness,
and matter he does not respect, unless it is eatable. With the deceased
pastor Michaelis, a man of the good old rationalistic school, we lived
as if we were in paradise; he and Herr von Zehren, or rather Herr von
Zehren and he, in the twenty years that they worked together, made the
establishment what it is; that is, a model, in every sense of the word;
and during the five years that I have been here I have done all in my
power to imbue myself with the spirit of these men, and I believe that
I have indifferently well succeeded. Now for this half year, since
Michaelis is dead, and this pietistic snake has wormed himself into our
paradise, our peace has gone to the deuce; the snake crawls into every
corner, and leaves the track of his slimy nature wherever he goes. The
officers are demoralized, the prisoners mutinous. Such a plot as that
which Cat-Kaspar hatched--thank heaven we are rid of the rascal; he
is transferred to-day to N., where he ought to have been sent at
first--would formerly have been impossible. Cat-Kaspar was a pet of Mr.
Chaplain, who saw in him a precious, though not over-cleanly vessel,
whose purification was his allotted task; and he begged the scoundrel
out of the solitary confinement in which the superintendent had
judiciously placed him. So it goes on; divine worship _publice_,
prayers _privatim_, soul-saving exhortations _privatissime_. The Judas
intrigues against us wherever and whenever he can, flatters the
superintendent to his face, swallows down my rudeness, and thinks, 'I
shall have you both soon,' like the owl when he heard the two
bulfinches singing round the corner. And he thinks he has us by the
wings already. You know, the president of the council, who is just such
another mawworm, is his uncle, and uncle and nephew are hand and glove.
The president, who is the superintendent's immediate superior, would
have removed him long ago, if Minister von Altenberg, one of the last
pillars left standing from the good old times, and Herr von Zehren's
friend and patron, did not support him, though with but a feeble arm,
it is true; for Altenberg is advanced in years, in ill health, and may
die any day. In the meantime they work as they can, and collect
materials to be water to the mill of the next excellency. And now
listen: Assessor Lerch, my good friend, was with the president
yesterday. 'My dear Lerch,' said the president, 'you perhaps can give
me some information. There is another complaint against Superintendent
von Zehren.' 'Another, Herr President?' asked Lerch. 'Unhappily,
another. I have hitherto taken no action in these matters, though I
have not disregarded them; but this case is so flagrant that I must
take it in hand and report it to his excellency. Only think, my dear
Lerch, Von Zehren has been guilty of the--folly, I will call it, of
allowing the young man who gained such an unhappy notoriety in
connection with the smuggling case in Uselin----' and now it all comes
out that the superintendent, immediately after the catastrophe--out of
which the denouncer had spun a pretty story, you may suppose--did not
send you to the mouldy old infirmary, where you would infallibly have
died, but took you into his own house, kept you here, and still keeps
you, though you have been a convalescent for three weeks now; that he
associates with you as with his equal; that he has brought you into his
family, and indeed made you a member of it, so to speak. Why need I go
into all the particulars? hm, hm, hm!"

The doctor had crowed up to the very highest note of his upper
register, and had to grunt at least two octaves lower to obtain his
usual satisfactory reassurance.

"And you really hold that man as the denouncer?" I cried, angrily
springing from my chair.

"I know it. Would I otherwise have been so rude today?"

I could not help laughing. As if growler needed any special provocation
before he made free with the calves of an intrusive clodhopper! But the
affair had a serious side. The thought that Herr von Zehren, to whom I
owed such limitless gratitude, whom I so revered, should through me be
brought into so unpleasant a position, was intolerable.

"Advise me, help me, doctor!" I besought him earnestly.

"Yes, advise, help--when I always told you that this state of things
could not go on. However, you are so far right: the thing must be
helped. And in truth there is but one expedient. We must be beforehand
with the viper, and so for this time we shall draw his fangs. I know
the superintendent. If he had an idea that they wished to take you from
him, he would let his hand be hewn off before he would give you up. Now
this evening do you complain of headache, and again to-morrow evening
at the same time. Your room is on the ground-floor; at this moment
there is not another vacant. Intermittent--quinine--a higher, more airy
apartment--day after to-morrow you will be back in your old cell. Let
me manage it."

So I let Doctor Willibrod Snellius manage it; and two days later I was
sleeping, if not under lock and bolt, at least behind the iron gratings
of my old cell.



                              CHAPTER VI.


I stood behind these iron gratings on the following morning, and looked
sadly out of the window. Strangely enough, I had not thought the
evening before that these gratings could produce any unpleasant
sensations in me now, and yet such was the case. They served as a grave
reminder to me of what lately I had almost forgotten, that I was, after
all, a prisoner. "It makes no difference," the superintendent said,
when I took leave of him, and all had vied to make a family festival of
the last day that I was to spend under their roof; but be that as it
might, there _was_ a difference. My breakfast was not now as appetizing
as it had been when I sat at it under the high trees of the quiet
garden with Frau von Zehren and Paula; and even though I could go, if I
chose, into the garden, which seemed to give me a friendly greeting, I
must after a certain time return here again.

I looked around the cell, and now first remarked what pains they had
taken to make me forget where I was. There was the picture of the
Sistine Madonna with the child, which I had grown to love so during my
illness, and which was hung opposite my bed, just as it had hung in
Paula's room. There stood upon the bureau the same two terra-cotta
vases, and in each a couple of fresh roses. There was the easy-chair in
which Dr. Snellius had falsely predicted that I had sat for the last
time, and over the back hung a cover of crotchet-work on which I had
seen Paula engaged the previous evening. There hung the same _étagère_
with the same neatly-bound books; Goethe's _Faust_, Schiller's and
Lessing's works, which Paula had so often urgently recommended me to
read, and into which I had as yet hardly looked. They had done all they
could to make my prison as endurable, as pleasant as possible; but did
not the very pains they took show that it was a prison, and that the
episode of my apparent freedom was at an end. Yes, they had been kind,
inexpressibly kind to me, under the friendly smiling mask of Samaritan
compassion to one sick unto death--a mask that must be laid aside, as
soon as a Pharisee passed that way and looked askance upon the moving
sight. No, no; I was and remained a prisoner, whether my chains were
decked with roses or not.

Why had I not been able to break these chains? True, as I had begun, it
was impossible; but why did I begin so clumsily? Why did I not keep to
myself, calmly trusting in my own strength and my own craft, and in
some lucky chance that must have offered sooner or later? Now, as
things had happened, after I had incurred such a debt of gratitude to
these people, after I had grown so attached to them, I was twice and
thrice a prisoner. For the tempting pottage of friendship and love, I
had bartered the first inalienable birthright of man, which is the very
breath of his soul--the right of liberty. Seven years! Seven long, long
years!

I strode up and down my cell. For the first time since my sickness I
felt something of my former strength; it was but a remnant, but enough
to bring back a part of my old roving humor, of my old restlessness.
How would it be then when I felt myself all that I had ever been? Would
it not, combined with the knowledge that nothing held me but my own
will, drive me to frenzy? Would it not have been better if they had
left me in my old slavery, with the dream that some day I should be
able to break their bonds, even if this dream was never verified?

"Here is a young man who wants to speak with us," announced the
sergeant. Since my sickness when "we" had come through so much
together, he frequently used in speaking to me the same plural which he
employed with all who, in his opinion, had acquired an entire claim on
his honest heart; for example, the superintendent and all his family,
including the doctor, and now myself.

"What sort of a man!" I asked, while a joyous shiver ran through me. As
long as I had been in confinement this was the first time that any one
had come to see me; and somehow I connected the extraordinary event of
a visitor with the thoughts that had been passing through my mind.

"Looks like a sailor," answered the sergeant. "Says he has news of our
dead brother."

This sounded extremely improbable. My brother Fritz had been dead for
five years; he had fallen from the foreyard overboard one stormy night,
and was drowned. The ship had returned in safety; there was no mystery
of any sort connected with his death; and if any one now brought me
intelligence of his end, there must be some other purpose involved with
it.

"Can I speak with him, Süssmilch?" I asked, in the most indifferent
tone I could assume, while my heart seemed to rise in my throat.

"We can speak to whom we like."

"Then let him in; and, Süssmilch, if he is a sailor he would like a
glass of something; perhaps you could get me something of the kind?"

What superfluous trouble a man with an evil conscience gives himself
and others! I must needs lie, always a trial to me, to get the old man
out of the way; and the honest Süssmilch, who had not a thought of
being present at my interview with the stranger, had to go down two
flights of stairs into the cellar.

"But we mustn't touch a drop ourselves," said the old man, warningly.

"Have no fear."

He went, after first introducing the visitor--a broad-shouldered
deeply-bronzed man in sailor dress who was an entire stranger to me.



                              CHAPTER VII.


I gazed in mute astonishment at the stranger, whose looks and manner
were, to use the mildest expression, very singular; but was really
frightened when he, so soon as the door had closed behind the sergeant,
without a word and with the haste of a man completely out of his
senses, but still with the dexterity of a clown in a circus, began to
tear off his clothes, and to my utter amazement appeared in precisely
the same dress as that which now lay in its various elements at his
feet, while a triumphant smile disclosed two rows of the whitest teeth
in the world.

"Klaus!" I exclaimed, in joyous amazement.

The white teeth were now visible to the very last grinder. He seized
both my extended hands, but remembered at once that such friendly
manifestations did not belong to his part, and hurriedly whispered:

"Into them, quick! They will fit--folds will open out of
themselves--only quick before he comes back!"

"And you, Klaus?"

"I stay here."

"In my place?

"Yes."

"But they will find it out in five minutes."

"Still you have time to get out; and getting out and getting off is one
and the same thing to you."

"And do you suppose that you can do such a thing without being
punished?"

"At the worst, they can but shut me up in your place, and that will not
be for long. With the locks I can easily deal, and here"--he showed me
a watch-spring-saw, which he drew out of his thick hair--"with this I
will cut that grating through in a quarter of an hour."

"Klaus, all that cannot have come out of your own head."

"No, out of Christel's; but I beg you make haste."

I kicked the sailor-dress, which still lay upon the floor, under the
bed, for I heard the sergeant coming along the corridor. He knocked at
the door, and when I opened it, handed me a bottle of brandy and a
glass.

"But we are no bear, and won't drink a drop ourselves, will we?"

Klaus stared in astonishment when he saw the dreaded keeper turned into
so obliging an attendant.

I closed the door again, and then fell on the good fellow's neck. The
tears stood in my eyes.

"Dear, good Klaus," I cried, "you and Christel are the kindest hearts
in the world, but I cannot accept your generous offer. I would not have
accepted it under any circumstances; and as it is, it is not to be
thought of. I could go away from here at an moment, but I will not,
Klaus, I will not."

Here I embraced Klaus again, and gave free course to the tears which I
had been repressing. I felt as if now for the first time I knew what a
prisoner was, since I had declared that I wished to be one, and thus
made myself one of my own choice. Klaus, who naturally had no
conception of what was passing within me, constantly endeavored, while
casting uneasy glances at the door, to persuade me to let him take my
place; he would wager his head that he would be out in twenty-four
hours.

"Klaus, Klaus!" I cried, clapping him on the plump cheeks, "you want to
deceive me. Confess now, you have no expectation of getting out so
soon."

"Well, anyhow," he answered, very shame-facedly, "my wife thought----"

"Your wife, Klaus! your wife!"

"We have been married these two months."

I thrust Klaus into the easy-chair, sat down before him, and begged him
to tell me everything. It would be the greatest kindness he could do
me, I said, if he could tell me that all was going well with him; that
I was by no means in so evil a straight as he imagined in his true
heart of friendship; and I gave him in brief words a sketch of my
adventures in the prison, my attempt to escape, my illness, and my
friendly relations with the superintendent and his family.

"You see," I concluded, "that in every sense I am well taken care of;
and now I must know how things have gone with you and Christel, and how
you managed so soon to become man and wife. Only twenty-two, Klaus, and
married already! How do you expect to get on? And your Christel has let
you come away? Klaus, Klaus, I don't like the look of that."

I laughed at him, and Klaus, who now at last perceived that nothing
could come of his plan to rescue me, laughed also, but not very
heartily.

"There it is," said he. "How will she look when I come back without
you."

"'Without _thee_,'[6] I said, Klaus. I am not going to put up with any
breach of our old brotherhood now, or I shall think you too proud to be
on terms of _thee_ and _thou_ with a prisoner. And how will she look
when you come back without me?"

"There it is," said Klaus, "how will she, indeed! We are so happy; but
one or the other of us was always saying, 'and he is shut up there!'
and then there was an end of all our happiness, especially because in a
manner it is Christel's fault that you are here; for that morning at
Zanowitz----"

"Klaus," I interrupted him, "do you know then that for a while I
believed that Christel herself gave the information to get rid of your
father?"

"No," said Klaus, "she did not do that, thank God; though more than
once she was quite desperate and thought of killing herself."

He wiped his forehead with his hand; I had touched a painful subject.
We sat awhile without speaking, when Klaus commenced again:

"One good result it has had: 'he'"--Klaus had already adopted
Christel's habit of never calling 'him' by his name--"'he' of course
had to give up the guardianship of Christel, and as a person of damaged
reputation, could not interfere much with me. Aunt Julchen in Zanowitz,
with whom Christel stayed after that day, fitted Christel out, and we
might have lived like angels, if--" and Klaus, with a melancholy look at
me, shook his big head.

"And you are still in Berlin, in the commerzienrath's machine-shops?" I
asked, to give his thoughts another direction.

"Of course," he said, "I have been promoted already; I am now foreman
in my shop."

"And you earn plenty of money?"

"So much that we don't know what to do with it."

"Your Christel is an excellent housekeeper----"

"And washes and irons to that extent that our whole house smells of
nothing but soap and flat-irons."

Klaus showed his teeth; I pressed his hand in token of sympathy with
his happiness, though I had never been especially ravished by the
perfumes he so highly prized; but now more urgently than ever I desired
to know how this happy young pair ever made up their minds so cruelly
to risk their good fortune.

"I told you already," answered Klaus, "that we never were quite
happy. Wherever we went or stood, and above all when we were in
real good humor about anything, the thought always came up: if he
could only be here! And four weeks ago yesterday, when we had some
_Bierkaltschale_[7]--no, no, we could stand it no longer."

"Some _Bierkaltschale_?" I asked, in some surprise.

"Yes; don't you know how you always used to have some made for you at
the forge, in the summer-time, when you wanted to give yourself a
treat? Christel often made it for you. Well, then, just four weeks ago
we were drinking some--they have an excellent beer for it in Berlin,
much better than ours, that was always a little bitter--and I was
enjoying it, when Christel on a sudden let the ladle fall and began to
howl, and I knew at once what she was thinking of, and then I began,
and we kept on drinking and howling, and when we had finished, we both
said together: It can't go on this way! So then we put our heads
together----"

"As you did that evening when I met you on the heath?"

"And contrived a plan at last," continued Klaus, who would have turned
red at my indiscreet remark, had the color of his complexion allowed
it, "that is to say, Christel contrived it. She had read just such a
story, only the prisoner was a king's son, and his deliverer was a
knight, who disguised himself as a priest--of course that wouldn't do,
but a sailor would do, Christel said, for here in the workhouse there
was sure to be many a tarpaulin, and of course there would be some
coming to see them. And anyhow, Christel said, a sailor's dress was the
best disguise in a sea-port. So we practised the whole thing----"

"You practised it?"

"To be sure; it wasn't so easy; we went through it every night for a
week when I came home from work, until Christel said at last she
thought it would do at a pinch."

"It went capitally, Klaus!"

"Yes, but what good has it done?" asked Klaus, with a regretful look at
the bed under which the disguise was lying, "when I had my ears bored
to put these rings in? and when Christel every morning rubbed my face
with bacon----"

"With bacon?"

"I must look like a sailor from the other side, Christel said, and for
that there is nothing so good as to rub your face with bacon and then
scorch it at a furnace."

"You look like a mulatto, Klaus."

"So Christel said; but what good would it do if I looked like a negro,
when you won't come out?"

"It does this good, Klaus," I cried, catching the faithful fellow round
the neck, "that you two have given me one of the happiest moments of my
life, and which I should not have had had I taken your generous offer.
God bless you both for your love to me; and when I am free again and am
a rich man, I will repay it with interest. And now, my dear good
fellow, you must go; I have to go and see the superintendent. And do
you hear, Klaus, you go right back without wasting a minute. And one
thing more: if your eldest is a boy----"

"He is to be named George; we settled that some time ago," said Klaus,
showing his very farthest grinders.

I put Klaus out of the door, and was pacing up and down the room,
somewhat agitated by what had just passed, when I bethought me of the
disguise which I had pushed under the bed, and which, in our
excitement, we had quite forgotten. I now drew it out, and could not
resist the temptation to try on the jacket of rough cloth. It was as
Klaus had said. In the sleeves, the back, and the skirts, there were
folds so dexterously made and caught with stitches, that I had only to
give a smart pull and they came out; and although I was a head taller
and six inches wider across the shoulders than Klaus, the garment
fitted me as if it had been made for me. So was it with the waistcoat
and the trousers: all were so accurately made that--now that my illness
had left me much thinner than I had been--I could very conveniently put
them on over the clothes I was wearing.

Just as I had finished doing so, some one knocked at the door. It could
only be the sergeant or the superintendent, who usually came at this
hour. I seated myself at the table with my back to the door and called,
"Come in!"

It was the sergeant.

He thrust in his head and began: "We are to go to the captain at eleven
o'clock to-day, because----" here he checked himself, as it looked odd
that the strange sailor sat there so still and I was nowhere to be
seen. He came into the room and asked: "Where are we, then?"

"Gone to the devil!" I answered without turning round, imitating as
well as I could the broad _Plattdeutsch_ which Klaus had used as a part
of his stratagem.

"No stupid jokes!" said the old man.

"And now it is my turn!" I cried, rushing past the astonished sergeant
out at the door, which I flung to, and turned the key.

There lay the long corridor before me: not a soul was to be seen. It
was an easy thing to run down the steps and into the house-yard, and
from this by a side-gate which I knew was never closed at this hour, to
get into the adjoining alley. To find out Klaus's lodging would be an
easy matter; probably I should reach it before him--in ten minutes we
could be out of the town, and----

"Good morning, Herr Süssmilch, how are we?" I asked, opening the door
again.

The sergeant was standing just where I had left him; and to judge from
the confounded look of his honest face, had not been able to comprehend
what it all meant. I pulled off the broad-brimmed hat, made him a low
bow with a scrape of the right foot, and said: "Have the honor to place
myself again under your worshipful charge."

"After that, one can take a toothpick for a barn door!" exclaimed the
old man, who began now to get a glimmering of the real state of the
case. "That codfish of a smoke-dried flounder! Isn't it enough to turn
a body into a bear with seven senses?"

"Hush!" I cried, "I hear the doctor coming. Not a word, my good
Süssmilch!" and I pushed the old man out of the door, by which Doctor
Snellius entered in his usual hasty fashion, with his hat in his hand.
He started when he saw me, gave a glance round the room, looked at me
again, and went out without saying a word.

I pulled off my sailor-dress in a moment, thrust it under the bed, and
called after him in my natural voice:

"Why do you go away, doctor?"

He turned back instantly, came into the room, sat down upon a chair in
front of me, and stared steadily at me through his round spectacles. I
fancied he looked paler; and feared that perhaps I had carried the jest
too far, and offended my irascible friend.

"Doctor----" I began.

"Something very singular has just happened to me," he interrupted me,
always with the same fixed look.

"What is the matter, doctor?" I inquired, startled at his looks and the
unaccustomed gentleness of his tone.

"Nothing at this moment; but I have just been the subject of a most
remarkable hallucination."

"Of what, did you say?"

"A hallucination. A complete and perfect hallucination. When I first
entered your chamber, my friend, I saw, standing before me, a sailor of
just your height, or possibly an inch or an inch and a half shorter,
but of your breadth across the shoulders, in a rough sailor jacket,
gray trousers, wide straw-hat like the traders to the West Indies wear;
with exactly no, not exactly, but very nearly your features. I saw the
figure as plainly as I see you at this moment--it could not have been
more distinct. The illusion was so perfect that I supposed they had put
you in another room, and went to ask Süssmilch what he meant by giving
our healthiest room to the first comer. Do not smile, my friend; it is
no laughing matter--at least for me. It is the first time that anything
of the kind has happened to me, though my frequent congestions of the
head might have prepared me to expect it, I know that I shall die of
apoplexy; and even if I had not known it before, I should know it now."

He took out his watch and examined his pulse.

"Strange to say, my pulse is perfectly normal; and all this morning I
have felt unusually well and cheerful."

"My dear doctor," I said, "who knows what you saw? You learned men have
such singular notions, and out of the merest gnat you will make a
scientific elephant."

"Scientific elephant is good," said the doctor; "nobody would have
expected such an expression from an unscientific mammoth like you--very
good! but you are mistaken. That may apply to others, but not to me. I
observe too coolly to commit gross blunders. I have told you already
that my pulse is normal, exactly normal, and all my functions in
perfect order; therefore the thing must have a deeper psychological
cause, which just now escapes my perceptions; for the psychological
cause----"

"Then at all events you have a psychological cause," said I, who was
mischievous enough to be delighted at the serious scruples of my
learned friend.

"I have; and I will tell it to you, even at the risk of more of your
malicious grins. I was dreaming all night long of you, you mammoth, and
always the same dream, though in different forms, namely, that you
either were escaping, or had escaped, or were about to escape from
here. Sometimes you were lowering yourself by a rope from the window,
or clambering over the roofs, or leaping down from the wall, or any
other neck-breaking trick that one might expect from a fellow of your
physical and moral peculiarities; and you were every time in a
different dress, now a chimney-sweep, now a mason, a rope-dancer, and
so forth. As soon as I awaked, I asked myself what this dream could
mean, and I said to myself--True, George Hartwig is now again in his
prison, but the exceptional position in which he stands still
continues, and so does the danger for our valued friend the
superintendent, which lies in an arrangement which we must acknowledge
to be not merely irregular, but contrary to the rules. For every
creature is only content in the element to which it is born. The frog
would spring from a golden chair into his native swamp; and the bird
escapes when he can, though you cram his cage with sugar. Will it not
be so with this youth, who of all men must most long for liberty? May
he not in a moment of weakness forget what consideration he owes to
Herr von Zehren, that the latter to a certain extent risks his position
on his account, and in this moment of weakness and forgetfulness make
his escape? And do you know, young mammoth, I determined that, as I
also had some claim upon you, I would privately and in all friendship
ask you to give me your word that if such a temptation seizes you, you
will only think of your own honor. This was what I had in my mind when
I came up the corridor, and I was in some degree undecided, for I
thought he will have taken this resolution already, and to give his
word to me will be superfluous. But now, after this singular projection
of my dream into reality--a _memento mori_ to me, moreover--I beg you
earnestly to give me your word. Hm, hm, hm!"

I had ceased to laugh, long before he had reached this conclusion; and
now, while the worthy doctor tuned down his voice, extended him my
hand, and said with emotion:

"With all my heart I give you my word, although it is true that I have
given it to myself, and that not ten minutes ago. And as for the
hallucination, you may make your mind easy, doctor; here lies your
_memento mori_."

With these words I pulled out the sailor's dress from under the bed,
slipped on the jacket, and put on the hat, to make the proof more
convincing.

"So you did really think of escaping, then?" said the doctor, adroitly
dropping the hallucination, in order at least to preserve the dream.

"No," I answered, "but others tempted me, and I strove with them, and
they fled leaving this garment behind them."

"Which you may hang as a votive offering on the temple-wall," replied
Doctor Snellius, thoughtfully; "for though I do not know how it
happened, I see this much, that you have escaped a great danger; and
now--now for the first time you belong to us."

There was a saying in the prison that one could tell a lie to any one,
but not to the superintendent.

Superintendent von Zehren had a way of looking at the person with whom
he was speaking, to which none but a front of brass could have been
callous. Not that one could read in his glance the endeavor to be as
comprehensive and as penetrating as possible; his eye had in it nothing
of the spy or the inquisitor; on the contrary, it was large and limpid
as the eye of a child, and just in this lay the power which few men
could resist. As he sincerely wished well to every one with whom he
spoke, and on his own part had nothing to conceal, this large, clear,
dark eye rested steadily upon one, with the gaze of the sun-bright
gods, who do not wink like weak mortals living in twilight and
concealment.

When, with this look fixed upon me, he asked me about the man whom he
had sent to me that morning, I told him at once who the man was, and
what was his object in coming. And I further told him in what frame of
mind he had found me, and how strong the temptation had been, but that,
even without the assistance of the good doctor, I had conquered it, I
might venture to say, at once and for ever.

The superintendent listened to my narrative with all the signs of the
most lively interest. When I ceased, he pressed my hand, and then
turning to his writing-table, handed me a paper, which he said he had
just received, and which he desired me to read.

The paper was an inquiry from the president, couched in polite but very
decided phraseology, as to the facts referred to in a certain anonymous
charge which had reached him, and the superintendent was called upon at
once to put an end to an arrangement which compromised his position and
character, and to treat the young man in question with the severity
which the dignity of the law, of the judges, and his own, alike
demanded.

"You wish to know," said the superintendent, as I laid down the paper
with an inquiring look, "what I intend to do. Exactly as if I had never
received this. I do not desire to know whether Doctor Snellius, whose
friendship for me often gives him a sharper insight in matters that
concern me, than I have myself, was playing a little comedy when he
hurried you off so abruptly yesterday, but I am very glad it so
happened. For it would have wounded my pride to be compelled to
sacrifice you, to whom I am so much attached, to a pitiful bit of
chicanery. According to the letter of the law, they are right in
insisting that a prisoner cannot be a guest in the superintendent's
family; and this point I should have had to yield; but beyond this I am
fully determined not to yield a single step. To decide in what kind of
work a prisoner shall be engaged, and how he shall employ his hours of
recreation, is my incontestable right, which I will not suffer to be
curtailed by a hair's breadth, and which I will maintain through all
the tribunals, even though it should be brought before the king. And I
am not sorry that this has happened, since it gives us an occasion to
speak of our mutual relations, and to have a clear understanding of the
way we shall pursue in future. If you are disposed to hear what I think
on the subject, we will go into the garden. My lungs suffer to-day from
the confined air of a room."

We stepped from his office into the garden. I offered him my arm, as my
strength was now sufficient for this service, and we walked in silence
between the flower-beds, from which the warm south wind wafted us the
perfume of wallflowers and mignonnette, to the grateful shade of the
plane-trees. The superintendent took his seat upon one of the benches,
motioned to me to place myself at his side, and after a silent glance
of gratitude at the leafy crowns of the noble trees that afforded the
refreshing coolness, he said:

"If we are to believe the jurists, by whose words the students
everywhere swear, Punishment is the right of Wrong. This definition, by
its simplicity, recommends itself to the logicians at their desks, but
I doubt extremely whether the Founder of the Faith would have been
content with it. He did not declare that to be stoned was the right of
the guilty woman; on the contrary, by summoning him who was without sin
to cast the first stone, he showed that under the smooth logical
surface of the legal code there lay a deeper principle, which only
reveals itself to the eye that can see and the heart that can feel. To
such an eye and such a heart it soon is clear that every wrong which is
to be punished in order that it may have its right, is, if not always,
almost always, a wrong at second, third, or hundredth hand; and thus
the punishment rarely reaches the one who may have deserved it. So the
justest judge, whether he will or not, resembles the sanguinary general
who orders every tenth man to be led off to execution, not because he
is guiltier than the other nine, but because he is the tenth.

"But this is not apparent to the logician, who smiles with satisfaction
if he does not come into conflict with his principle of Identity and
his principle of Contradiction; nor to; the judge who has before him
but an isolated fact, torn from its connections, and who has to give
judgment when he has not all the parts in his hand, not to mention the
visible and invisible threads upon which these parts are necessarily
strung. They both are like the crowd which judges a picture by its
effect alone; while the connoisseur knows how it came into existence,
what colors the painter had upon his palette, how he blended them, how
he handled his brush, what difficulties he encountered, and how he
overcame them, or why it was that he failed of his aim. And as the only
true criticism is creative, which takes the secrets of art as the
starting-point of its judgment, so that none but an artist can be a
real critic, even so men's actions can only be judged by those to whom
the old wise word applies, that nothing human is alien to them, because
they have experienced in themselves and in their brethren the whole
misery of humanity. But for this are necessary, as I said before, the
feeling heart and the seeing eye, and an ample opportunity for training
and using both.

"Who has a better opportunity for this purpose than the superintendent
of a prison? He and the physician, when their views coincide and they
strive together towards the same ends, alone can know what the most
conscientious judge has no means of learning, how the man whom mankind
have thrust out from among them for a time or forever, became what he
now is; how, born thus, and of such parents, brought up in such
associations, he acted thus and not otherwise at such a critical
moment. Then when the superintendent, who is of necessity the confessor
of the criminal, has learned his life in all its details, and the
physician has discovered the defects with which he has suffered for
years, when they consult upon his case, the question only is if he can
be helped and how; and in the so-called prison they see, respectively,
but a reformatory and an infirmary. For--and this is a point of
infinite importance, which physiology will yet compel jurisprudence to
acknowledge--nearly all who come here are diseased in the ordinary
acceptation of the word; nearly all suffer from organic defects, and in
almost every case the brain lacks the proper volume which a normal man
needs for normal activity, for a life which shall not bring him into
conflict with the law.

"And how could it be otherwise? Almost without exception they are
children of want, of wretchedness, of moral and physical malformation,
the Pariahs of Society which in its brutal egotism sweeps by with
garments gathered up for fear of defilement, or thrusts them away with
cruel violence from its path. The right of wrong! Insolence of
Phariseeism! A time will come when this invention of the philosophers
will be placed on a level with that other of the theologians, that
death is the atonement for sin, and men will thank God that at last
they have awaked from the night of ignorance which gave birth to such
monsters.

"That day will come, but not so soon.

"We are still deeply sunk in the mire of the Middle Ages, and no man
can yet see when this flood of blood and tears will have passed away.
However far the glances of a few brighter intellects may reach into the
coming ages, the progress of humanity is unspeakably slow. Wherever we
look abroad into our own time, we behold the unbeautiful relics of a
past that we had believed to be overthrown long ago. Our systems of
government, our nobility, our religious institutions, our official
arrangements, the organization of our armies, the condition of the
laboring classes--everywhere the scarcely hidden relation between
masters and slaves; everywhere the critical choice whether we will be
hammer or anvil. All our experience, all our observation seems to prove
that there is no third alternative. And yet no greater misconception of
the real state of the case is possible. Not hammer _or_ anvil, hammer
_and_ anvil is the true word, for every man is both, and both at once,
in every moment of his life. With the same force with which the hammer
strikes the anvil, the anvil strikes the hammer; the ball is thrown off
from the wall at the same angle under which it impinges upon it; the
elements which the plant has appropriated in its growth, it must
exactly restore in its decomposition--and so throughout all nature. But
if nature unconsciously obeys this great law of action and reaction,
and is thereby a cosmos and not a chaos, then should man, whose
existence is subordinated to precisely the same law, acquire an
intelligent knowledge of it, and endeavor intelligently to shape his
life in conformity with it; and his worth increases or diminishes
exactly in proportion as he does this or neglects it. For though the
law remains the same, whether the man knows it or knows it not,
yet for himself it is not the same. Where it is known, where the
inseparableness, the unity of human interests, the inevitableness of
action and reaction, are recognized, there bloom freedom, equity,
justice, which are all but varying expressions for the same law. Where
it is not known, and he fancies in his blindness that he can with
impunity make a tool of his fellow-man, there flourish rankly slavery
and tyranny, superstition and priestcraft, hatred and contempt, in all
their poisonous luxuriance. What man would not naturally wish rather to
be hammer than anvil, so long as he believes that the choice lies open
to him? But what reasonable man will not cheerfully renounce the part
of hammer, when he has learned that the part of anvil will not and
cannot be spared him, and that every blow that he gives smites also his
own cheek; that the serf corrupts the master as well as the master the
serf, and that in politics the guardian and the ward are rendered
equally stupid. Would that the consciousness of this might at last
penetrate to the mind of the German peoples, who stand so sorely in
need of it!

"So sorely in need! For I must say it that at this moment, hardly
twenty years after our war of freedom, that fundamental principle of
human existence is probably by no enlightened nation so thoroughly and
universally ignored as by us Germans, fond though we are of calling
ourselves the intellectual flower of the nations, the people of
thinkers. Where is the young plant of humanity subjected with more
intolerable schoolmasterly pedantry to a too early, too strict, and
incredibly narrow training? Where is its free, beautiful development
more systematically hindered and maimed than it is with us? The
shameful wrongs that we perpetrated by aid of school-benches and
church-benches, the drill-sergeant's stick, the Procrustes-bed of
examination, the many-rounded ladder of official hierarchy--to think of
them sends the blush of shame to the cheeks and the glow of indignation
to the brow of those who can perceive it; it is justly the
inexhaustible theme of derision for our neighbors. The frenzy of
ruling, the slavish desire of being ruled, these are the two serpents
that have coiled around the German Hercules, and are crushing him; they
it is that are everywhere impeding the free circulation, and producing
here a condition of hypertrophy, and there of atrophy, that cruelly
injure the body of the nation; they it is that, injecting their venom
into the veins of the people, poison its blood and marrow, and degrade
the race itself; they it is, finally, that we have to thank for the
fact that our penitentiaries and jails can no longer contain the
multitude of the prisoners. For it is not an exaggeration if I say that
nine out of ten that come here would never have come had they not been
made anvils by force, in order that the lords of the hammer might have
something to vent their courage on. And as the natural right of every
man to maintain himself in the way most suitable to his powers and
capabilities has been impeded in them as much as possible by hindering
them systematically from becoming sound strong members of the
commonwealth, they have finally been brought here to the workhouse. The
workhouse is at bottom nothing but the last consequence of our
conditions, the problem of our life reduced to its simplest terms. Here
they must accomplish a strictly prescribed task in a strictly
prescribed manner; but when were they ever allowed freely to choose
their work? Here they must be silent; but when were they ever allowed
to speak freely? Here they must pay implicit obedience to the lowest
overseer; but without having read Shakspeare, do they not know that a
dog in office is obeyed? Here they must walk, stand, lie down, sleep,
wake, pray, work, idle, at the word of command; but are they not
admirably trained for it?--are they not all born workhouse men? My
heart aches when I think of it; yet how can I help thinking of it
especially at this moment when I see you before me, and ask myself: how
comes this youth with the frame of a strong man, and the frank blue
eyes of a child, in this abode of vice and crime?

"My dear young friend, I would that the answer were more difficult.
Would that it were not the same formula by which I can calculate the
equation of your life also. Would that I did not know that the
unnaturalness of our relations is like a poisonous simoon that withers
the grass and even strips the leaves from the oak.

"I have endeavored from what I before knew of you, and from what you so
frankly have confided to me of your earlier life, of your family
affairs, of the life and customs of the citizens of your native town,
to form a background upon which I might design your portrait. And how
cheerless it is, lying in the dim light in which all things now seem to
lie with us! Everywhere littleness, narrow-mindedness, restrictions,
blind adhesion to old formulas, pedantic ceremoniousness, everywhere
the free outlook into life shut out by high walls of prejudice. You
have told me that you besought your father to let you go to sea, and
that he steadfastly insisted that you should be a man of learning, or
at least follow an official career. It was certainly not, as you
accused yourself, a mere inclination to idleness or a hankering after
adventures that again and again prompted this wish; and assuredly your
father, whatever his reasons, did not do well so obstinately to reject
it. He had lost one son at sea--very well; there is another sea, the
sea of happy, active, energetic life, in which all faculties have their
free play. This he should not have forbidden you; and this was really
the sea for which you longed, of which the ocean with its storms was
but the image, though you took it for the reality.

"Your father did not do well; yet we cannot reckon with him, rendered
gloomy by domestic misfortune, too soon left alone in the world, and
irritated by his son's resistance. But what can we say of your pedantic
teachers, not one of whom could comprehend a youth whose character is
openness itself? What of your worthy friends who raised a hue and cry
over the profligate who was leading their sons into mischief, and who
held it a devout work to widen the breach between father and son? Many
an honest German youth has been in your case, my friend; brought up
under such desperately stringent social restrictions, that he thanks
heaven, when, in the far west of America, under the trees of the
primeval forest, he hears no more about social order. True, in your
flight from the oppressive narrowness of your father's house, you did
not get so far as the American forests, but unhappily, only as far as
the woods of the Zehrenburg, and this filled up the measure of your
misfortunes.

"For there you met with one towards whom you must have felt yourself
drawn by an irresistible attraction, as his nature in many points had a
wonderful resemblance to your own; one whose ruin had been mainly due
to the wretchedness of our social relations, and who had made a
wilderness around; him in which he could move in accordance with his
unfettered will, which he called liberty. A wilderness in the moral as
well as the literal sense; for as I learn from what you have told me of
his discourses, and as the result has shown, in throwing away prejudice
he also cast overboard judgment, with precaution, discretion, with
scrupulousness, consideration, with the faults of the German character
the virtues of all; and all that at last remained to him were his
adventurous spirit and a kind of fantastic magnanimity which at times,
as you have yourself experienced, could be more fantastic than
magnanimous.

"But be that as it may, he was a man with whom you were at once struck,
because he was the exact opposite of all men whom you had hitherto met,
and who still possessed chivalrous qualities enough for a youth so
inexperienced to see in him his ideal. And then the free life upon the
broad heaths, the lofty cliffs, the far-reaching shore--how could this
do other than intoxicate and confuse a brain yet clouded with the dust
of the school-room?

"But this freedom, this independence, this energetic life, were all but
a glittering reflection, the Fata-Morgana of a Hesperian shore, which
was destined to vanish, leaving behind a guard-house and a
penitentiary.

"To make this prison a Hesperian garden to you, is not in my power, my
friend; nor would I do it if it were. But one thing I hope to effect,
and that is, that here, where the errors that warped your early
training can no longer reach you, you may come to yourself, learn to
know yourself, your aims, and the measure of your powers--that in a
workhouse you may learn how to work."



                             CHAPTER VIII.


I will not maintain that the excellent man said all that I have put
into his mouth in the last chapter, in these identical words, or upon
this particular morning. It is probable that I have thrown into
connection his remarks upon more than a single occasion, and perhaps
have added a phrase or a figure of my own. But hardly more than this;
for I too deeply absorbed his philosophy, which descended upon my
thirsting soul like the fruitful shower upon a parched field; and while
I attempt to repeat his thoughts, his image stands so lively in my
memory, that I fancy I hear the words issuing from his lips.

And at this time I enjoyed the happiness of his converse every day and
often for hours at a time. It was not in my power to keep the promise I
had made to Paula, for her father did not wait for me to put the
question to him. I had told him our conversation, however, at which he
smiled.

"She wants to make a learned man of you," he said. "I wish to make
nothing of you; I wish you to become what you are capable of becoming;
and to find out your capabilities we must experiment a little. One
thing is certain: you can become a first-rate hand-worker. You have
shown that already; and I am well satisfied that you have gone through
this brief course, for the first touches of the artist follow the last
of the craftsman, and it is well that he should understand the
handiwork upon which his art rests; not only because only thus is he
able to see rightly and help with counsel and hand wherever help is
needed, but only then is it truly his work, and belongs to him as a
child to a parent not only spirit of his spirit, but also flesh of his
flesh. Then how much more sharply does the eye see where the hand has
been busy? Here is the ground-plan of the new infirmary; this is the
foundation which you yourself helped to clear out, and for which you
yourself helped to bring the stones. This wall will be built upon that
foundation; it is of this height and this thickness; without a
calculation you are satisfied that such a foundation can support such a
wall. Do you not feel a pleasure in the neat, firm drawing in which a
single line represents the work of an hour, or perhaps of many days?
Paula has told me that you have an accurate eye and a sure hand. I need
copies of these plans: would you like to make them for me? It is
work suited to a convalescent; and the use of compass, ruler, and
drawing-pen, I can show you in five minutes."

From this day I worked in the superintendent's office, copying simple
outlines or the design of a front, or engrossing specifications, with a
pleasure which I had never imagined could accompany work. But who then
ever had such a teacher--so kind, so wise, so patient, who so well knew
how to lead the pupil to confidence in himself? How grateful to me was
his praise; and how I stood in need of it. I who at school had always
been blamed and scolded, who looked on it as a matter of course that my
work was worse than that of any of the others, and who had come to
consider myself as destitute of all capacity. My new teacher taught me
that my capacities were only dormant, and that I could perfectly well
understand anything that I thought worth understanding. Thus I had
resigned myself in mathematics to make no progress beyond the first
rudiments, and now to my astonishment I discovered that these uncouth
symbols and crabbed formulas were composed of simple ideas and figures,
and constructed with a logical consequence which I had no difficulty in
perceiving, and in which I felt inexpressible delight.

"It is singular," I said on one occasion, "that when I was with Herr
von Zehren I thought there could be nothing on earth more delightful
than shooting over a wide heath on a sunny autumn morning; but I now
find that to correctly employ a difficult formula gives more pleasure
than a good shot that brings down an unlucky pheasant."

"The whole secret," replied my teacher, "lies in giving free play to
our powers and our talents in a direction which is agreeable to our own
nature. For in this manner we feel that we _are_; and every creature at
every moment seeks for nothing further. But if we can so contrive it
that our activity, besides giving us the proof of our existence, turns
to the advantage of others--and happily that is almost always in our
power--so much the better for us. Would to heaven my unfortunate
brother had caught a sight of this truth."

Of course, especially in the earlier period of my imprisonment, our
conversation frequently turned upon "the Wild Zehren."

"As a boy he bore that name," said the superintendent; "everybody
called him 'the Wild One,' and it was hardly possible to give him
another name. In his fiery nature lay an impulse that he could not
resist, to put forth his exuberant strength even to excess, to venture
whatever was most hazardous, and to attempt even the impossible. You
can judge the field that our paternal estate offered to such a boy. To
dash on the wildest horses down the steep heights, to put out to sea in
a crazy boat during a raging storm, to roam over the perilous moors by
night, to climb the giant beeches of the park to bring down a bird's
nest, to dive into the tarn in search of the treasure which they say
was thrown into it in the time of the Swedish invasion--these were his
favorite sports. I have no idea how often he found himself in danger of
death; but in truth it might be said to be every moment, for at any
moment the impulse might seize him to do something which put his life
in peril. Once we were standing at an upper window and saw an
infuriated bull chasing one of the laborers around the court. Malte
said, 'I must take that fellow in hand,' sprang down twenty feet into
the court as another might arise from a chair, and ran to meet the
bull, whose rage had however spent itself, so that he allowed the
daring boy to drive him back to the cattle-yard. It was a mere chance
here that he did not break his bones and was not gored; but as chance
always stood his friend, he grew more and more reckless and daring.

"Chance, however, is a capricious deity, and unexpectedly leaves its
greatest favorites in the lurch. A far worse enemy to my brother were
the circumstances in which he grew up. The only thing he had been
taught, was that the Zehrens were the oldest race on the island, and
that he was the first-born. From these two articles of faith he
constructed a sort of religion and mystical cultus which was all the
more fantastic that his pompous fancies contrasted so glaringly with
the threadbare reality.

"Our father was a nobleman of the old lawless school, and of the wild
ways of his class in the eighteenth century: a man of all men least
fitted to form the character of a haughty, audacious boy like my
brother. Our mother had lived at courts, and in this unwholesome sphere
frittered away her really remarkable gifts. She yearned for the
vanished splendors of her former life; the solitude of a country life
wearied, and the rudeness with which she was surrounded, shocked her.
Their life was not a happy one: as she knew she was no longer beloved
by her husband, she soon ceased to love her children, in whom she
fancied--whether rightly or wrongly is of no consequence--that she
perceived only the traits of their father. Our father's regard was
confined to his first-born alone; and when a wealthy, childless aunt
asked to be allowed to take charge of the second son, Arthur, he
willingly consented. Indeed I believe he would have been glad to be rid
of me also, the youngest son, only no one was willing to take me. Thus
I grew up as I best could; sometimes I had a tutor and sometimes I had
none; no one cared for me; I should have been left entirely alone, had
not my eldest brother, after his fashion, taken me under his charge.

"He loved me, who was ten years his junior, with passionate devotion,
with a wild, and, as it now appears to me, a touching tenderness.
Strong as I afterwards grew, I was a frail and sickly child. He, the
dauntless, shielded me from every shadow of danger; he watched and
guarded me as the apple of his eye; played with me, when I was well,
for half-days at a time; watched, when I was sick, night after night by
my bed. I was the only one who could control 'the Wild One' with a
word, a look; but what could such influence avail? It was a thread that
snapped, when the youth of twenty, after a scene of unusual violence
with our father, left suddenly the paternal house, to enter it no more
for ten years.

"He was sent to travel, as the customary phrase then ran; but the
always insufficient remittances which he received from our father,
whose means were daily diminishing, soon ceased altogether. He had to
live as he could; and as he could not live at his own expense, he lived
at the expense of others, like many a noble adventurer, to-day a
beggar, to-morrow rolling in gold; to-day the comrade of the lowest
rabble, tomorrow the companion of princes; with his irresistible power
of fascination, conquering all hearts wherever he came, yet himself
fixed nowhere, and roaming restlessly from one end of Europe to the
other. He was in England, Italy, Spain, and longest in France; in the
wild life of Paris he found his natural element, and he revelled in the
arms of French ladies, whose brothers and husbands were devastating his
native land with fire and sword.

"For five or six years we had heard nothing of him; our mother had
died, and we had not known where to send him the news of her death; our
father, broken before his time, was tottering to his grave; the
devastation of our estates by the enemy, who had penetrated even to us,
did not move his apathy--he drank the last bottle of wine in his cellar
in a carouse with French officers. I could not endure all this with
patience. I challenged the French colonel, a Gascon, who, seated at my
father's table, with a guitar in his hands, was singing ribald songs
insulting to the Germans. He laughed, and made his men take the sword
from the boy of seventeen--it was a dress-sword which hung on the wall
by a blue scarf as an ornament, and which I had snatched in my fury--to
punish his presumption by having him shot the next morning.

"In the night appeared a deliverer whom I had least reason to expect.
At the rumors of an uprising in Germany--at that time the first _Frei
corps_ was organizing--the Wild One had hurried back from the arms of
his paramours and the _salons_ of the Faubourg St. Germain, and his way
had led him to our native place, where just then the flames of war were
most fiercely burning. He could not reach the _Frei corps_, which was
in the citadel, so he turned to the island with the plan of stirring up
a guerrilla warfare against the invaders. He came just at the right
moment to snatch his brother from certain death. With a few trusty
followers hastily collected, he broke into the prison under
circumstances of the most daring audacity, and carried me away.

"From this time we were together for five years, and first as simple
volunteers, then as officers of the line, shared perils and hardships
like brothers. I was a good soldier, but my brother's name was known
throughout the whole army, and again he was called 'the Wild Zehren,'
as if to such a man that was the only fitting epithet. Innumerable were
the stories told of his courage and foolhardiness. The general opinion
was that he was seeking death; but he was not thinking of death--he
only despised life. He laughed when he heard others talking
enthusiastically of the regeneration of Germany; how we would rid our
native soil both of foreign and native tyrants, in order to establish a
kingdom of fraternity and equality in the liberated land. At that time
he often had the old phrase of 'hammer and anvil' on his lips, which,
as he said, expressed his philosophy in the simplest terms.
'Fraternity! equality!' he scoffed--'away with such empty phrases! This
is a world of the strong and the weak; of masters and serfs. You have
so long been the anvil under that giant hammer Napoleon, that now you
want to play hammer yourselves. See how far you will bring it. Not far,
I fear. You have only talents for the part of anvil.'

"'Why did you come to help us fight Napoleon?' I asked.

"'Because I was bored in Paris,' was his reply.

"But he did himself injustice. He was something more than the _blasé_
cavalier of fortune which he pretended to be; he had squandered in a
life of wild adventures the treasures of a heart dearer than Plutus'
mine; but a fragment of this heart was yet left him, and in this
fragment lived--if not genuine patriotism and philanthropy, at least
the generous impulse to side with the oppressed and resist the
oppressor, whether he be a brilliant conquerer or a stupid native
prince ruling by the grace of God.

"And now that the conquerer was chained to the rock of St. Helena, and
he saw the heroes of so many battles taking their old accustomed yoke
once more upon their patient necks; when he saw that the whole proud
torrent of liberty was wasting in the sand of loyal obedience, then he
broke his sword, which he had gloriously carried through twenty
battles, bestowed a curse upon both despots and slaves, and said that
now, as before the war, the world was his home; the only home for a
free-born man in a slavish age.

"I know well that his reasoning was strained and unsound; but there was
a kernel of truth in it. The result has proven this; the incredibly
vapid, idealess time in which we live, a time barren of thought and of
deeds, a real age of the Epigoni, has completely confirmed his
prediction. And now again he wandered, a homeless adventurer, through
the land, only with the difference that before with insolent power he
had sported with men, whom he now coldly preyed upon because he
despised them. 'I endeavored to purchase with my blood a letter of
indulgence for my past: it has been refused me. What now is the present
or the future to me?' How often have I thought upon this expression of
his to me at the moment of our parting. It has always remained with me
a key to his enigmatical character.

"Again for years I heard nothing more of him. Our father was dead; our
estate sequestered; my second brother, Arthur, whom his aunt had
deceived in his expectations, was toiling in thankless public service;
I, who had set my heart upon the regeneration of the public, and
thought that I could see that the work must be begun at the very
beginning, that is, at the bottom, had managed to obtain this place
through my patron, Altenburg; had been here, a crippled man, for four
years, and was still studying the rudiments of my vocation; Malte was
nowhere heard of. Suddenly he reappeared, and with a wife who had
followed the adventurer to his home. He declared his intention to take
the paternal estate in hand. I afforded him every facility; Arthur sold
his rights for a sum of money, the receipt of which, by the way, he
still denies. The creditors were glad to get at all events something,
and one of them at least consoled himself with the thought that
'omittance was no quittance,' and the hope--which has not deceived
him--that the Zehren estates were as secure to him under the new master
as under the old.

"We did not meet at his return; just at that time I could not well
leave this place, and he, on his part, felt no desire to renew the old
friendship. When we parted, I was about to contract a marriage, in
which the first-born of an ancient line saw a criminal _mésalliance_;
now for some years I had been holding an official post; and to hold any
post, but especially such a post as this, was in his eyes throwing
one's self away, trampling under foot the inborn right of a knight of
the hammer, and making one's self a plebeian anvil. That I refused the
compensation he had offered me for my interest in the estate, wounded
him deeply. By so doing, in his eyes, I renounced my obedience and
subordination to the first-born, the chief of the family. He could not
forgive me that I had no more need of him; that I had no debts which he
must plunge himself into debt to pay; in a word, that I was not like my
brother Arthur, who was much more compliant in this point--too
compliant, I fear.

"On the other side, what I heard of him--and he took care never to let
men's tongues rest about him--confirmed me in the sad conviction that
between him and me a gulf had opened, not to be crossed by even the
sincere love I still felt for him. I heard of the wild life he was
living with the noblemen of his neighborhood, now impoverished by the
war; of the drinking and gaming bouts, of mad exploits of which he was
the originator. At this time a dark rumor got abroad that he was
conducting the smuggling traffic, which during the war had flourished
greatly, being then encouraged by the government, but now was strongly
repressed. But the worst rumors were those that spoke of the wretched
life he led with his unhappy wife. He ill-treated her, it was said; he
had imprisoned her in a cellar; it was unaccountable that the
authorities did not interfere.

"I could not bear to hear these things, of which I did not believe a
word, for the charges were in too glaringly contradiction to the
naturally noble and generous nature of my brother. But I felt a natural
hesitation to mix myself up in these affairs, until a letter which I
received brought me to a decision. The letter was written in bad
French, and the very first words informed me that the unhappy woman who
wrote it must be out of her right mind. 'I hear you know the road to
Spain,' it began, and ended with the words, 'I entreat you to tell me
the road to Spain.' In an hour after receiving it I set out, and, after
so many years, saw my father's house and my brother again. It was a
painful meeting.

"My father's house a ruin, my brother a shadow--worse, a caricature--of
his former self. Ah, my friend, the hammer-theory had shown itself
cruel to its staunchest maintainer. How had the clumsy anvil beaten out
the delicate hammer! How ignoble he had grown in the common world which
he so deeply despised! 'Only despise reason and knowledge,' Goethe
makes the Spirit of Lies say, 'and I have you then safe.' And I say,
only despise men, and you will see how soon you grow despicable to
others and to yourself.

"I told him why I had come; he led me in silence into the park, and
pointed to a woman, who, in a fantastic dress, flowers and weeds in her
glossy-black, half-dishevelled hair, in her hands a guitar with half
its chords broken, was wandering under the trees and among the
shrubbery, sometimes raising her dark eyes, as if in ecstacy, to
heaven, and again dropping them, as in despair, to the earth.

"'You see,' he said, 'it is a lie that I have imprisoned her. Many
another would do it, for it is not a pleasant thing to afford the
public such an exhibition.'

"Take her to her native place," I said.

"'Try it,' he answered. 'She would leap out of the carriage; she would
throw herself into the sea. And if you took her there in fetters and by
force, what would be her fate? She would be thrown into the dungeon of
a convent, where they would try with hunger and blows to exorcize the
devil who tempted her to give her heart to a heretic. Though I love her
no longer, I once loved her, or at least she has been mine; and no
priest's ungentle hand shall touch what has once belonged to me.'

"I said how terrible it was to hear him speak thus of his wife, the
mother of his child.

"'Who says that she is my wife?' was his reply.

"I looked at him amazed and shocked; he shrugged his shoulders.

"'That does not suit your citizen virtue,' he said. 'I would have made
her Frau von Zehren, notwithstanding her father is a hidalgo of very
doubtful lineage, had the child been a boy. What do I want with a girl?
She cannot continue our race; let it then end with me.'

"It was indifferent to him whether these words wounded me or not; he
had no desire to wound me; he really looked upon the superintendent of
a prison, who had married a poor painter's daughter, as not a Zehren.

"I besought him to give me the child, if, as he said, she was nothing
to him. I would bring her up with my Paula, who was then just born.
Here she must perish both morally and physically; and there might be a
time when he would long for a child, whether son or daughter,
legitimate or illegitimate.

"'Then my last hour must have come,' he answered, turning away from me
with a contemptuous gesture.

"What was here to be done? I was not here to hunt with my brother, or
to join him in his carouses and gaming parties, to which he invited me,
with ironical politeness. I spoke with the poor lunatic, who did not
understand me, and had no idea that she had written to me, as to many
others whose names she had learned by chance. I shook hands with old
Christian, who had always been fond of me, and was now the only one who
remembered me, and begged him to watch over the poor forsaken creature.
I wandered once more through the park and greeted the scenes of my
boyish sports; once more saw the sun set behind the house where my
cradle had stood, and came sorrowing away. Thus might a tree feel that
is torn from the earth with all its roots. But, thank heaven, if man is
driven from his home, he can win himself a new one; and when the gates
of our childhood's paradise are closed behind us, another world opens
to us which we must conquer and possess in the sweat of our brows, but
which for this reason alone is truly ours."



                              CHAPTER IX.


It was certainly not with the intention of stimulating me--for that was
no longer needed--that my teacher in his discourses ever returned to
the same theme, that free, voluntary labor, consecrated by love, the
labor of all for all, was the completion of wisdom, the proper aim and
highest happiness of mankind. This was the last result of his practical
philosophy, to which of necessity all his reflections tended, whether
their subject was the destiny of the individual or the race. And as
these discourses were almost always carried on in intervals of repose
from work, from which we came and to which we were about to return,
they might be called significant arabesques to the earnest, and--as it
now looks to me--moving pictures presented by the unresting, thoughtful
master, and the industrious, eager student, in their combined
occupation.

This occupation was strictly regulated. It so happened that during my
convalescence, an old clerk of the office, who had long been ailing,
died. As it was a fixed principle with the superintendent that all work
should be done by inmates of the establishment, so far as that was
practicable, he had, in spite of the opposition of President von
Krossow, by means of an immediate application to the king, supported by
his friend, Minister von Altenburg, obtained liberty to leave the
clerk's place unfilled, and to give his work, as a special favor, to
me, for which I also received certain emoluments, reduced to the
proportion of other sums paid for prison-work. Deacon von Krossow
congratulated me, with anything but cordiality, on my "promotion," but
Dr. Snellius crowed loudly with joy, and in the family the great event
was celebrated as a festival. As for me, this arrangement had lifted a
load from my breast. I had now no longer to fear that the generous man
who had already done so much for me, would be involved in serious
inconveniences by his kindness. In the president's circle they had even
talked of investigations, removal from office, of pensioning off at the
very least. Now, as my relation to him bore an official character, this
danger was disposed of, and I could look with a light heart through the
open window by which my work-table stood, into the leafy garden, where
the bees were humming around the flowers, where the birds sang in the
trees, and among the flowers and under the trees Frau von Zehren took
her morning walk, leaning on her daughter's arm, or in the afternoon,
after school-hours, the boys played or worked in their flower-beds.

For each one, even Oscar, had his bed, which he had to keep in order;
and it was always a fresh pleasure to me to see the little men with
their watering-pots and other implements, which they handled with the
skill of practiced gardeners. And yet the pleasure which this sight
gave me, was not without a touch of sadness. It always brought to my
mind my own youth, and how joyless and fruitless it had been in
comparison with this, which unfolded itself before me in such fullness
of beauty. Who had ever taught me to employ thus usefully my youthful
strength? Who, to bring a significance even into my sports? Alas, large
and strong as I was, I might have been nourished by the crumbs that
fell from this bounteous table. For I had scarcely known my mother, and
the deeply melancholy disposition of my father, who was naturally
grave, and had been rendered still more gloomy by the loss of his
deeply-loved wife, was to a vivacious high-spirited boy at once
mysterious and terrible. Later I well understood what then I had but
imperfect glimpses of--how deeply and sincerely he desired my welfare,
and strove, according to his conscience and knowledge, to be a good
father to me; but like Moses, my excellent father was slow of speech,
and there was no obliging Aaron at hand to explain to me the reasons of
his stern commands. My brother and sister were considerably older than
myself. I was eight years old when my brother Fritz, then sixteen, went
to sea, and only ten when my sister, who was twenty, was married. My
brother was a lively, gay young fellow, and troubled himself about me
as little as he did about anybody or anything else in the world; my
sister had my father's sternness, but without his feeling. After she
was called to take the place of a mother to me, she treated me always
with pedantic strictness, and often with petty cruelty. So I took
refuge with the old serving-woman who lived in a state of hostility
with her, and who, to reward me for my partisanship, told me stories of
robbers and ghosts; and when Sarah married, and with her parting kiss
proceeded to give me a farewell lecture, I told her in the presence of
my father, her husband, and all the wedding-company, that I wanted
neither her teaching nor her kiss, and that I was glad that in future I
should see and hear of her no more. This was held up as an instance of
the most frightful ingratitude on my part; and Justizrath Heckepfennig,
who was also present on this occasion, pronounced for the first time
his deliberate conviction, which subsequent experience was only too
strongly to confirm, that I "would die in my shoes."

No one can blame me, if while I looked through the window at my little
friends, the wish arose in my mind that I had also been so fortunate,
that I had had a father at once so wise and so kind, so gentle and
tender a mother, such merry companions in work and play, and above all
such a sister.

At first she always brought to my mind some old child's story, but I
could not remember precisely what it was. It was not little Snow-white,
for little Snow-white was a thousand times fairer than the fairest
queen, and Paula was not really beautiful; it could not be little Red
Riding-hood, for she, when you came to look at it, was a little stupid
thing who could not tell the wicked wolf from her good old grandmother,
and Paula was tall and slender, and so very wise! Cinderella? Paula was
so neat that no cinders could ever be seen about her, and she had no
doves at her command to help her gather the peas; on the contrary, she
had to do everything for herself. I could not make it out, and
concluded at last that it was no special personage of whom she reminded
me, but rather that she was like one of the good fairies whom one does
not see either coming or going, and only know that she has been here by
the gift she has left behind; or like the friendly little goblins who,
while the maids sleep, clean up parlor and kitchen, garret and cellar;
and when the sleepers awake, they see that all their work is done
already, and far better than they could have done it themselves.

Yes, she must be a fairy, who, out of the abundance of her kindness to
those whom she befriended, had taken the form of a slender blue-eyed,
blonde maiden. How otherwise could it be that from early morning to
late evening she was always busy and yet never weary; that she was
always at hand when wanted; that she had ready attention for every one,
and that never the shadow of ill-humor passed across her sweet face,
much less an unkind word from her lips? True, her look was serious, and
she rarely spoke more than just what was needful, but her seriousness
had no admixture of gloom, and once or twice I even heard her playfully
chatting with a half-loud gentle voice, such as the fairies have when
they speak the language of mortals.

I confided my discovery to my friend, Dr. Snellius.

"Keep away from me with such nonsense!" cried he. "A fairy, indeed! It
is Lessing's old fable of the iron pot that must needs be taken off the
fire with a pair of silver tongs. What does she do, then, that is so
extraordinary? She is the housekeeper, the teacher of the children, her
father's friend, her mother's companion, and the nurse of both. All
good girls are all this: there is nothing so unusual in it; it all lies
in system and order. But a fantastic head of twenty years naturally
cannot see men and things as they really are. Do you marry her. That is
the best means of discovering that the angels with the longest azure
wings are but women after all."

I passed my hand through my hair, which was now perceptibly regaining
its former luxuriance, and said thoughtfully:

"I marry Paula? Never! I cannot imagine the man who would be worthy to
marry her; but this I know certainly, that I am not he. What am I?"

"For the present you are condemned to seven years' imprisonment, and
have therefore fully that amount of time for considering what you will
be when you are released. I trust that you will then be a worthy man,
and I do not know what girl, nor what seraph is too good for a worthy
man."

"But I know another reason, doctor, why I shall not be able to marry
her then."

"What is that?"

"Because by that time you will have married her yourself."

"What a grinning, gnashing mammoth! Do you suppose a girl like that
will marry an apoplectic billiard-ball?"

Whether the doctor was provoked at the contradiction into which he had
fallen in scouting, as regarded himself, the possibility which he had
just maintained in reference to me--or whatever the cause may have
been, the blood rushed so violently to his bald head, that he really
bore a striking resemblance to the remarkable object to which he had
just compared himself, and his crow rose to such an extraordinary
height of pitch, that he did not even make the attempt to tune himself
down.

These sayings of the doctor haunted my memory for several days. I was
struck with the thought that a worthy man was good enough for any girl,
and therefore that in this respect there was no reason why I should
not, sooner or later, marry Paula. But then again, I knew not how, my
old notions returned, and when I saw her arranging and ordering all
things with her heavenly patience, I said to myself--It is not true
that all girls, even the so-called good ones, are like Paula; and it is
an absurd idea of the doctor that I can ever be worthy of her.

The clear atmosphere, the splendid sunsets, the dry leaves that here
and there fluttered down from the trees, announced the approach of
another autumn. It was the season that I had spent the year before at
Castle Zehrendorf; these were the same signs that I had then so closely
observed, and they awakened in my soul a crowd of memories. I had
believed that these memories were deeply buried, and I now found that
only a thin covering had been spread over them, which every light
sighing of the melancholy autumn breeze sufficed to lift. Indeed it
often seemed to me that the wounds which had been inflicted on me a
year before were about to open once more. I again lived over all that
time, but it was as when a waking man, in full consciousness, calls
back a vivid dream. What in a dream, with the incomplete activity of
our intellectual faculties, seemed to us natural and reasonable,
appears to us, when awake, as a strange phantasm; and what then
tormented us as incomprehensible, we can now clearly understand,
because we can supply the vacant steps which our dreaming fancy has
leaped lightly over. I had only to compare my position at that time
with the present, to see how wild a caricature my fancy had drawn. Then
I imagined myself free, and was really involved in a net of the most
unhappy, the most repulsive circumstances, as a fly in the web of a
spider; now I slept every night behind bars of iron, and felt as calm
and safe as when one steps from a swaying boat upon the steady land.
Then I believed that I had found my proper career, and now I saw that
that life was only a continuation, and to a certain extent the
consequence of a youth spent without plan or aim. And in what light now
did the persons in whose destinies I had taken such a passionate
interest, now appear to me, when I compared them with those whom I had
learned to love so cordially--when I compared, for instance, the Wild
Zehren with his wise and gentle brother? And, as I had begun to draw
comparisons, that dejected, sleepy giant, Hans von Trantow--where now
was the good Hans, if he was not dead? and there were those who
insisted that he was safe enough, and they knew very well where he
was--had to take his place by the side of the little, intelligent
Doctor Snellius, always full of life and motion; and even poor old
Christian was compared with the vigorous old Sergeant Süssmilch. But
most vividly was the comparison forced upon me between the beautiful,
romantic Constance, and the pure, refined Paula.

A sharper contrast could scarcely be imagined; and for this reason
perhaps the image of the one always called up that of the other. I felt
for Paula, notwithstanding her youth, a greater respect than I had ever
felt for Constance, who was several years older, and far more
beautiful. True, with the latter at first I had had a certain
bashfulness to overcome in myself, but this bashfulness was of a very
different nature, and I had so completely overcome it, that when I left
the castle that morning, I was resolved to marry her, in spite of my
nineteen years. And what surprised me was the fact that I could not
think of Constance, who had so cruelly betrayed me, and whom I believed
myself to hate, without the wish that I might see her once more, and
tell her how much I had loved her, and how deeply she had wounded me.
Where was she now? When last heard of, she was in Paris.

Was she still there, and how was she living? That she had been
abandoned by her lover, I knew already; I had laughed aloud when I
first heard of it. Now I laughed no longer; I could not think, without
a feeling of the deepest pity, of her who had been so atrociously
wronged, who now perhaps--yes, beyond a doubt--was wandering homeless
and friendless about the world; an adventuress, as her father had been
an adventurer. And yet she could not be altogether vile; had she not
with pride and scorn renounced every claim upon her father's
inheritance? Did she not know that her father had never deigned to make
her mother his wife? Had she perhaps known it before? And if so, did
not this fact suffice to explain the hostile position she maintained
towards her father? Could she love the man who had plunged her mother
into such unbounded wretchedness--who had never been to her what a
father should be, and who, if the reports of his gaming companions were
to be believed, had only used her as a bait to allure the stupid fish
to his net? Could one judge her so severely--her who had sprung from
such parents, grown up in isolation and amid such associations, exposed
from childhood to the clumsy attentions or the impertinent
familiarities of rude country squires--if she had violated duties whose
sacredness she had never comprehended?--if she had been sacrificed by a
profligate who approached her with all the temptations of wealth and
his exalted rank, and with the whole magic of youth? Unfortunate
Constance! Your song of the "falsest-hearted, only chosen" was cruelly
prophetic. Your chosen one had indeed proved false-hearted to you. And
the other, your faithful George, who was to kill all the dragons
lurking in your path, you scorned his service; and the mistrust which
you felt in the strength and wisdom of the squire who had devoted
himself to you, was but too well justified. Would he ever see you
again?

I know that she had refused to be present at the family conference
which was soon to be held. And yet, as the day drew nearer, the thought
more frequently recurred to me, that she might still change her mind,
uncertain and impulsive as she was, and suddenly stand before me, just
as my friend Arthur one evening, as I was returning with Paula from the
Belvedere, appeared before me in all the splendor of his new ensign's
uniform.



                               CHAPTER X.


The day had been rainy and disagreeable, and my frame of mind was as
dull and gloomy as the weather. In the morning the superintendent had
had an attack of hemorrhage. I was for the first time alone in the
office, and often looked over from my work to the place that was vacant
to-day, and again listened, when a light swift step came along the
corridor from the room where the superintendent was, to the nursery,
where the little Oscar had been lying for a week with some infantile
ailment. I was always hoping that the light swift step would stop at my
door; but the fairy had today too much to do, and with all, I thought,
had probably forgotten me.

But she had not forgotten me.

It was towards evening. As I could no longer see, I had put by my work,
and was still seated upon the office stool, with my head resting on my
hand, when there came a light tap at the door. I hurried to open it--it
was Paula.

"You have not been out of the room the whole day," she said; "the rain
is over; I have half an hour to spare; shall we walk in the garden a
little?"

"How are they?"

"Better, much better."

She answered promptly, and yet her voice did not have a reassuring
sound; and she was singularly silent as side by side we ascended the
path to the Belvedere. I concealed my solicitude, as well as I could,
by encouraging words. The little one, I said, was now out of all
danger; and it was not the first attack of the kind which the
superintendent had had, and from which he always soon recovered his
usual strength. This was Dr. Snellius's opinion too, I added.

While I thus spoke, Paula had not once looked at me, and as we now
reached the summer-house, she entered it hastily. I remained behind a
moment to look at the clouds which the sunset was coloring with hues of
marvellous beauty, and called Paula that she might not miss the
splendid sight. She did not answer; I stepped to the door. She was
sitting at the table, her face buried in her hands, weeping.

"Paula, dear Paula!" I exclaimed.

She raised her head and strove to smile, but it was in vain; again she
covered her face with her hands and wept aloud.

I had never seen her before in this state, and the unusual and
unexpected sight distressed me inexpressibly. In my deep emotion I
ventured for the first time gently to smooth down her blond hair with
my hand, speaking to her as to a child whom I was trying to soothe and
comfort. And what was this maiden of fifteen but a helpless child to
me, who stood by her now in the plenitude of my fully restored
strength?

"You are very kind," she sobbed, "very kind! I do not know why just
to-day I see everything in so gloomy a light. Perhaps it is because I
have borne it so long in silence; or possibly it may be this gray,
cheerless day; but I cannot keep my mind clear of dreadful thoughts.
And what will become of my mother and the boys?"

She shook her head mournfully, and looked straight before her with eyes
dim with tears.

It had begun to rain again; the bright tints of the clouds had changed
to a dull gray; the evening wind rustled in the trees and the dry
leaves came eddying down. I felt unutterably sad--sad and vexed at
heart. Here again was I in the most wretched of positions; compelled to
witness the distress of those I loved, while powerless to relieve it.
It might be that Constance and her father had not deserved the sympathy
I had felt for them; but I still had endured the grief and the pain;
and this family--this--I knew well were worthy that a man should shed
his heart's blood in their service. Alas, again I had nothing but my
blood that I could give! To give one's blood is perhaps the greatest,
and assuredly the last sacrifice that one man can bring to another; but
how often does it prove a coinage that is not current in the market of
life. A handful of money would bring rescue--a piece of bread--a
blanket--a mere nothing--and yet with all our blood we cannot provide
this.

And as I stood, leaning in the door of the summer-house, now glancing
at the gentle, weeping girl, and now at the dripping trees, my heart
swelling with sorrow and helpless indignation, I vowed to myself that
in spite of all, I would yet raise myself to a position where, in
addition to my good will, I should also have the power to help those
whom I loved.

How oft in my after life have I recurred in memory to this vow! It
seemed so utterly impossible; the object I proposed to attain seemed so
far away; and yet that I now stand where I do I chiefly owe to the
conviction that filled my soul at that moment. So the shipwrecked
mariner, battling with the waves in a frail and leaky skiff, sees but
for a moment the shore where there is safety; but that moment suffices
to show him the course he must steer to escape destruction.

"I must go in," said Paula.

We walked side by side along the path leading down from the Belvedere.
My heart was so full that I could not speak; Paula also was silent. A
twig hung across the path, so low that it would have brushed her head;
I raised it as she passed, and a shower of drops fell upon her. She
gave a little cry, and then laughed when she saw me confused at my
awkwardness.

"That was refreshing," she said.

It sounded as if she were thanking me, though I had really startled
her. I could not help seizing the dear maiden's hand.

"How good you are, Paula," I said.

"And how bad you are," she replied, looking up in my face with a
radiant smile.

"Good-evening!" a clear voice exclaimed close at hand.

The speaker had stepped out of a hedged path that opened at
right-angles to the one in which we were walking, and now stood facing
us in a gay uniform, his left hand on the hilt of his sword, three
white-gloved fingers raised in a foppish salute to the peak of his cap,
gazing curiously at us from his brown eyes, and a half-mocking,
half-vexed smile upon his face, which in the pallid evening light
looked paler and more worn than ever.

"Allow me to present myself," he said--his three fingers still raised
to his cap--"Arthur von Zehren, ensign in the 120th. Have been at the
house already; learned to my regret that my uncle is not perfectly
well; my aunt is not visible; would at least not neglect to pay my
_devoirs_ to my charming cousin."

He said all this in a drawling, affected tone, without looking at me
(who had released Paula's hand at once) or taking the slightest notice
of my presence.

"I am sorry that it has happened so unfortunately, Cousin Arthur," said
Paula. "We did not look for you before next week."

"That was my original plan," replied Arthur; "but my colonel, who is so
good as to take a special interest in me, hastened the issue of my
commission, so that I was able to leave yesterday, and present myself
here to-day. Papa and mamma send kind remembrances to my uncle and my
aunt; they will be here the beginning of next week; hope uncle will be
quite restored by that time. Am curious to see him; they say he is very
like my grandfather Malte, whose picture hangs in the parlor at home.
Would not have known you, dear cousin; you have not the family face;
brown hair and eyes is the Zehren style."

The path was not wide enough for three to walk abreast; so the two went
on before, and I followed at a little distance, but near enough to hear
every word. I had lately been thinking of my former friend with very
mixed feelings; but now as he strutted along before me at the side of
that dear child, pouring his insipid chatter into her ear, calling her
_thou_ and _cousin_, and just now, either accidentally or
intentionally, touching her with his elbow--my feelings were very
unmixed indeed. I could have wrung Master Ensign's dainty little brown
head round in his red collar with extreme satisfaction.

We reached the house.

"I will see if you cannot speak with my mother for a few minutes at
least," said Paula; "please wait an instant here; you have not spoken
to your old friend yet."

Paula ran up the steps; Arthur saluted her--three fingers to his
cap--as she went, and then remained standing with his back to me.
Suddenly he turned upon his heel so as to face me, and said in his most
insolent tone:

"I will now bid you good-day; but I request you to observe that before
third parties we have no acquaintance--I presume I need not enter into
details why this is so."

Arthur was a head shorter than I, and he had to look up in my face
while he pronounced these severe words. This circumstance was not in
his favor; rudenesses are much best said from above; and it struck me
so ludicrously that this little fellow, whom I could have tumbled over
with a light push, should puff himself up to this extent before me,
that I laughed aloud.

An angry flush crimsoned Arthur's pale cheek.

"It seems you mean to insult me," he said; "happily in my position I
cannot be insulted by a person like you. I have already heard on what
footing you stand here; my uncle will have the choice between me and
you. I do not imagine that it will be a difficult one."

I no longer laughed. I had loved this youth with more than brotherly
affection; I had, so to speak, knelt and worshipped him; I had rendered
him a vassal's faithful service; had good-naturedly accompanied him in
all his follies, and taken--how often!--their punishment upon myself. I
had guarded and protected him in every danger; had shared with him all
that I possessed, only his share was always by far the larger--and now,
now, when I was in misfortune and he luxuriating in the sunshine of
prosperity, now he could speak to me thus! I could scarcely understand
it; but what I did understand was inexpressibly odious to me. I gazed
at him with a look before which any other would have lowered his eyes,
turned my back upon him and went. A peal of derisive laughter resounded
behind me.

"Laugh away!" I said to myself; "he laughs best who laughs last."

But when I thought of Paula's behavior during this interview, I felt
that it might well have been different. I thought she might have taken
my side more openly. She well knew how Arthur had abandoned me as soon
as I fell into misfortune; how he had had no single cheering word for
his old companion when in prison; yes, had even openly renounced me,
and blackened my name with calumny like the rest.

"That was not right--that was very ill done of Arthur," she had said to
me more than once; and now--I was very dissatisfied with Paula.

I was now to have opportunities enough for dissatisfaction; for in
truth, all things taken together, the time which followed was an
unhappy time for me. Arthur presented himself on the following day, and
was received by the superintendent in his sick-room, and by all the
family, in the most friendly manner. I, who had always stood so much
alone, possessed in but slight degree the family feeling, the respect
for the claims of kindred, and could not comprehend that the mere
accident of the identity of name and origin could in itself have such
importance as was manifestly conceded to it here. "Dear nephew," said
the superintendent and Frau von Zehren; "Cousin Arthur," said Paula;
and "Cousin Arthur," shouted the boys. And in truth, Nephew Arthur and
Cousin Arthur was amiability itself. He was respectful to his uncle,
attentive to his aunt, full of chivalrous politeness to Paula, and
hand-and-glove with the boys. I observed all from a distance. The
superintendent still had to keep his room; and I took that for a
pretext for working more diligently than ever in the office, which I
quitted as seldom as possible, and where I buried myself in my lists
and drawings, in order to see and hear nothing of what was going
forward.

Unhappily, I still heard and saw too much. The weather had cleared up
again, and a lovely latter-autumn, peculiar to this region, followed
the stormy weather. The boys had holiday, the family scarcely left the
garden, and Cousin Arthur was always of the company. Cousin Arthur must
have had precious little to do; the colonel deserved arrest for letting
his ensigns run wild in this fashion!

Alas, imprisonment had not changed me for the better, as I sometimes
flattered myself. When before had even a feeling of envy or of grudging
arisen in my soul? When had I ever disavowed my motto, "Live and let
live?" And now my heart beat with indignation whenever, raising my
eyes, I saw Arthur in the garden stroking the little moustache that
began to darken his lip, or heard his clear voice. I grudged him his
little dark moustache; as a prisoner I could wear no beard, and mine
would anyhow have been of a very pronounced red. I grudged him his
clear voice; my own was deep, and had grown very rough since I had left
off singing. I grudged him his freedom, which, in my eyes, he so
shamefully abused. I almost grudged him his life. Had he not wretchedly
darkened my own life, which of late had been so pleasantly lightened,
and was he not joyously basking in the sunshine from which he had
expelled me?

And yet I had no real ground to complain. The superintendent, who
recovered from his attack less rapidly than we had hoped, but
occasionally came into the office, was as sympathizing and kind as
ever; and after I had persistently, for one or two weeks, declined
under various pretexts the invitations to join them in the garden, I
had no right to be surprised if Frau von Zehren and Paula at last grew
weary of troubling themselves about me, and the boys preferred their
lively cousin Arthur, who taught them their drill, to the melancholy
George, who no longer played with them. In my eyes, however, they had
simply abandoned me; and I should have fallen into mere despair, had I
not possessed two friends who held fast to me, and secretly or openly
espoused my cause.

These two friends were Doctor Snellius and Sergeant Süssmilch.

As for the sergeant, Master Ensign had got into his black book on the
second day. In his familiar fashion, he had clapped him on the
shoulder, and called him "Old fellow." "One is not an old fellow for
such youngsters as that," said the honest sergeant, as, his face still
red with anger, he told me of the affront he had just received. "One
might have a major's epaulettes on the shoulders to-day, if one had
chosen--will let the youngster see that one is not a bear with seven
senses."

The doctor too had his complaint of the insolence of the new-comer. He
was walking in the garden one evening, his hat in his hand as usual,
when Arthur must show his wit in various allusions to the baldness of
the worthy man, and finally asked him in the politest manner, if he had
never tried Rowland's Oil of Macassar, whose extraordinary virtues he
had frequently heard celebrated.

"What do you think of that?" asked the doctor. "I replied to him that I
made all the jests upon my bald head myself, and desired no
competition. You will say that was rude--or you will not say it, for
you like this glib-tongued, insinuating, slippery specimen of his
charming species as little as I do. And the Jack-Pudding will not be at
the end of his part so soon, either. Our humane friend holds it his
duty to practise a truly Arabian hospitality to a kinsman, especially
if he be poor; and the steuerrath, I hear, is in a miserable strait. My
only consolation is that this pitcher too will go to the well until it
breaks."

"How about the family conference?" I asked.

"Will be solemnly opened to-morrow. _Humanus_ has invited them all to
take up lodgings with him. Our half-pay friend has accepted, naturally;
but what I am surprised at is, that so has the other, the Cr[oe]sus,
and not only for himself, but for his golden daughterkin and her
governess. There are one--two--five persons, who will shortly enliven
our solitude in the most charming manner. My notion is that one or two
deserve to remain here forever."

Thus crowed Doctor Snellius, then hopped on another leg and tuned
himself down. I, for my part, was not a little excited at the report of
the speedy arrival of the long-expected guests. Already had Arthur's
presence placed a restraint upon me; what would it be when all these
came? How should I meet the steuerrath?--how the commerzienrath? The
one that had so shamefully abused the generosity of his nobler brother,
and the other that had traded so skilfully in the embarrassments in
which his incautious nature had involved him. My aversion to the pair
was of ancient date, and but too well founded. But why should I in any
way come in contact with them? If I did not come to them, they would
hardly hunt me up. To be sure, there was the little Hermine! Had she
still the same corn-flower blue eyes as on that morning on the deck of
the _Penguin_? And the sententious governess, did she still wear those
yellow locks? It was a bright sunny day when I last saw them both; but
the sun had set too soon, and the evening closed in rain--in rain and
dark mist, through which the face of my father, pale with anger, looked
threateningly at me.

"Why do you sigh?" asked Doctor Snellius, who in the meantime had been
examining a ground-plan on which I had been working for the last few
days. "Your progress is perfectly fabulous; I should never have
believed that so neat and charming a piece of work could come from the
hands of a mammoth. Good-by, mammoth!"

The good doctor shook my hand cordially and hopped out of the room. I
gazed sadly after him, as sadly as if I had really been a mammoth, and
knew that I was doomed to lie for thirty thousand years under snow and
ice, and to be afterwards exhibited, stuffed, in a museum.



                              CHAPTER XI.


My wish and my hope to be allowed to keep out of sight during the
family conference, were to be frustrated in the most singular manner. I
was appointed to play a part, and no insignificant one, in the family
drama.

The guests had arrived, and were comfortably accommodated in the
superintendent's not very roomy house. In the evening all had met at
the table. Doctor Snellius also being present. Early the next morning
he came to me, to disburden his full heart.

The worthy doctor was under considerable excitement. I perceived that
at his first word, which was pitched a full third higher than usual.

"I knew it," he said. "It was perfect idiotcy to invite this swarm of
locusts; they will utterly devour my poor _Humanus_, who has not so
many green leaves left. What sort of a company is this? You have not
told me a hundredth part of the evil that even a lamb-like disposition
such as mine can, and must, and will say of these people. People! It is
scandalous how we misuse that word. Why people? Because they go upon
two legs? Then the revolting creatures that Gulliver saw in the land of
the noble horses, were people too. But the English skeptic knew better,
and called them Yahoos. And such are our dear guests, or there is no
such thing as natural history. The commerzienrath with his great
paunch, and his cunning, blinking eyes, is one. I could but look at his
short clumsy fingers; I believe the fellow has worn them off handling
his gold. And the steuerrath is another, though he makes desperate
efforts to appear a human being. He has long fingers, very long; but
does a human being ever twist such long fingers about in that fashion,
curve his back with such a cat-like pliancy, and wear such a white,
smooth, smiling, false thief's face? As for the gracious born Baroness
Kippenreiter, any one will believe at her first word that she has held
a high place in the republic of those fascinating creatures, and only
came to Europe by the last ship. She cannot deny her nature; her Yahoo
origin grins unmistakably from her long yellow teeth. Hm, hm, hm!"

"And Fräulein Duff?" I asked.

"Duff?" cried he--"Who is Fräulein Duff?"

"The governess of the little Hermine."

"Of the little beauty whom I was called to attend? Her name is Fräulein
Duff? A very good name! Might be _Duft_ [perfume], and would then be
still more suitable. Mignonnette blooming in pots, and dried between
flannel-jackets in a bureau-drawer; faded ribbons, tarnished leaves of
albums, and a little ring of gold which did not even snap when the
faithless lover deserted his Elvira. Is not her name Elvira? It must
be. Amalie, you say? Certainly an error of the press; nothing about her
to remind one of _The Robbers_--unless it be her long, languishing
ringlets, which assuredly are stolen."

"Why were you called into the little girl?"

"She had eaten too many apple-tarts on the road. As if such a thing
could hurt a little millionairess! Oh, if it had been black bread, now!
I said so to the sorrowing father. 'In all her life she never tasted a
crumb of black bread,' the monster replied, patting his protuberant
paunch. 'Who never ate his bread with weeping,' sighed the governess,
and added, 'that is an eternal truth.' The deuce only knows what she
meant."

The doctor went to visit his patients; I started for the office,
keeping close to the wall, and slipped into the house through the
back-door, for fear of being noticed by some one of the guests. But no
one saw me.

However, in the course of the day I caught sight of them from my
window. First, the commerzienrath, taking his morning promenade through
the garden, a long pipe in his mouth. He seemed to be pondering over
important things. From time to time he stopped, and gazed long into
vacancy. Doubtless, he was calculating. I observed how with his stumpy
fingers he was multiplying, and then wrote the product in the air with
the end of his pipe-stem. Once his face puckered into a grin of
delight; what could he have reckoned out?

The next was the steuerrath. He went an hour later, with his brother,
through the garden. The steuerrath was speaking very animatedly; he
several times laid his right hand upon his breast, as if in
asseveration. The superintendent's eyes were dropped; the subject of
the conversation seemed to distress him. When they came near my window,
he looked across with apparent uneasiness, and drew his brother behind
a hedge. Apparently he did not wish me to witness his brother's
gesticulations.

I had bent over my work again with the painful feeling that I was a
superfluity and in the way, when suddenly the door leading from the
office into the garden was opened, and the steuerrath hastily entered.
I was startled, as even a man of courage is startled when unexpectedly
a serpent glides across his path. The steuerrath smiled very
benignantly, and held out to me his white well-kept hand, which he
again withdrew with a graceful wave, as I showed no disposition to take
it.

"My dear young friend," he said, "must we meet again _thus_?"

I made him no answer; what could I answer to a phrase in which every
word and every tone was a lie?

"How would I deplore your fate," he proceeded, "had not fortune brought
you here to my brother, who without doubt is one of the noblest and
best of men alive, and who even now, while we were walking there, has
said so many kind and affectionate things of you. I was impelled to
offer you my hand, although I had a presentiment that you, like your
father, would turn from one whom in truth fortune has bitterly enough
persecuted."

And the victim of fortune threw himself into an arm-chair, and covered
his eyes with his long white hand, the ring-finger of which was adorned
with an enormous signet.

"I do not reproach him for it: Heaven forbid! I have known him for so
many years. He is one of those strict men, whose horror of dereliction
to duty is so great, and at the same time so blind, that in their eyes
an accused person always appears a guilty one."

The last observation was too just for me not to admit it inwardly; and
probably my look expressed as much, for the steuerrath said with a
melancholy smile:

"Yes, you can sing a sad song to that tune! Well, well, I will not
chafe the wound which pains you more than all the rest; but in truth
you have only early learned what sooner or later we must all learn,
that we can least expect a correct construction of our views and
intentions, and even of our position, from those who stand in the
closest relation to us."

In this too there was truth; and I could not refrain from looking in a
more friendly manner at the man.

"I have just now had proof of this. My brother Ernest is, as I have
already said, one of the best of men; and yet what trouble does it not
give him to place himself in my situation. To be sure, he has always
lived with so much regularity that he does not know what it is in one
night to lose the half of one's receipts, which are anyhow dealt out in
such stinted measure; he does not know what it is to have to compromise
with one's creditors--to risk one's own subsistence and that of others,
alas! and what is bitterest of all, to be dependent on the good-will of
a hard-hearted man of money!"

Here the white hand wiped a tear which seemed to have accumulated in
the inner corner of his right eye, and then resignedly glided to his
lap, while a mild smile stole over his aristocratic features.

He rose and said:

"Forgive me; but an unfortunate one feels himself irresistibly
attracted to the unhappy, and you have always been a friend of my
house, and the best companion of my Arthur. You must not take it ill of
the poor youth, if pride in his new sword has turned his head a little.
You know him; hardly once in ten times does his heart know what his
tongue is saying; and he has already owned to me that in the notion
that he owed it to his dignity as an ensign, he behaved very foolishly
to you. You really must forgive him."

He smiled again, nodded to me, was about to offer his hand again, but
remembered that I had refused it before, and withdrew it, smiled again,
but very sadly, and went to the garden door, which he opened softly and
softly closed behind him.

I looked after him with a mingled feeling of astonishment and contempt.
Was this soft-speaking man, who in my presence could weep over his
position, the same to whom as a boy I had looked up as to a superior
being? And if his case was so desperate--and as far as I could learn it
might very well be so--I might have behaved in a more friendly manner
to him, might have afforded him a word of sympathy, above all, need not
have repulsed his offered hand.

My face burned; it was the first time I had ever rudely repelled a
supplicant. I asked myself again whether imprisonment had not corrupted
me; and I was glad that I had kept so silent in regard to the relations
between the steuerrath and his deceased brother, and especially that I
had faithfully guarded the secret of that letter, even from the
superintendent, in whom, in all other respects, I place unbounded
confidence. Had the steuerrath a suspicion that I could have revealed
something had I chosen? and had he come this morning to thank me for my
silence?

The steuerrath appeared at once to me in an entirely different and much
more favorable light We feel a certain inclination towards persons whom
we have laid under obligation, if they are acute enough to let us
perceive that they are penetrated by the feeling of that obligation.

I would also let Arthur see that I had forgiven his folly.

The steuerrath is right, I thought; not once in ten times does he know
where his tongue is running to.

As I formed this magnanimous resolution, there came another knock--this
time at the door that led into the hall, and I came very near laughing
aloud when upon my calling "Come in!" the commerzienrath presented
himself on the threshold; not this time in dressing-gown and slippers,
with his long pipe in his hand as before, but in a blue frock-coat with
gold buttons, a wide black neckcloth, out of which projected fiercely,
at least four inches, the long points of his high-standing collar, a
flowered waistcoat loose enough not to incommode his prominent paunch,
nor interfere with the display of his neatly-ironed frill, black
trousers which were not so long but that one might see how firmly his
two flat feet stood in the shining boots. In this very costume did this
man pervade all the recollections of my earliest youth; and perhaps it
was because then, in my childish innocence, I had laughed at his
grotesque appearance, that now, when to say the least such behavior was
far more unbecoming, I was again seized with an impulse to laughter.

"How are you now, my dear young friend?" said the commerzienrath, in
the tone with which one inquires into the state of some one on his
death-bed.

"I thank you for your kind inquiry, Herr Commerzienrath; I am quite
well, as you see."

"You are a tremendous fellow," cried the commerzienrath, taking his
tone from me at once. "But that is right; we can live but once; one
must take things as they come. I said as much to your father only
yesterday, when I met him upon the street. 'Good heavens!' I said, 'why
do you make such a terrible matter of it? We have all been young once;
and young men will be young men. Why have you stopped his allowance?' I
asked. 'He is not condemned to hard labor; he has not forfeited the
right to wear the national cockade; he is only imprisoned. That might
happen to any one; and you,' I said, 'are such an honorable man that it
would be an honor to us all to play Boston with you, even if you had
four sons in the penitentiary.'"

The commerzienrath's head sank again upon one side; it is possible that
at his last words my face assumed a grave expression.

"To be sure," said he, "there are many that take it more easily. There
is my brother-in-law. I would not be in his shoes although his father
was a nobleman of the empire and mine only an ordinary needleman. The
investigation let him off, but it was with a black eye. Any one would
suppose he had had enough of intriguing for his life-time; but he
cannot keep out of it. Great heavens, it is a shame, the amount that
his family has cost me already. Would you believe it, that I had to pay
for my wife's trousseau out of my own pocket? Then the one at
Zehrendorf and his drafts! By the way, did he ever tell you that he had
assigned all Zehrendorf to me, years ago? Try to think; he must have
mentioned it to you on some occasion or other. He was not one of those
that keep their mouths close shut. And there's the steuerrath! What
have I not already done for the man; and now these pretensions of his!
Indemnification! A man must live; and if one has not a son, who
naturally could not be set to earn his own living, still one has a
daughter that one does not want to let starve. You must try to get out
of here, my boy. The girl asks after you ten times a day. You have
bewitched her, you rascal you!"

And the commerzienrath, who had arisen and was standing by me with his
hat and stick in his hand, gave me a little poke in the ribs.

"The Fräulein is very kind," I said.

"Look there now, how you blush!" said the commerzienrath; "quite right;
I like that. Respect for the ladies; don't be an idle coxcomb; a fellow
of that sort is worth nothing all his life. But you must not call my
Hermann Fräulein; Fräulein Duff will never allow that; she must be
called Fräulein herself, though she would give her two little fingers
if she did not need to be called Mamsell or Fräulein any longer."

The commerzienrath winked as he said this, puffed out his cheeks, and
gave me another little poke.

"I shall hardly have the opportunity," I said.

"Pooh!" said the commerzienrath, "don't be tragic. We are to ourselves
here. I spoke with my brother-in-law to-day about it; you must
take supper with us this evening. Hermann--you know I call her
Hermann--wants particularly to see you. Adieu!"

And he kissed the tips of his clumsy fingers and left the room, giving
me another wink as he passed out at the door.

What was the meaning of these visits? What did the ceremonious
steuerrath and the purse-proud commerzienrath want with me, a prisoner?
I might have racked my brain in vain for a solution of the enigma, had
not the superintendent, who came into the office that afternoon, let
fall a word which gave me the key to the mystery.

"I wish the next three days were over," said he. "You would not
believe, my dear George, how repulsive to me are all these
transactions, which have no material interest for me. They really only
want me to act as umpire, and flatter me in the hope of influencing my
decision beforehand. And if I could only decide--but how is that
possible in this case where the parties themselves do all they can to
obscure the matter? They count upon you, my dear George, as you are the
only one who was near my unhappy brother in the latter part of his
life, and thus may possibly be able to give information on some points
that need to be cleared up. And now come with me into the garden.
Snellius and you must help me to entertain the company. My poor wife
and I will really not be able to go through with it."

Smiling as he said these words, he took my arm and let me assist him
down the steps into the garden and up the path to the Belvedere, from
which even at a distance there reached us the joyous clamor of
children. It was the first time since my misfortunes that I had gone
into society. I had learned while in prison many things of which I was
proud, but also one of which I was ashamed, namely, the agitation that
overcame me as I heard nearer and nearer the voices of the speakers,
and saw the dresses of the ladies glancing through the hedge, already
thinned by the autumn winds.

I had cause to be content with my reception: the boys rushed at me, and
Kurt cried that I must play with them, for Cousin Arthur kept with
Hermine and Paula, and that was tiresome; and Hermine anyhow was only
ten years old, and did not need to be so proud.

"Hermine is not proud, but you are too wild," said Paula, who was
holding Hermine's hand, while Arthur kept a little in the background
and twirled his little sprout of a moustache with visible
embarrassment.

I caught up the boys and tossed each in succession high in the air, to
conceal my confusion as well as I could, while I kept my eyes fixed
upon Hermine. It was really not possible to find anything more dainty
and charming than this beautiful creature, in her white dress, which
again was trimmed with cornflower blue ribbons, as when I saw her on
the steamer. And her great blue eyes looked as eagerly at me, and her
red lips were half parted, as if she had suddenly caught sight of the
prince of a fairy-tale.

"Is that he?" I heard her whisper to Paula, "and can he really conquer
lions?"

I did not catch Paula's answer to this singular question, for I had now
to turn to Frau von Zehren, who sat between her sister-in-law and
Fräulein Duff on the bench. Frau von Zehren looked paler than usual,
and her poor blind eyes turned with an appealing look towards me, while
a painfully-confused smile played about her lips.

She offered me her hand at once, and half arose from the bench, but
remembered that she must remain sitting, and smiled yet more sadly.

I wished the born Baroness Kippenreiter, with her long yellow teeth,
and the governess, with her long yellow ringlets, who were both staring
at me through their eye-glasses, a thousand miles away.

The superintendent had now joined us, and said: "Will you not take my
arm awhile, Elise? You will be chilled; the ladies will certainly
excuse you."

"Oh, allow me to walk with our dear friend," cried the born
Kippenreiter, springing up with decision. The superintendent slightly
shrugged his shoulders.

"You are not one of the most robust yourself, dear sister-in-law," he
said.

"I am strong whenever duty calls," cried the born Kippenreiter, drawing
Frau von Zehren away with her.

"That is a grand expression!" sighed Fräulein Duff. "Happy he who can
say that of himself!" and the pale governess shook her yellow locks in
a dejected way, then turned her dim eyes on me, and lisped:

"Richard--ah, just as in the old story! Alas that the Blondel is
wanting! But do not despair; faithfully seek, and thou shalt find at
last; that is an immortal truth."

"How are you, Fräulein Duff?" I asked, merely to say something.

"And still this charming quality of taking an interest in the welfare
of others, with all his own misfortunes! That is beautiful! that is
great!" whispered the governess. "I must, indeed I must, make an
attempt to creep into your heart----"

She laid the tips of three fingers upon my arm and pointed shyly with
her parasol in the direction which the company, who had now left the
place under the plane-trees, had taken.

"And how do you live here?" she again whispered, as we descended into
the garden. "But why need I ask--calm and free from care as William
Tell. Life here is an idyll. Do not talk to me of a prison! The whole
world is a prison; no one knows that better than I."

"I should have thought, Fräulein Duff, that the education of so
charming a creature----"

"Yes, she is charming," replied the pale lady, with a flush of real
emotion, "lovely as a May morning, but you can understand--the
undisturbed happiness of life--that this child should have such a----"

She looked cautiously around, and then continued in a hollow voice:

"Only think! he calls her Hermann, and asks three times a day why she
is not a-- _Fi donc!_ I cannot utter it. Oh, it lacerates my heart that
such rough hands should clutch the delicate chords of this virgin soul!
The world loves to blacken whatever is bright and fair; who knows not
that? but at least her own father--but I am the last who should
complain of him. He has--you are a noble soul, Carlos; I cast myself
upon your breast--he has awakened hopes in me which would render giddy
a soul less strong than mine. To acquire a million is great; to throw
it away is godlike--and to be the mother of this child, I often think,
must be heavenly; but what will you say to my always talking of myself?
what will you say to your satirical friend?"

"My satirical friend?"

Fräulein Duff stepped a pace backward, shaded her eyes from the rays of
the evening sun with her transparent hand, and said with a coquettish
smile:

"Carlos, you are playing false. Confess now you want to escape me by
this serpentine turning. There is but one here to whom this description
applies, but he is a giant--in intellect! It is immense--sublime! it
really overcame me! And you call such a giant your friend, and yet
complain that you are in a prison! Oh, my dear friend, who would not
willingly exchange his freedom for your imprisonment, to win
such a friend as this!"

Fräulein Duff pressed her handkerchief to her eyelids, and then gave a
loud shriek as she felt herself seized fast from behind, and turning
saw Hermine's little spaniel, who had fastened his sharp teeth in the
skirt of her dress, and looked at her with a malevolent expression in
his great black eyes. At the same moment the whole company came up, so
that the governess had suddenly quite a concourse of spectators to her
combat with the little long-haired monster. I endeavored to release
her, and only made matters worse; Zerlina would not let go, and shook
and tore with all her strength; the boys pretended to help me, and
secretly urged her on; no one could keep from laughing, and the
commerzienrath literally roared. Nothing remained for Fräulein Duff,
under these circumstances, but to swoon away, and fall into the arms of
Doctor Snellius, who just then came up, attracted by the noise.

"Do not be alarmed, ladies and gentlemen," said the commerzienrath,
"this happens three times every day."

"Barbarian!" murmured the fainting damsel, with pale lips, and raised
herself from the arms of the doctor, who, despite the sublimity
attributed to him, wore at this moment a very sheepish look. Fräulein
Duff strove to cast, through the tears that dimmed her water-blue eyes,
an annihilating look at the mocker, declined the doctor's proffered arm
with the words, "I thank you, but I need no assistance to the house,"
and hastened away, holding her handkerchief to her face, while Zerlina
capered around her little mistress with joyous barkings and triumphant
flourishings of her bushy tail.

"I think she will lose her wits one of these days," said the
commerzienrath, as a sort of explanation of the scene which had just
occurred.

"So much the more should you spare her, especially in the presence of
others," said the superintendent.

I had seized this opportunity to make my escape from the company, and
was wandering about in the farther walks of the garden, when I saw
Paula and Hermine approaching at a little distance. Paula had laid her
hand on the little maid's shoulder, who, in her turn, had wound one arm
round her cousin's waist. Hermine was looking up in Paula's face, and
speaking with great animation, while Paula smiled in a friendly manner,
and said from time to time something which seemed to call forth
vehement opposition from the little maid.

The lovely child of ten years, with her glossy brown hair, and her
great sparkling blue eyes, her bright little face beaming with
animation, and the slender maiden of fifteen, with the gentle smile on
her delicate lips--both these beautiful figures illuminated by the
ruddy glow of an autumn sunset--how often has this picture recurred to
my memory in later years!

And now they caught sight of me. I heard Paula say: "Ask him then
yourself," and Hermine answered, "And so I will!"

She let Paula go, came springing up to me, stood before me looking
fearlessly at me with her great eyes, and asked:

"Can you conquer lions, or can you not?"

"I think not," I answered; "but why?"

"Yes or no?" she asked, giving the least possible stamp of her little
foot.

"Well then, no!"

"But you ought to," she replied, with an indignant look. "I wish it."

"If you wish it, I will do my very best, the first chance that offers."

"Do you see, Paula," said the little maid, turning to her with a
triumphant look. "I told you so! I told you so!" and she clapped her
hands and sprang about like a little Bacchante, and then ran scampering
over the flower-beds, Zerlina following her with loud barkings.

"What did the child mean with her curious question?" I asked Paula.

"It seems that Fräulein Duff keeps comparing you to Richard the
Lion-heart," replied Paula, with a smile.

"With Richard the Lion-heart--me?"

"Yes, because you are blond, and so tall and strong, and a prisoner; so
Hermine has taken it into her head that you must be able to conquer
lions. Whether she is in earnest or in jest, I doubt whether she knows
herself. But I wanted to thank you for joining us in the garden to-day.
It was kind of you; for I could see that you were not at ease in the
company."

"And you, yourself?"

"I must not ask the question. They are our relations."

"Of course that excuses everything."

I said this not without some bitterness, with a reference to her
friendship to Arthur; but I felt ashamed of myself when she raised her
sweet, gentle eyes to my face and innocently asked:

"What do you mean?"

Happily I was spared the necessity of an answer, for Doctor Snellius
came up at the moment, calling "Fräulein Paula! Fräulein Paula!" while
he was yet at a distance.

"I must go in," said Paula; "there are many things to see to; and I beg
you do not look so angry. You have been of late not so friendly as
usual; are you displeased with me?"

I had not the courage to answer "Yes!" when I looked into the earnest
fade that was lifted to mine.

"Who could be that?" I said. "You are a thousand times better than all
of us."

"That she is, God bless her!" said Doctor Snellius, who had caught the
last words.

He looked after her as she hastened away, and a deep and sorrowful
shade passed over his grotesque face. Then with both hands he draped
his hat over his bald skull down to his very ears, and said in a tone
of irritation:

"The devil take it! She is far too good; she is so good that she can
only meet with trouble. The time is past--if; there ever was such a
time--when all things worked together for good to the good man. One
must be bad--thoroughly bad; one must flatter, lie, cheat, trip up his
neighbor, regard the whole world as his private inheritance which by
neglect has fallen into alien hands, and which is to be won back again.
But to do this one must be brought up to it, and how are we brought up?
As if life were one of Gessner's idylls. Modesty, love of our
neighbors, love of truth! Let any one try it with this outfit! Is the
commerzienrath modest? Does he love his neighbor? Does he love the
truth? Not one whit And the man is a millionaire, and his neighbors
pull off caps when they meet him, and fame proclaims him one of the
noblest of human-kind, because from time to time he tosses a _thaler_
that will not go into his crammed purse, into a poor man's hat. But you
will say he has his punishment in his own breast. Much of it! He
considers himself a thoroughly good man, a splendid fellow, full of
humor, and when at night he lies down in his bed to snore his eight
hours, he says, 'This you have honestly earned.' Away with your
starving, hectic honesty!"

"I did not say a word in its favor, doctor."

"But while I was declaiming you kept on smiling, as if you would have
said: 'But you are dishonest.' Do you see, that is just my vexation.
With this wretched bringing-up of ours, one is filled so with honest
notions that one cannot be a scoundrel, however good his intentions,
but has to keep honest, in spite of his better insight. And if we
cannot get over this, how can women?"

The doctor looked fixedly in the direction in which Paula had
disappeared, and then took off his great, round spectacles, the glasses
of which seemed to have become dim.

"You must not abuse the women, doctor," I said. "Fräulein Duff----"

"Has made me a formal proposal," said Doctor Snellius, hastily putting
on his spectacles, "and here comes somebody who will make you one.
Beware of this Greek in uniform."

The doctor clapped his hat upon his head and hurried away, without
returning the very friendly salute with which Arthur approached us from
a side path.

"I am glad that he is gone," said Arthur, coming to my side and taking
my arm just as in old times; "I have something to say to you, or rather
I have something to beg of you; my father has already done it, it is
true; but it can do no harm if I repeat it. You know what I mean."

"Yes," I answered.

"I behaved like a fool, I know," the ensign continued; "but you must
really not think too hardly of me. I thought it was due to this thing
here----" and he gave his sword a kind of toss with his left leg.

"Arthur," I said, stopping and withdrawing my arm, "I am not quite so
clever as you, but you must not consider me an absolute fool. You
separated yourself from me, long before you had that toasting-iron at
your side. You did it because you had no further use for me, because it
suited your purpose to join the hue and cry against me, because--"

"Well, yes," interrupted Arthur, "I don't deny it. I was in such an
infernally dependent position that I had to howl with the wolves. If I
had spoken out my real feelings, Lederer would have surely plucked me
at the Easter Examination, and my uncle would never have paid for my
ensign's outfit."

"And now," I said, "it seems the wind blows from another quarter, and
we must trim our sails accordingly."

"Oh, hang it!" said Arthur, laughing, "you must not bring a fellow to
book in that way. I often say things that I cannot maintain. You always
knew that was a weakness of mine, and yet you used to like me. I have
not changed, and why are you angry with me all at once? You may believe
that I am still the same, notwithstanding my new caparison, which, by
the way, I am not likely to wear so very much longer. It cost no end of
trouble to get me the appointment; the colonel told me himself that he
only did it out of regard for my uncle, who was his comrade in the war
for freedom, and that on this account he would shut his eyes a little
to his duty, and take no notice of the reports that were afloat about
my father. But even as it is I am not out of the woods yet. Papa's
affairs are in such a frightful condition that no creditor is willing
to give him the least delay; and unless things now take a favorable
turn, he is ruined, and I of course with him; my name will be struck
off the list of candidates for promotion."

"What is this favorable turn to consist in?" I asked.

"Well, I don't precisely know myself," Arthur replied, decapitating
some weeds with the scabbard of his sword. "Uncle Commerzienrath has to
pay over to papa his share of the inheritance, left by my grandfather,
which papa has never received; and also what is coming to us from Uncle
Malte's estate. But the old Judas will pay nothing; he says papa has
been paid already five and ten times over. As I said, I don't
understand it; I only know that I never received a _groschen_ of cash
from my uncle, and I even envy my servant-fellow, who at least has
enough to eat."

I took a side look at my old friend; he did look extremely pale and
thin. My own appetite had long since recovered its vigor, and not to
have enough to eat, struck me as a most serious misfortune.

"Poor fellow!" I said, and took his arm again, which I had previously
let go.

"But that is the least," continued Arthur, in a querulous tone. "'Your
father is always running in debt,' the colonel said; 'as soon as I see
that you are following in his footsteps, we shall have to part.' But I
ask you now, how with a couple of groschen a day can one avoid running
into debt? To-morrow I have to meet a little note which a villain of a
Jew swindled me out of. I spoke of it to papa and to mamma, and they
both say they have not money enough to take them home, not to speak of
giving me any. I must get out of the scrape as best I can. Very well; I
will get out of it, but in another way."

And the ensign whistled softly, and assumed a look of gloomy
desperation.

"How much do you need, Arthur!" I asked.

"A mere trifle--twenty-five _thalers_."

"I will give it to you."

"You?"

"I have about so much in the cashier's hands here; and if it falls a
little short, he will give me credit."

"Will you really do that, you dear good old George?" cried Arthur,
seizing both my hands and shaking them again and again.

"But don't make such a fuss about it," I said, trying with very mixed
feelings to escape the ensign's rather too exuberant gratitude.



                              CHAPTER XII.


The two brothers Von Zehren, with the commerzienrath, were occupied for
an hour the next morning in a conference which was the object of this
family gathering. The session must have been a lively one. The room in
which they were was just above the office, and although the house was
solidly built, I had more than once heard the shrill voice of the
commerzienrath. I felt a sort of disquiet, as if my own fortunes were
the matter at stake. Had I not been, by the strangest combination of
circumstances, held as it were perforce in connection with this family?
I had taken an active part, as a friend and confident, in the most
important events connected with it; and my own fate had been entirely
determined by these events and my relation to various members of
the family. If Arthur had not wanted to have me with him at the
oyster-feast on board the _Penguin_ that morning--if I had not met
the Wild Zehren at Pinnow's that evening after the scene with my
father--if----

"The gentlemen upstairs would like to see us," said Sergeant Süssmilch,
thrusting his gray head in at the door.

"Well!" said I, laying the pen from my hand, not without a little
quickening of my pulse.

"Well, what?" asked the sergeant, coming in and latching the door after
him.

"Well, I had hoped that they would not want me," I said, getting down
from my stool with a sigh.

"Want you for what?" asked the veteran, stroking his long moustache and
looking at me half angrily.

"It is a long story," I answered, adjusting my necktie at the great
inkstand on the table, which offered me a very distorted reflection of
myself.

"Which one need not tell an old bear with seven senses, as he would not
be able to understand it," answered the sergeant, with a little
irritation in his tone.

"I will tell you another time," I said.

At this moment, in the upper room, two voices were raised so high, and
two chairs were simultaneously pushed back with so much violence, that
the sergeant and I gave each other an expressive look. The sergeant
came close to me and said in a confidential hollow tone:

"Fling both those fellows down the steps, and when they get down to me,
I will pitch them out of the house."

"We'll see about it," I answered, shaking the hand of the old Cerberus,
who had growled these last words apparently from the pit of his
stomach.

When I opened the door of the room upstairs, a peculiar spectacle was
presented to my gaze. The superintendent alone, of the three gentlemen,
sat at the round table, covered with papers of all sorts. The
commerzienrath stood with one hand resting upon the back of his chair,
and with the other gesticulating vehemently at the steuerrath, who,
like one who is eager to speak, and whose adversary will not let him
get in a word, stamped about the room, stood still, raised his hand,
tried to speak, then shrugged his shoulders and stamped about the room
again. No one appeared to notice my entrance but the superintendent,
who beckoned me to him, and then called the commerzienrath's attention
to my presence, but it did not interrupt his harangue.

"And so," he went on, "I am to lie out of my money for eighteen years,
not receiving a _groschen_ of interest, to have such chicanery played
on me at last! You are a man of honor, Herr Superintendent; a man of
honor, I say; and in the whole matter, from the beginning until now,
have behaved as nobly as possible, but that gentleman there----" and
he pointed his clumsy finger at the steuerrath with an energetic
gesture, as if there had been any possibility of mistaking the person
meant--"that gentleman, your brother and my brother-in-law, seems to
have a very peculiar way of looking at money-transactions. Oh yes, it
would suit me exactly to have my goods paid for two or three times
over, only there happen to stand certain passages in the law of the
country----"

"Brother-in-law!" exclaimed the steuerrath, taking a stride towards the
speaker, and raising his hand in a threatening manner.

The commerzienrath sprang with great agility behind a chair, and cried:
"Do you expect to intimidate me? I stand under the protection of the
law----"

"Don't scream so, Herr Commerzienrath," I said, laying my hand upon his
right shoulder, and forcing him down into his chair.

I had noticed that the superintendent's pale cheeks were growing redder
and redder at every word of the furious man, and the marks of pain
under his eyes were becoming more and more apparent.

The commerzienrath rubbed his shoulder, looked at me with an expression
of astonishment, and was silent, just as a screaming child suddenly
stops its crying when something very extraordinary happens to it.

The superintendent smiled, and availing himself of the sudden pause,
said:

"I invited our young friend to come up, because I really did not know
how the question which is the matter of immediate dispute could be
better or more promptly decided; for no one can give us surer
information on this point than he. We want to know, George, what there
was in the house at Zehrendorf: the furniture, the plate, and so forth;
and we should like some account of the condition of the farm buildings,
and as correct an inventory as possible of the live stock and other
property, if you can inform us on this point. Do you think you can do
so?"

"I will try," I said, and gave them as full an account as I could.

While I spoke, the little gray eyes of the commerzienrath were fixed
immovably upon me, and I remarked that as I proceeded with the
description, his puckered face cleared up more and more, while the
steuerrath's grew longer and more confused in the same proportion.

"You see, brother-in-law, that I was right," cried the commerzienrath,
"that----"

"You agreed to leave the management of the matter to me," said the
superintendent; and then turning to the steuerrath: "It appears,
Arthur, that George's account agrees with the inventory which the
commerzienrath had taken three years before, except such trifling
differences as the lapse of time amply explains----"

"And so," cried the commerzienrath, "the money which I lent your
deceased brother upon it, could scarcely have been too little. As my
brother-in-law has not yet given us the proof that the sum which the
deceased paid him, in the year 1818, through my hands, was not an
indemnification for his interest in the estate, he must consent to
admit that even during the life of his brother, I was the legal
proprietor of Zehrendorf, and that his pretensions are illusory,
entirely illusory----"

And the commerzienrath threw himself back in his chair, puckered up his
eyes, and rubbed his hands as if with satisfaction.

"I should have thought," began the steuerrath, with an appearance of
annoyance, "that these things were not precisely suitable to be
discussed in the presence of a third person----"

I arose, with a look at the superintendent.

"Excuse me, my dear Arthur," said the latter, "you not only were
willing but even desirous that we should call in our young friend here;
of course it was to be expected that in his presence many things----"

"----would be spoken of, which would not be particularly agreeable to
the Herr Steuerrath," said the commerzienrath, turning over his papers
with a malicious smile.

"I must entreat you, brother-in-law--" said the superintendent.

"And I must further request," cried the steuerrath, "that these matters
be handled in a more becoming tone. If I pledge my word as a nobleman
that my deceased brother more than once assured me that he had parted
with only a small, the very smallest part of the Zehrendorf forest----"

"So!" cried the commerzienrath; "is that your scheme? First it was the
house, then the inventory, now it is the forest--here is the bill of
sale."

"I beg you," said the steuerrath, pushing away with the back of his
hand the paper which the commerzienrath extended to him across the
table; "I have already taken note of it. This bill, moreover, is not
indisputable."

"It is the handwriting of our brother," said the superintendent, in a
reproachful tone.

"But expressed in such general terms," replied the steuerrath,
shrugging his shoulders.

"Was I to have every tree separately described?" cried the
commerzienrath. "It is unheard of, the way I am treated here. I do not
speak of you, Herr Superintendent. You are a man of honor, every inch
of you; but when I am told here every moment that I must respect the
word of a nobleman, and a paper like this is not of more validity,
which is a nobleman's word too, and written with his own hand----"

The commerzienrath had fallen into a querulous tone.

"Perhaps our young friend here can give us information on this point
too," said the superintendent. "Do you remember, George, to have heard
anything from the mouth of our deceased brother bearing upon the point
at issue?"

The steuerrath cast a quick, anxious look first at me; the
commerzienrath stealthily watched me, and then the steuerrath, as if to
detect the signs of any secret collusion between us; the superintendent
fixed his large, clear blue eyes upon me with a look of inquiry.

"Certainly I can," I answered.

"Well then?" cried the commerzienrath.

I told the gentlemen the expression which the Wild Zehren had used when
he came to my room the morning before his death, that of the whole
majestic forest no part belonged to him, not even enough to make him a
coffin.

My voice faltered as I told this. That morning when I beheld for the
last time the lovely park glittering in the glorious sunshine, the
portrait of the strange man who knew himself utterly ruined, and gave
so passionate an expression to his knowledge--his attitude, his words,
the tone of his voice--all came back to me with irresistible force; I
had to turn away to hide the tears which sprang to my eyes.

"The question is decided for me now, if it were not so before," said
the superintendent, rising and coming to me.

"And for me too," cried the commerzienrath, with a triumphant look at
his adversary.

"But not for me," said the steuerrath. "However disposed I am to place
the fullest confidence in the veracity, or, more accurately, in the
good memory of our young friend here, his recollections differ too
widely from what I have heard from my brother's lips for me to abandon
the ground I have taken. I am sorry to have to be so obstinate, but I
cannot help it. I owe it to myself and to my family. The last eighteen
years of my life are a series of sacrifices made to our eldest brother.
But a few days before his tragical end he appealed to me in the most
moving terms to advance him a considerable sum of money; I ran about
the whole town to get it for him; I came to you also, brother-in-law,
as you doubtless remember. You refused me--and, by the way, not in the
most delicate manner. I wrote to my unfortunate brother that I would
assist him, but he must wait. I adjured him to take no desperate
resolution. He did not regard my entreaties. Had that letter only not
been lost!"

"You have no further occasion for me, Herr Superintendent?" I said,
and, without awaiting his answer, left the room, and hastened to the
office in a state of agitation, at which now I can but smile. What had
happened of so much consequence? A man, speaking of matters of
importance, had been guilty of an audacious lie. Later I discovered
that this is not of such rare occurrence, and in matters of business
lying has a sort of charter; but I was then very young, very
inexperienced, and, I may add, innocent, or my emotion at this moment
could not have been so violent. I stood in the presence of a thing to
me at once horrible and incomprehensible. I could not grasp it. I felt
as if the world was being lifted from its pivots. Once before something
like this had happened to me--when I heard of Constance's flight, and
learned that she had deceived me and lied to me; but there was then
still a kind of palliation for her in my eyes; the passion of love,
which I could understand. But this I did not understand. I could not
conceive how, for a few wretched hundred or thousand dollars, one could
calumniate the dead, defraud the living, and roll one's self in the
mire. But one thing became clear to me at that moment, and all my life
since I have held to the conviction that truth is not a mere form, by
the side of which another might have place, but that it is like nature,
the foundation and the essential condition of human existence; and that
every lie shakes and upheaves this foundation, as far as its influence
reaches.

Since then I have discovered that this influence is not so extremely
wide; that as water naturally seeks its level, so the moral world
continually strives to keep truth erect, and to cancel the injurious
effect of falsehood.

But on this morning this consolatory thought did not present itself to
calm the agitation in my heart. "Liar, hateful, disgusting liar!" I
murmured over and over to myself, "you deserve that I should have you
placed in the pillory; that I should reveal the real contents of the
last letter you wrote to your brother."

I think that if this state of things had continued, I should not have
been able to resist the impulse to revenge Truth on her betrayer,
however foreign to my nature was the part of informer. But I now heard
the gentlemen coming down the stairs, and the next moment the
superintendent entered the office. His cheeks were now as pale as they
had before been flushed; his eyes were glassy, as those of one who has
just undergone an agonizing operation; he tottered to a chair, and sank
into it as I hastened to support him.

After a minute he pressed my hand, assumed an erect position, and said,
smiling:

"Thank you; it is over now. Excuse this weakness, but it has affected
me more powerfully than I had thought. Such a dispute about _yours_ and
_mine_ is always the most disagreeable thing in the world, even when
one looks upon it as a mere spectator; how much more then when the dust
raised is thrown directly into one's face! Well, the matter is ended. I
had proposed a compromise before, and they have agreed to sign it. My
brother, for a very moderate indemnification, gives up all his claims,
which your last words deprived, with me, of all remains of credit. He
calls himself a beggar; but alas! he is not one of those beggars who
might take their place by kings."

The pale man smiled bitterly, and continued in a low tone, as if
talking to himself:

"Thus the last remnant of the inheritance of our ancestors passes out
of our hands. The old time is past--it has lasted too long! I regret
the forest; one does not like to see the trees fall through whose
foliage the earliest morning-ray greeted our childish eyes, and under
whose branches we played our childish sports. And now they will fall;
to their new possessor they are but wood, which he will convert into
money. Money! True, it rules the world, and he knows it; he knows that
the turn has come for him and those like him, and they are now the
knights of the hammer. It is the old game in a somewhat different form.
How long will they play it? Not long, I trust. Then----"

He raised his eyes to me with a long loving look----"then will come our
turn, ours, who have comprehended that there is such a thing as
justice, that this justice cannot be trifled with, and that we must
cleave to and desire with all our souls this justice, which is equity.
Is it not so, George?"



                             CHAPTER XIII.


Doctor Willibrod and I had hoped that, now that their business was at
an end, the burdensome guests who had so long made the superintendent's
house their home, would take their leave; but our hope was to be only
partially fulfilled.

"I do not wish to travel in the company of a man who has made me a
beggar," said the steuerrath.

"Fudge!" said the commerzienrath, coming into the office that
afternoon, in travelling dress, to bid me good-by; "he has been a
beggar all his life. Would you believe it? five minutes ago he was
begging from me again; he has not the money to take him home, I must
advance him a hundred _thalers_. I gave them to him; I shall never see
them again. By the way, I must see _you_ again. Really I like you
better every time I see you; you are a capital fellow."

"You will make but little capital out of me, Herr Commerzienrath."

"Make capital? Very good!" said the jovial old fellow, and poked me in
the ribs. "We shall see, we shall see. Your very first movement when
you leave this place must be to my house. Will soon find something for
you; am planning all sorts of improvements on the estate--here the
commerzienrath shut his eyes--distillery, brick-yard, turf-cutting,
saw-mill--will find a place for you at once. How long have you still to
be here?"

"Six years longer."

The commerzienrath puffed out his cheeks. "Whew! that is an awful time.
Can I do nothing for you? Could I help you up there? A little cash in
hand, eh?"

"I am greatly obliged to you, but cannot expect any advantage from your
exertions."

"Pity, pity! Would have been so glad to prove my gratitude to you. You
have really done me a great service. The man would have given me much
trouble. Would a little money be of service to you? Speak freely. I am
a man of business, and a hundred _thalers_ or so are a trifle to me."

"If we are to part as friends, not another word of that," I said, with
decision.

The commerzienrath hastily thrust back the thick pocketbook which he
had half drawn out of his pocket, and for the greater security buttoned
over it one button of his blue frockcoat.

"A man's free-will is his heaven. Come anyhow and bid my Hermine
good-by. I believe the girl would refuse to start if you do not come to
the carriage. Perhaps you will not do this either."

"Assuredly I will," I answered, and followed the commerzienrath to the
space in front of the house, where already the whole family was
assembled around the great travelling-carriage of the millionaire.
While in his ostentatious way he was boasting of the convenience of the
carriage and the beauty of the two powerful brown horses, who were
lazily switching their long tails about, and at intervals bidding
farewell to the company with clumsy bows and awkward phrases, Hermine
was flitting from one to another, laughing, teasing, romping in rivalry
with her Zerlina, that seemed to be continually in the air, and kept up
the most outrageous barking. In this way she passed me two or three
times, without taking the least notice of me. Suddenly some one touched
my arm from behind. It was Fräulein Duff. She beckoned me, by a look, a
little to one side, and said hurriedly and mysteriously:

"She loves you!"

Fräulein Duff seemed so agitated; her locks, usually so artistically
arranged, fluttered to-day in such disorder about her narrow face; her
water-blue eyes rolled so strangely in their large sockets--I really
believed for a moment that "the good lady had quite lost her modicum of
wits.

"Don't put on such a desperate look, Richard," she said.


          "'From the clouds must fortune fall,
            From the lap of the Immortals.'


"That is an eternal truth, which here once more is proven. She confessed
it to me this morning with such passionate tears; it rent my heart; I
wept with her; I might well do it, for I felt with her.


          "'And I, I too was born in Arcady,
            But the short spring-time brought me only tears.'"


Fräulein Duff wiped her water-blue eyes, and cast a languishing look at
Doctor Snellius, who with a very mixed expression of countenance was
receiving the thanks of the commerzienrath.

"Both youth and man!" she whispered:


          "'The rind may have a bitter taste,
            But surely not the fruit.'


"Good heavens! what have I said! You are in possession of the secret of
a virgin heart. You will not profane it. And now, let us now part,
Richard. One last word: Seek truly and thou shalt find! I come, I
come!"

She turned away, and waving the company a farewell with her parasol,
hurried to the carriage, in which the commerzienrath had already fixed
himself comfortably, while Hermine held her spaniel out at the door and
let it bark. Startled at Fräulein Duffs extraordinary communication, I
had kept in the background; the wild little creature had not a single
look for him whom, according to Fräulein Duff's report, she loved. She
laughed and jested, but at the moment when the horses started, a
painful spasm contracted her charming face, and she threw herself
passionately into her governess's arms to hide the tears that burst
from her eyes.

"Rid of these," said Doctor Snellius; "hope to-morrow we shall send the
others after them."

But the doctor's hope was not fulfilled on the morrow, nor yet on the
next day. Fourteen days passed, and the steuerrath and the born
Baroness Kippenreiter were still the guests of the superintendent.

"I shall poison them if they don't leave soon," crowed the doctor.

"One could turn to a bear with seven senses on the spot," growled the
sergeant.

It was in truth a genuine calamity that had befallen the house of the
excellent man; and we three allies bemoaned it, each in his own way,
but none louder and more passionately than the doctor.

"You will see," he said, "these people will take up their
winter-quarters here. The house is not large, but the hedgehog knows
how to make himself comfortable with the marmot; they are well cared
for, and as for the friendliness of intercourse--though they care less
for that--there is no lack of it. How can _Humanus_ have the patience?
He must have a Potosi at his disposal. For he suffers, very seriously
suffers, under the hypocritical spaniel-like humility of this brotherly
parasite, as does his angelic wife under the sharp claws and yellow
teeth of the born Kippenreiter. Good heavens! that we should breathe
the same air with such creatures--that we must eat from the same dish
with them! What crime have we committed?"

"The born Kippenreiters would say the same thing of us."

"You want to provoke me, but you are right. Doubly right; for the born
Kippenreiters not only say it but act accordingly, and forbid us,
whenever they can, the air that they breathe and the dishes out of
which they eat, without in the least caring whether we suffocate or
starve; indeed most likely with the wish that these events may come to
pass."

"A contribution to the superintendent's hammer and anvil theory," I
said.

The doctor's bald crown glowed a lively red.

"Don't talk to me of this good-natured folly," he cried, in his
shrillest tones. "Whoever is weak or good-natured, or both--and he most
likely will be both--has been hammered by the strong and evil-disposed,
as long as the world stands; and he will continue to be hammered until
water runs up-hill and the lamb eats the wolf. Hammer and anvil! Old
Goethe knew the world, and knew better."

"And what would you do, doctor, if some poor relations took up quarters
with you, and became burdensome to you in time?"

"I? I would--that is a stupid question. I don't know what I would do.
But that proves nothing--nothing at all; or at the most only that I,
spite of all my rhodomontades, am only a wretched piece of anvil. And
finally--yes, now I have it! We are neither relations nor connections
of theirs; we have no consideration to observe, and we must drive them
off."

"A happy thought, doctor!"

"That is it!" said the doctor, and hopped from one leg to other. "I am
ready for anything--for anything! We must spoil their life here,
embitter it, drench it with gall: in a word, make it impossible."

"But how?"

"How? You lazy mammoth! Devise your own scheme. The born Kippenreiter I
take upon myself. She thinks that she has a diseased heart, because she
has a bad one. She is as afraid of death as if she had tried a week's
experiment in the lower regions. She shall believe me."

On the very same day, Doctor Willibrod Snellius commenced his
diabolical plan. Whenever he was within hearing of the born
Kippenreiter he began talking of the circulation of the blood, of
veins, of arteries, of valvular defects, inflammation of the
pericardium, spasm of the heart. He knew, he said, that such
conversation must be wearisome to her ladyship, but he was writing a
monograph on the subject, and out of the fulness of the heart the mouth
speaks. Indeed he could not deny that it was not entirely without a
motive that he had drawn her attention precisely to this point. He
could not and would not positively assert, without a previous and
thorough examination, that the valves of her ladyship's heart were not
performing their functions regularly; but there were certain symptoms
of which probably she might have experienced one or another, and
prudence was not merely the mother of wisdom, but often the bestower
of, if not a long life, at least one lengthened by several years.

The _gnädige_ was by no means a person to whom I felt an especial
inclination, and yet I sometimes felt a kind of pity when I saw how the
unhappy victim twisted and writhed under the knife of her tormentor.
How could she escape him? As a lady who piqued herself upon her
culture, she could not well avoid a scientific conversation; as a guest
of the house she owed consideration to a friend of the family; and in
reality this topic, which she dreaded as a child dreads goblins, had
for her a frightful fascination. She turned pale as often as Doctor
Willibrod entered the room, and yet fixed her small round eyes upon him
with the agonizing look of the bird that sees a serpent gazing into its
nest; she could not resist the attraction, and in a minute she had
beckoned the fearful man to her and asked him how far he had progressed
with his essay.

"It is enough to drive one mad," said Doctor Willibrod; "soon she will
not be able to live without me and my tales of horror. I told her
to-day of the case of a lady, exactly of her age, her mode of life,
habit of body, and so forth, who, while conversing with her physician
about congestions of the heart, was struck with one; she smiles upon me
with pale lips, and is on the verge of fainting--I suppose she is going
to ring for her carriage--and what is the result? 'You must tell me
more about it to-morrow,' she says, and dismisses me with a gracious
wave of her hand."

"She is sword-and-bullet-proof, doctor," I said. "You will not be rid
of her so easily."

"But we _must_ be rid of her, rid of the whole pack," cried the doctor.
"I am resolved upon it as man, as friend, as physician."

I laughed, but in my heart I was entirely of the doctor's opinion. The
presence of these people was a too intolerable burden for the family of
the superintendent. How could I avoid seeing it, when I had so attached
myself to these noble and good souls, that I had for everything that
concerned them the piercing eyes of the deepest and most reverent
affection? I saw how the superintendent's face wore every day a graver
look; how he forced himself to answer the everlasting "Is it not so,
dear brother?" or, "Is not that your opinion, dear brother?" I saw the
painful contraction which passed over the beautiful pale face of the
blind lady, when the harsh voice of her talkative sister-in-law smote
upon her sensitive ear; I saw how Paula bore these, in addition to her
other burdens, with silence and patience; but I also saw how heavy a
task it was.

I was sitting one day in the office, pondering all this in my indignant
heart, as I cut up a quill under pretence of making a pen, when through
the window which I had left half open to admit one of the rare
sunbeams, my ear caught the hateful metallic voice of the born
Kippenreiter.

"I am sure you will do me this kindness, dear Paula; I certainly would
not ask you, for I know how young girls are attached to their own
rooms, but mine is really too _triste_ with its perpetual outlook upon
the prison-walls; and then I am afraid it is damp, especially at the
present season of the year, and with my heart-complaint the least
rheumatism would be the death of me. I can count upon it, dear Paula,
can I not? Perhaps even to-day? That would be delightful!"

"I can hardly arrange it to-day, dear aunt; I have to-day to----"

"Well, then, dear child, to-morrow. You see I am content with anything.
And then there is another thing I want to mention, and that is the wine
we have at dinner. Between ourselves, it is not particularly good, and
does not agree with my husband at all. He is a little spoiled in this.
I know you have better in the cellar; we had some of it when we first
came; did we not now?"

"Yes, aunt; but unfortunately there are only two or three bottles left,
which I am keeping for my father----"

"Even if there are only two or three bottles, they are better than
none. Good heavens! there's that man at the window again! One cannot
take three steps here without coming across him."

These last words were probably not intended for my ear, but my sense of
hearing was acute, and the voice of the _gnädige_ very distinct in its
metallic ring. That they referred to none other than myself was
unquestionable; for beside the fact that I was a man, and standing just
then at the window, the _gnädige_ had stared at me with her fixed round
eyes, in a very ungracious manner, and then turned sharply upon her
heel.

But it made little difference to me that I displeased the _gnädige_, or
how much I displeased her; I thought only of the poor dear girl who
wiped the tears from her cheeks as she walked up the garden path
alone, after her aunt had left her. In a moment I was down from my
office-stool, out of the room, and had hurried to her side.

"You must not give up your room to her, Paula," I said.

"You heard, then?"

"Yes; and you must not do it. It is the only one that has a good light,
and----"

"I will not be able to paint much this winter; there is too much to
do."

"Do you really take it for granted that they are going to remain here
all winter?"

"I know nothing to the contrary. My aunt spoke of it just now."

Paula tried to smile; but great as usually was her self-control, this
time she could not succeed. Her mouth twitched painfully, and her eyes
filled again with tears.

"It is only on my parents' account," she said, excusing herself. "My
father just now needs rest so extremely, and you know how my mother
suffers when she has to entertain them for hours at a time. But you
must not give any hint of it, George; not even the least."

And she laid her finger impressively on her lips, and her great blue
eyes looked up anxiously at me.

I murmured something which she probably took for acquiescence, for she
gave me a friendly smile, and hastened into the house, from which
resounded the shrill voice of the _gnädige_, who with the whole power
of her lungs--which were evidently in a healthy state--was calling out
of the window to the steuerrath, who was standing in the rear of the
garden among the yellowing leaves on the sunny espalier, and eating one
of the few peaches which the superintendent's unwearying care had won
from the ungenial climate.

With long strides, betokening no good to the steuerrath, I walked up
the path directly to him.

"Ah!" said he, without desisting from his occupation, "my wife has sent
you, I suppose. But see for yourself if there is another decent peach
on the whole espalier. And the trash is anyhow as sour as vinegar."

"Then you should not have eaten it."

"Well, at all events it is better than nothing; an official on a
pension learns that lesson."

"Really!"

I accompanied this explanation with a contemptuous laugh, which rudely
startled the steuerrath from the delusion that he was delighting me
with his genial conversation. He looked at me with the expression of a
dog who is undecided whether to fly from his enemy or seize him by the
leg.

"Herr Steuerrath," I said, "I have a request to make of you."

His indecision was at an end in a moment.

"At any other time I will listen to you with pleasure," said he; "but
at this moment I am rather hurried----"

And he tried to pass me, but I barred his way.

"I can tell you in three words what I have to say: you must leave this
place."

"I must--what?"

"Leave this place," I repeated, and I felt the angry blood mounting to
my cheeks--"and that at once; in three days at the furthest."

"Young man, I believe you have lost your senses," replied the
steuerrath, making an effort to assume a dignified look, which his
lips, pale with apprehension, woefully belied. "Do you know to whom you
are speaking?"

"Give yourself no trouble," I said, contemptuously. "The times in which
you appeared to me I don't know what awe-inspiring wonder, are long
past. I have no further respect for you, not the slightest; and I will
not have you stay here any longer; do you hear? I will not have it!"

"But this is unheard-of!" cried the steuerrath. "I will tell my brother
what insults I am exposed to here."

"If you did that, I would----"

I could not bring myself to pronounce it, I had so long kept it sealed
up in my breast. I had two more years of imprisonment for keeping it
secret; it was a poisoned weapon which I was about to use against the
miserable man; but I thought of the weeping face of the dear maiden,
and then I looked into the face of the evil man before me, distorted
with hate and rage, and I dragged out the words through my clenched
teeth--"I would mention the letter which you wrote him"--I pointed in
the direction of the island--"upon which he undertook his last
expedition--of the letter which proves you an accomplice, yes, the
chief criminal; and which would have ruined you had I not kept the
secret."

The man, while I spoke, seemed to shrink into himself, as if he had
trodden upon a poisonous serpent; with straining eyes he watched every
movement of my hands, expecting every instant that I would carry them
to my breast-pocket and produce the fatal letter. "The letter you speak
of and which you have possessed yourself of by unlawful means, proves
nothing," he stammered--"proves nothing at all. It is indifferent to
me whether you show it to my brother, or to any one else--any one
else----"

"I cannot show it to any one, for I have burned it."

The steuerrath almost bounded into the air. His fright had never given
room for the thought that the letter might have been lost or destroyed.
How differently the affair stood now!

A smile of defiance passed over his face, which once more began to
assume its natural color.

"What are you talking of, and what do you want?" he cried, with a
hoarse voice that singularly contrasted with his usual oily speech.
"The devil only knows what kind of a letter it was that you saw--that
you pretend to have seen. The whole affair looks exceedingly like a
lie--and a very bungling one at that. Stand off, sir! don't dare to
touch me, or I call for help!--and you will have to your seven years,
seven years more. Do not dare to touch me, I say!"

My looks were probably threatening enough, for he had retreated before
them to the wall, and squeezed himself, trembling, against the
espalier. I stepped up close to him' and said in a low tone:

"I shall do you no harm, for--miserable wretch as you are--I still
respect in you your two brothers; the one whom you hounded on to his
death, and the other whose precious life you shall not embitter another
hour. If no one else believes my word that I read and burned that
letter, he will believe it--you know he will believe it. And if the
morning of the third day finds you here, he shall learn whom he has so
long been entertaining under his roof. You know him. He can pardon
much, and does pardon much; but to be the victim of such a shameless
lie as that which you have imposed upon him, upon the commerzienrath,
and all the world--that he will never pardon."

The man knew that I was right; I saw it in his face, which grew
absolutely sharp and thin with alarm at being thus helplessly in my
hands.

And it was high time; one minute later and my victory would at least
have been doubtful. For from the garden came help for the crushed one.
It was the born Kippenreiter, who came calling out to us from a
distance to save her two or three peaches.

A prudent general undertakes no new battle which may jeopard an already
hard-won victory. I had not quailed before the wrathful looks of the
steuerrath; but at sight of the yellow teeth of the born, I felt
something which I should call fear, if the respect we owe to the sex
could ever allow such a feeling to enter the breast of a man.

But be that as it might; when I heard the light-brown silk dress of the
_gnädige_ rustling close at hand, I considered the moment especially
suitable for hastening, as rapidly as I could with politeness, along
the paths strewn with dead leaves to my office, after first casting a
last impressive look upon my adversary, and saluting with a silent bow
his rustling reinforcement.

Would my threat prove effective?

I had given him two days respite, so the decision under all
circumstances must speedily be made.

Strange enough! I was convinced that I had acted only from the most
disinterested motives, and yet my soul was filled with disquiet, and my
eye and ear were on the alert for any sign that might tell me what I
had to hope or to fear. The next day passed--as far as I could see, all
things remained as they were; Paula's room, the same in which I had
lain sick, was emptied of its furniture; I saw her easel and her
portfolios of sketches carried across the hall, and gnashed my teeth to
see it.

But on the following morning the superintendent came into the office
with an unusually grave face, and after giving me some papers, with his
hand already upon the latch, turned and said:

"Tell me, George--you are quite disinterested in the matter--have you
noticed anything in my behavior, or in that of any member of my family,
that could give my brother or his wife reason to suppose that they are
not welcome here?"

I was drawing at the time, and had just then a very delicate bit of
pen-shading to do, so I could not raise my head from the drawing-board
as I answered the superintendent:

"I have perceived nothing of the sort."

"I should trust not," he said, and his voice had a grieved tone. "It
would give me pain, great pain, if I thought that if I thought that my
brother could say, or even think, 'He cared nothing for my misfortune;
he drove me away when his house was my only asylum.' For this, or very
near it, is the case. His pension is very small for a man accustomed to
his style of living; the compromise-money, even with our contribution,
is little enough; and, besides, he has debts and must work for his
living, and how was he to learn that in the wretched routine of
official life? They have certainly not brightened our home--truth
compels me to admit it--but he is my brother and my guest, and I would
rather he were not going."

Perhaps his noble nature looked for some reassuring answer from me,
but the fine lines of my bit of shading happened just then to be
closer than ever, and I had to bend my head still lower over the
drawing-board. He sighed deeply and left the room.

I drew a long breath as the door closed behind him, and the next
moment I saw, in the black mirror of the corpulent inkstand on the
office-table, my tall figure reflected in grotesque distortion, and
performing, with arms and legs, movements which apparently represented
a joyous dance of victory.

"You are monstrously pleased at something, it seems," said a voice
behind me.

In my fright I forgot one leg which I had elevated in the air, and upon
the other I made a pirouette which, had it been performed in public
before connoisseurs, would have brought down the house.

Arthur afterwards became a connoisseur in these things, but he could
not have been one at this time, for his face, as he threw himself into
a chair, was by no means radiant with delight, and the tone of his
voice was as dolorous as possible as he went on, resting his curly head
upon his hand:

"To be sure, you have every reason; you have gained your point; from
to-morrow you are again sole master here."

I had by this time brought my other foot down to the floor, and took
occasion to plant myself firmly before my antagonist, for such I
considered Arthur. But I was mistaken. Arthur had not come to pick a
quarrel with me.

"I have my own reasons," he said, "for preferring that the old people
should be away from here. The old man, you know, has become really
disreputable since his misfortune; he sponges upon the first man he
meets. By the way, I can pay you now the twenty-five you lent me the
other day. Last night I had a fabulous run of luck--we had a little
play at Lieutenant von Serring's quarters. Sorry I haven't the money
about me, but you shall certainly have it to-morrow. What I was going
to say is this: The old man carries it too far; sooner or later he
would have compromised me hopelessly. The colonel watches me
frightfully close. So no hostility, George! You have driven him
away--don't deny it; I have it from mamma. She is furious with you; but
I told her she might congratulate herself that you were so discreet and
said nothing more about that business of the letter. So I did not come
on this account, but merely to ask you how I stand with you."

"What do you mean?" I asked, not without some confusion.

"Let us have no quibbles about it, old fellow," said the ensign,
tapping the sole of his left boot with the point of his sword, which
lay across his right knee: "I have estimated you far too low. I see now
that you are cock of the walk here, and I wish to be on good terms with
you, not to quarrel. If uncle did not help me a little I should either
have to starve or quit the service, and my colonel, moreover, would
know why I can no longer visit here. You are a good fellow, and will
not ruin me."

"That I certainly will not," I said.

"And I am not such a bad fellow, after all," the ensign went on. "I am
a little wild, I know; but we are all so at our years, and so would you
be if you had the chance, which you certainly have not in this cursed
hole. But people can always get along with me, and they are all fond of
me here: my uncle, my aunt, the boys, and----"

Arthur took his left foot from his right knee, and said:

"Look here, George; I would not tell you if I did not have the fullest
confidence in your honor, notwithstanding--in short, I ask your word of
honor that you will say nothing about it. I fancy that--but, as I said,
you must keep it a secret--I fancy that I am not quite indifferent to
my pretty cousin: she said as much to me yesterday, and even if she had
not----"

And the ensign twisted the blackish down on his lip, and looked around
the room apparently for a looking-glass, but there was none there. His
only substitute would have been the great inkstand, which at this
moment I would most joyfully have dashed to ten thousand pieces against
his pretty head.

"Arthur!" cried Paula's voice in the garden; "Arthur!"

The ensign gave me a look that seemed to say: Do you see now what a
lucky dog I am? and ran out of the door, which he neglected to shut
after him.

I remained quite stupefied, and stared through the open garden-door at
the long walk which they were pacing up and down, she walking in her
usual composed manner, and he fluttering about her. Once they stood
still; she looked at him, and he apparently in protestation, laid his
hand upon his breast.

An indescribable sense of pain entered my bosom. I knew this feeling
well; I had once before experienced it, at the moment when I heard that
Constance belonged to another; but it was not then so poignant as now.
I could have buried my face in my hands and wept like a child. I did
not for a moment think that Arthur very probably lied to me or to
himself, and perhaps both. His confidence, Paula's call, the walk in
the garden, always empty at this hour--all came in such rapid
succession, and agreed so well, that it was but too probable. And
Arthur was such a desperately handsome fellow, and could be so amiable
when he chose--I ought to know that best, I who had so dearly loved
him! And had not Paula been changed towards me ever since he had been
in the house? Was she not more reserved--less communicative? I had
noticed it for some time; it had pained me before I knew what had
produced this change--now I knew it!

Vanity of vanities! What claims had I? To what could I pretend, an
outcast, condemned to long years of imprisonment?

My head sank upon my breast. I humbled myself deep in the dust before
the fair and dear maiden, who ever floated before me like a heavenly
being.

Then I sprang up indignant. Could she be all that I worshipped her for,
if she loved this man?

Here was a terrible contradiction which apparently was easy to solve,
and which I infallibly would have solved, or rather would have
altogether escaped, had I been a grain wiser or more vain; but in
which, as I was neither wise nor vain, I involved myself for years.

"Signs and wonders are coming to pass," said Doctor Willibrod, rushing
breathlessly into my cell one evening, where I sat in dejected
meditation before the stove, and watched the sparks that ran up and
down the glowing plates. "Signs and wonders! They are about to strike
their tents and shake off the dust from their feet. Hosanna!"

The doctor threw himself into a chair and wiped his bald scalp, upon
which the drops of perspiration were standing.

"Heaven is mighty in the weak," he went on in a tone in which his
internal excitement was perceptible. "Who would have believed that a
little David like myself would be able to pierce the brazen skull of
this Goliath of shamelessness; and yet such is the fact! The _gnädige_
can endure the air here no longer; she made the last trial when she
moved into Paula's chamber. The trial did not succeed, and she must go.
Hosanna in the highest!"

"Did she tell you so herself?"

"She did indeed; and her spouse confirmed it, and spoke of
hypochondriacal notions to which even the most sensible women are
subject, and to which a gallant husband must make some concessions.
Finally he drew me on one side, and on the score of temporary
deficiency of funds, borrowed a hundred _thalers_ from me to enable him
to start at once."

"You will never see them again."

"The hundred, or the distinguished travellers?"

"Neither."

"Pleasant journey to them, and may they never cross our path again!"

The doctor sank into a devout silence; I think that something like a
hymn of praise arose from his heart.

"Do you know, they are going!" resounded a deep voice behind us. It was
the sergeant, who came in with a lighted lamp.

"Carriage to be ordered at Hopp's livery-stable to-morrow morning at
the stroke of nine," continued the veteran. "Eight would not be too
soon, one would think."

And he joyously rubbed his hands, and declared that he felt like a bear
that itched in all his seven senses. But suddenly the laughter vanished
from the thousand wrinkles of his face, and leaning over the back of
the doctor's chair he said in a suppressed voice:

"Now we must drive away the young one, doctor; clean away! the brood is
worse than the old ones, in my opinion."

"In my opinion too," said Doctor Snellius, springing up. "I have given
the old ones their dismissal; you must do it for the youngster,
mammoth; by heaven must you!"

I made no answer; my gaze was fixed on the glowing plate, but I saw it
as through a veil which had somehow fallen over my eyes.



                              CHAPTER XIV.


And as if through a veil I see the years as they come and go, the
following years of my imprisonment. Though a veil which time has woven
with invisible spirit-hands, but not so thick but what every form and
every hue is more or less distinguishable as I gaze backward.

Clearest of all is the fixed background in this long act of my
life-drama. Even now, after so many years, I can almost always, by
closing my eyes, recall the scene to its minutest details. Especially
are there two lights under which I see it most clearly.

The one is a clear spring morning. A blue sky spreads above, the
pointed gables of the old buildings soar as high into the free air as
if the idea of a prison only existed in the dull brain of a
hypochondriac who had not yet quite had his sleep out; about the
projections of the gables and upon the high roofs twitter the sparrows;
and even now, I cannot tell why, but the twittering of sparrows in the
early morning makes the world for me a couple of thousand years
younger; I fancy the scamps could not have been more joyously and
impudently noisy about the hut of Adam and Eve in Paradise. The sun
ascends higher; his beams glide down the old ivy-covered walls into the
silent court; and the gatekeeper, who is just crossing it with a great
bunch of keys, and is a crabbed old fellow usually, whistles quite
cheerily, as if even he, who best knew, in this fresh morning-world
could not believe in locks and bolts.

The other light is an evening in late autumn. Over in the west, behind
the level chalk-coast of the island, the sun has set; the heavy clouds
hanging over the horizon still glow with a thousand tints of sombre
purple. Cooler blows the wind from the sea, and louder comes the noise
of the waves, although looking from the Belvedere, out over the
rampart, one cannot see the surf. Now the wind begins to rustle in the
tall trees of the garden, and companies of dry leaves flutter down to
those which rustle under my feet as I walk back to the house. I would
be, on this as on every evening, welcome in the family circle; but I
could not bear to have so many eyes looking kindly into mine. My eyes
have been gazing gloomily--yes, with despair--at the evening clouds,
and the old demon has awakened in me and whispered: Two more years, two
long years; when one leap would take you down there, and the first
skiff carry you into the wide world. And you will go back to your
prison, to the narrow walls where nothing detains you but your own free
will. Your free will! That has long since ceased to be free! You have
sold it--go! go! pass the house--back to your cell; away out of this
fading world of vapor, and get behind lock and bolt!

Sunshine of spring mornings, mist of autumn evenings; but far more
morning sun than evening mist! Yes, when I think well upon it, I must
admit that altogether morning sun was the rule, and evening mist only
the exception. For how any portion of our life--or, indeed, how the
background upon which this portion is defined--shall appear in our
memory, really depends upon the fact of its having been bright or
gloomy in our souls at that time. And in my soul at this time it was
growing gradually brighter and brighter, like the increasing light of
dawn; one knows not how it is, but what was lying before us confused
and indistinguishable, now stands in the fairest order.

The wish of my fatherly friend has long been accomplished: in the
workhouse I have learned to work. Work has become a necessity for me; I
count that day as lost on the evening of which I cannot look back upon
a vigorously prosecuted or a completed work. And I have acquired the
workman's faculty in every craft; the quick comprehension of what is to
be done, the accurate eye, the light forming hand. In the establishment
nearly all handicrafts are exercised; and I have tried them nearly all,
one by one, and for the most part soon surpassed the old gray-bearded
adepts. The superintendent likes to repeat that I am the best workman
in the establishment, which makes me at once both proud and humble:
proud, for praise from his lips is to me the highest honor I can attain
upon earth; humble, for I know that I owe it all to him. He has guided
into fixed paths the rude strength that knew neither aim nor limit, and
wished to spend its fury in the mastery of rough masses of stone; he
has, above all, taught me to regard the share of sound understanding
which nature has bestowed upon me, and which they did not know how to
deal with at the school, as a precious possession which may even take
the place of a bit of genius; or, as he often expressed it with a
smile, is perhaps a bit of genius itself. He has never tormented me
with things which he soon found out would not suit my brain; he soon
discovered that I could never express myself with clearness and fluency
in any other than my native German speech, and spared me the learning
of foreign languages, except so far as was absolutely necessary. He
knows that a sublime passage in the Psalms produces in me the deepest
emotion; that I can never satiate myself with reading Goethe, and
Schiller, and Lessing; but ne never urges me to go beyond this, and
discuss the literature of the day with him and Paula. But in recompense
he allows me to drink full draughts from the inexhaustible well of his
mathematical and physical knowledge; and his favorite recreation is to
have me model a machine, or portion of a machine, which his inventive
genius has devised, under his eye and guidance, in the little workshop
which he fitted up for himself many years ago.

Under his eyes, for his hands are and must be idle the while. Already
any physical exertion, however light, covers his body with a cold
sweat, and might even seriously endanger his life.

"I do not know what I should do without you," he says, looking at me
from his chair, with a sad smile on his face. "I live upon the
superflux of your strength: your arm is my arm, your hand is my hand,
your deep full respiration is my own. In the course of a year you will
leave me; so I have but one year to live; for a man without arm, hand
or breath is dead."

It is the first time that so hopeless an expression has fallen from his
noble, pallid lips, and it gives me a painful shock. I have always seen
him so full of courage, so entirely occupied with the duties of the day
and the hour, living his life so completely, I look at him with alarm,
and for the first time I really see the devastations which these six
years have wrought in his form and in his face.

Six years! I have to think to convince myself that they are really six
years, so little has changed in all this long time! So little? When I
consider it, perhaps not so little either. The grape-vines, which only
nodded over the window when I lay sick in Paula's chamber six years
ago, have now climbed over almost the whole building; the great
honeysuckle-arbor behind, where the peaches were trained against the
wall, which I had at that time built and planted with the boys, has
grown to a dense luxuriance, and is a favorite resort of Paula's, who
from here can see the house, which cannot be done from the Belvedere.

The summer-house at the Belvedere has got rather a bad name, which
would not have happened had not Benno by this time grown six years
older, and read _Faust_, and so of necessity must have "a high-vaulted,
narrow, Gothic room," which he can "cram full of boxes, instruments,
and ancestral chattels;" for which purpose the ruinous summer-house
with its pointed windows of stained glass seems to him by far the most
suitable locality. Benno is now convinced that his father, who
preferred to see in him the future physician or naturalist, is quite
right; and Paula, who wished to make a philologist out of him,
altogether wrong; and Benno must know, for he is at the glorious age of
seventeen, in which there are but few whom we do not overtop by a head
at least, in an intellectual point of view.

By so much he overtops his younger brother Kurt, in a literal sense;
and Kurt has definitively abandoned the idea of rivalling his senior,
who has in so marked a degree the high slender stature of the Zehrens,
and will evidently be even taller than his tall father. But Kurt has no
cause to complain: he has the deep chest, the long powerful arms, and,
under thick curly hair, the broad brow, of the workman. He is very
modest and unpretending; but his look is singularly fixed and piercing,
and his lips firmly compressed when he is pondering over a mathematical
problem, or trying to learn some dexterous manipulation at the lathe,
in which he always speedily succeeds.

Kurt and I are great friends, and as nearly inseparable as possible;
and yet to tell the honest truth, the twelve-year-old Oscar is my
darling. He has the large luminous brown eyes of the Zehrens, which I
used so to admire in my friend Arthur when he was a boy; he has
Arthur's slender figure and graceful manners--I often seem to see in
him Arthur again, as he looked fourteen years before. That ought not,
really, to be any recommendation to me; but when he comes bounding to
me, throwing back his long locks, and with joy and life sparkling in
his great eyes, I cannot help spreading my arms to him. Often I ask
myself if it really is this likeness which makes Oscar still keep his
place as his sister's favorite. Paula, it is true, still says, as she
used to say, that there is nothing of the sort; that Oscar is the
youngest, and therefore needs her most, and the fact that he happens to
have so decided a talent for painting and drawing, and so is peculiarly
her pupil, is a mere chance, for which she is not responsible.

Just so Paula spoke six years ago: I distinctly remember that summer
afternoon when she made that large chalk-drawing of me under the
plane-trees--as distinctly as if it had been but yesterday. And when I
look at Paula, I cannot believe that I have known her for six years,
and that she will be twenty next month. Then she looked older than she
really was, while now she looks just as much younger. She is perhaps a
very little taller, and her figure is fuller and more womanly, but in
her sweet face is so much childlike innocence, and even her movements
have still the bashfulness, sometimes almost awkwardness, of a very
young girl. But when any one looks into her eyes, he cannot venture to
take her for any other than she really is. These eyes do not blaze with
bold fire; their glances are not shy or languishing like those of a
boarding-school girl fresh from a secret reading of her favorite
gilt-edged poet--they are luminous with a calm, steady, vestal fire,
unmindful of the world, and yet compassing the world, as the artist's
eye must beam.

And Paula has become an artist in these six years. She has had no
teacher, except a decayed genius who was in the workhouse for a short
time, and afterwards was supported by the superintendent's charity to
the time of his death, which happened long ago. She has attended no
academy, has hardly seen a work of art, except two or three fine old
family-portraits, and a magnificent engraving of the Sistine Madonna,
which adorn the walls of the superintendent's house. What she is, she
has become of herself, by means of her wondrous eye, which looks into
the heart, not merely of men, but of all things; by means of her hand,
which could not be so delicate and slender if her soul did not flow to
its very finger-tip, and render it a plastic instrument; and by means
of her diligence, whose energy and unweariedness appear absolutely
incomprehensible when one reflects what a weight of labor, besides,
rests upon these tender shoulders. But she devotes every leisure moment
to her beloved art; and she knows how to find leisure at times when
others would solemnly declare that they did not know whether they were
on their heads or their feet. The wealth of her collection of studies
of all kinds, sketches, designs, copies, is wonderful. There is not an
interesting head among the prisoners or convicts that has escaped her.
To sit to the young lady is an honor and favor much sought after and
much envied throughout the whole establishment, and proud is the man
who can boast of it. But her chief model is the old Süssmilch, whose
grand head with its short gray locks, and furrowed energetic face, is
really a treasure to an artist's eye. The old fellow figures under all
possible characters: as Nestor, Merlin, Trusty Eckart, Belisarius, Götz
von Berlichingen--even as Schweizer out of _The Robbers_; mere studies
all for great historical pictures of which the brave girl is dreaming
in the future. In the meantime but one of these has appeared upon
canvas: Richard the Lion-heart, sick in his tent and visited by an Arab
physician. The scene is from Scott's _Talisman_. In the background is
an English yeoman, who looks sorrowfully at his sick lord, and a young
Norman noble, who, with hand on his sword, fixes a keen and suspicious
look upon the physician. Richard the Lion-heart is myself, as she
sketched me, when a convalescent, at the Belvedere; in the Arab
physician, a singular, fantastic, gnome-like figure--Dr. Willibrod
declares he discovers his own likeness, though the Arab wears no
spectacles, and his head, though bald without doubt, is wound about
with the green turban of the Hadji; the yeoman is Sergeant Süssmilch,
drawn to the life, though he has accommodated himself to another
costume; the knight, with short brown hair and bright brown eyes--a
handsome, graceful, youthfully elastic figure--is Arthur.

Is it an accident that just this figure is most fully elaborated,
almost to completeness, and that it is made so lovely?

I have no means of answering this question, except what I draw from my
own foreboding soul. Arthur, who has long been a lieutenant, and has
been stationed this spring at the military school in the capital, has
often visited the house, it is true, but the frequency of his visits
diminished with every year, and I could not say that he had sought to
draw any nearer to Paula. But there must have been some reason that
towards me, who had done him no injury, who always treated him in a
friendly manner, however little heart I had sometimes for it, he became
constantly more and more reserved, and at last avoided me as far as
possible. The money which he owed me, and which in the course of years
had increased to a sum by no means insignificant for my circumstances,
could not be the cause, for I had given it to him willingly and
cheerfully--he is always in difficulties, and resolved to blow out his
brains--never asked for repayment, but always assured him that I was in
no hurry for it; no, it cannot be the money. Does he fear a rival in
me? Good heavens! I can hardly be a dangerous rival. Who could fear a
prisoner, whose future is a book with seven seals, and scarcely
containing one pleasant chapter? Can he never forgive me that Paula is
always as kind and friendly to me as ever? Have I not deserved that,
who do all I can for her, and read her lightest wish in her eyes?

I do not know; as little do I know if it is chance that Paula, from the
hour that Arthur went to Berlin, painted no more on the picture. And
yet for this purpose she needs him least of all, for his knightly copy
only lacks a few touches. I ponder the reason over and over. And as I
venture once to ask Paula about it, she answers, not without some
hesitation, which is a rare thing with her:

"I have lost all pleasure in the picture."

This leads to a question which seems even worse than the first, and
which I had better leave unmeddled with, if I were prudent.

But I am not prudent, and cannot get it out of my head; and as my head
can make nothing of it, I lay it before Doctor Willibrod in a quite
casual manner, as if nothing really depended upon the answer:

"Tell me, doctor, why has Fräulein Paula lost all pleasure in her
picture?"

"Who says that?" asked the doctor.

"She herself."

"Then ask herself."

"If I wished to do or could do that, I would not need your opinion."

"Why should I have any opinion in the matter?" cries the doctor. "What
does it concern me why Paula does not choose to work on the thing any
longer? Since nature herself has not thought fit to finish me, I do not
care whether I am finished in the picture or not."

I see that I make no progress in this way, so I venture to hint that
perhaps Arthur's absence has had an influence upon Paula's feelings in
the matter.

"Does the cat come to the porridge at last?" crows Doctor Willibrod.
"Oh, he thinks that we have not long seen how he licks his paws! And
the porridge is so sweet--so sweet! just like the thought that such a
girl can give her heart to such a fellow. 'It is impossible,' says
Master Tom, and his whiskers bristle with distress. Why, impossible?
What is impossible? Is the life of her father anything but a protracted
sacrifice? Is she not her father's daughter? When one is once well
under way, a little more or less makes no difference; and the lamb
offers itself up to save the wolf. Oh, it is a merry business, that of
saving wolves! But still merrier is it to stand by and look patiently
on--not to seize a club and rush in--oh by no means! but merely to ask
from time to time: 'Don't you think, respected sir, that the wolf will
eat the Iamb at last?' Get away from me all of you that wear human
faces!"

Doctor Willibrod crows so high, and looks so exactly like the
apoplectic billiard-ball we have heard of, that I am sorry to have
begun the conversation, and that too so unskilfully. I now recollect
that lately the doctor has always seemed curiously excited whenever in
any way Paula's name happened to be mentioned. Often he speaks of her
in such a way that one would think he hated her, if one did not know
that he worships her. If any one reproaches him with it, he lays the
blame on the heat of the weather. The fiend himself, who is used to a
warm climate, might perhaps keep cool in such a temperature, he says,
but no one can blame mere men if they now and then lose their wits a
little at eighty degrees in the shade.

And really during the latter part of the summer the heat has grown
absolutely intolerable. Day after day the sun traverses a cloudless
steel-blue sky, and its beams prostrate everything they touch.
The grass has long been burnt up; the bastion and ramparts are
yellow-brown; the flowers have prematurely withered; the foliage
rustles from the trees before the time. All living things creep about
with heavy gaze fixed upon the earth, and the air quivers as above a
heated oven. The health of the town has been seriously affected, and we
are glad that the boys who now have holiday, are on a visit to some
friends of the family at a neighboring country-place. The state of
things in the prison is by no means satisfactory to the superintendent
and the doctor, who vie with each other in attention to the sick,
though the doctor steadily maintains that it is the height of folly to
risk one's skin for the sake of other people.

"And then beside, when, like _Humanus_, one has but half a lung, and a
blind wife and four children, and not a shilling of capital--what will
come of that?"

I remember that the doctor put this question to me in this very same
conversation, and that I repeated it to myself an hour later as I stood
alone before the Belvedere, and, without either seeing or hearing,
stared out at the evening sky, which I could see from over the rampart
extending down to the sea. I did not see that over the sky, which for
weeks together had shown not the slightest haze, a vapor had now spread
itself through which the evening light had a ghastly, pallid look; I
did not hear that strange wailing sounds were passing through the air;
I did not even turn round when a deep voice close at my ear growled out
the very question which I was occupied in trying to solve:

"What will come of that?"

It was the old Süssmilch, who coming to my side pointed with his right
hand to the sulphurous glare in the west.

"A storm, what else?" I replied, scarcely noticing what I said.

I felt that the oppressive sultriness, which was weighing down my soul
as well as all nature, must expend itself in a storm.



                              CHAPTER XV.


And there came a storm such as had not raged along this coast--which
yet throughout the year heard many a fierce gale sweep over its low
beach of sand and chalk--within the memory of man.

It was about midnight, when I was awakened by a crashing as of thunder,
making the old house quiver to its foundations, and followed by a
rattling and clattering of falling tiles, and of slamming doors and
shutters, like the crackle of musketry following the heavy discharge of
a battery.

This was the storm that had so long been announcing its coming. My
first thought was of those in the house in the garden. With a single
bound I was out of my bed and dressed, as the sergeant thrust his gray
head in at my door.

"Already up?" said he; "but this is enough to rouse a bear with seven
senses. _He_ will be awake, too."

The old man did not say who would be awake; between us two it was not
necessary.

"I was just going to him," I said.

"Right," said the old man. "I will stay here the while. Somebody will
be needed here who has his head on his shoulders. It is a most
diabolical state of things; worse than eight years ago; and then the
men would not be kept in their dormitories. A little more and we should
have had murder done."

During this brief conversation, the tremendous shocks had been twice
repeated, and, if possible, with still greater violence. Add to this a
howling and an uproar--we had to speak almost in a shout to make
ourselves heard. This was in the room--what must it then be outside?

This I learned a minute later, as I crossed the prison court. A pitchy
darkness lay like a thick black pall over the earth; not a star, not
the faintest gleam of light. The hurricane raged between the high walls
like a beast of prey that finds himself for the first time in a cage.
Despite my strength and the momentum of my heavy frame, I had to
struggle with the monster that flung me this way and that. Thus I
fought my way through the thick darkness, among the tiles that came
clattering from the roofs, to the superintendent's house, out of the
windows of which here and there a light was visible.

In the lower hall I met Paula. She was carrying a lighted taper in her
hand, and its light fell upon her pale face and large eyes, which
filled with tears as she saw me.

"I knew you would come," she said. "It is a fearful night. He insists
on going over to the prison; and he has been so very unwell lately. I
dare not ask him to stay. Indeed, he must go if his duty commands. It
is very kind of you to come."

The tears that had glistened in her eyes now slowly rolled down her
pale cheeks.

"Do not laugh at me," she said, "but for several days I have felt as if
some misfortune were about to happen."

"We have all felt so, dear Paula. It is merely a bit of egotism to
fancy that a thunder-storm which is now hanging over thousands and
thousands is to smite precisely us."

I meant to say this very courageously; but my voice quivered, and at
the last words I was forced to turn away my eyes.

"I will go to your father, Paula," I said.

"Here he comes now," said Paula.

The superintendent stepped out of his room. Before he had gently closed
the door, I caught a glimpse of a white figure which he seemed by
gentle words and gestures to be urging to remain in the room. It was
Frau von Zehren. Had she also the feeling that some calamity was
impending? Perhaps even more strongly than we. Who among us who see,
hears the faint spirit-voices that whisper and murmur through the night
of the blind?

A deep melancholy lay upon his features; but it instantly gave place to
a surprised smile as he saw us both standing there. It was as when one
walks through a dark rocky ravine whose sombre shadows spread a gloom
over his face, and suddenly, at a sharp turn of the dusky path, he sees
the open valley at his feet, and a wide flood of golden sunlight
streams all about him.

"See there, both my dears ones!" he said.

He extended both hands to us.

"Both my dear ones," he repeated.

Did he really see us? Did he, out of the rocky gorge, catch a gleam of
sunny vales in the future? I have often asked this question of myself,
when thinking of the happy spirit-like look with which at this moment
the father saw his beloved daughter at the side of the man who was dear
to him as a son.

But this was but for a moment, and the present then resumed its rights.

"You will go with me, George," he said; "I must go through the prison.
It cannot be but that the excitement which has been growing on us all
lately has also seized the poor prisoners. And with them excitement
means howls, and shrieks, and gnashing of teeth. Do you remember that
September night, eight years ago, Paula? It was not so terrible as
this, and the men were like maniacs."

Paula nodded assent. "I remember it well, father," she said. "How could
I help it? You suffered so much from the consequences afterwards. Here
comes Doris with the lantern," she hastily added, while a flush of
shame suffused her cheeks at having for a moment attempted to dissuade
her father from his duty.

She took the great lantern with its two lighted candles from the hands
of the frightened girl, and gave it to me. The superintendent gave her
a kind look from his large grave eyes, buttoned up his coat, fixed his
hat firmly on his head, and turning to me said: "Come, George."

We stepped out into the raging, thundering night. In my left hand I
carried the lantern; my right arm I gave the superintendent. I had
thought that I should have to carry or almost to carry him, as he had
been completely prostrated by the heat of the last few weeks; and
indeed his first steps were heavy and tottering as those of a man who
has for the first time risen from his bed after a long illness. All at
once he let go my arm and stood firm and erect:

"Do you hear, George? I said so!"

We were just passing under the windows of one of the great dormitories,
in which fully a hundred prisoners were shut up at this hour. The
light-colored wall was faintly defined against the darkness; from the
windows came a feeble light; the storm raged against the wall and
whistled shrilly through the gratings; but louder than the howling and
whistling of the storm were the horrible noises that came from the
interior of the building. Such sounds might come from lost souls in the
night of Tartarus.

"Light! light!" was the cry. "We want light!"

"Quick, George!" said the superintendent, hastening on before me with
such rapid strides that I had difficulty in keeping up with him. We
passed through the open door into the wide hall, where we found the
sergeant in lively dispute with the inspector and half-a-dozen
overseers.

"He will tell you that I am right," I heard the brave old man cry. "One
must be a bear with seven senses; not able to tell a tooth-pick from a
barn-door! In the name of three million devils, light all the
lanterns!"

"Yes; light all the lanterns," said the superintendent, coming up.

The men stepped respectfully back, only the Inspector said sullenly:
"There is no reason for breaking the regular rule of the house, Herr
Superintendent; and the men know that there is no reason; but they take
advantage of the chance--that is all."

"Perhaps not quite all, Herr Müller," said the superintendent. "We two,
you and I, have not been sitting with a hundred others in a locked room
in the dark--or as good as in the dark--and in a night like this when
it is as if the end of the world had come. Fear, like courage, is
contagious. Follow me, you and Süssmilch, and two others to light the
lanterns."

He did not name me: he may have thought it a matter of course that I
would follow him. We turned into the corridor and reached the door
which led to the great ward, the windows of which we had passed.
"Light! light!" they were still shrieking inside, and heavy blows fell
upon the oaken door, which cracked at intervals as if they were trying
to burst it open.

"Open!" said the superintendent to the turnkey.

The man cast a stealthy look at the inspector, who looked sullenly at
the ground.

"Open!" repeated the superintendent.

With hesitation the man placed the key in the lock, and drew the heavy
iron bar from the staples. With hesitation he threw back the first and
then the second bolt. As he laid his hand upon the third, he gave a
furtive glance at the superintendent, upon whose lips played a smile.

"Why, your heart is usually in the right place, Martin," he said.

In an instant Martin had thrown back the bolt; the doors were opened.
The frightful spectacle that was then presented to my eyes I shall
never forget, though I should attain the age of the most patriarchal
raven.

Three or four feet behind the door was another, a grating of iron,
reaching as high as the ceiling; and behind this grating was a
frightful entanglement of men piled upon one another, conglomerated
together--here a pair of arms thrust out, there a pair of legs, as out
of a heap of corpses, flung together into a promiscuous grave upon a
field of battle; with the difference that this mass moved, writhed
internally, and out of it, here and there and everywhere, glared living
eyes, terrible, fierce, desperate, maniac eyes.

"Men!" cried the superintendent, and his usually soft voice rose with a
power that overbore the tumult, "are you not ashamed of yourselves?
Would you rush upon destruction to avoid a danger which nowhere exists
but in your own heads, and in the darkness around you?"

Was it the courageous voice? Was it the look of the man? Was it the
effect of the strong light which was thrown upon the mass from the
lanterns of the turnkeys? the coil disentangled itself, arms found
their way to bodies, legs stood again upon their feet, even the eyes
lost their frenzied glare, and here and there a man, either dazzled or
ashamed, cast them down.

"Make room for the door to be opened, men!" said the superintendent.

They fell back: the grating was opened; the superintendent entered, and
we followed.

"Now see, children, how foolish you are," he continued, in a friendly
tone. "There you stand in you shirts, freezing, shivering--you really
ought to be ashamed of yourselves. Get to bed again, or else dress
yourselves and sit up; I will have your lanterns lighted, so that each
one of you can see what a chicken-heart his neighbor is, and what a
bold fellow he is himself."

The men looked at one another, and over more than one face that had
been distorted with terror there came a smile. In the rear two laughed
out loud.

"That is right," said the superintendent, "laugh away; no devil can
hold his own against an honest laugh. And now good-night, children, I
must look after the others."

By this time the overseers had let down and lighted the four great
lanterns that were drawn up to the ceiling. A cheerful brightness
filled the large room. Outside, the storm was raging and howling as
before; but a kindly word falling into these dark spirits had appeased
the storm within.

"Let us see after the others," said the superintendent.

And we traversed the echoing corridors, in which this night the
noise from without overpowered the sound of our steps. Wherever
we came we found the prisoners in a state of the most fearful
excitement--excitement beyond all proportion to the causes which
produced it; everywhere the same; sometimes vented in wild curses, and
sometimes in the most piteous supplications; but everywhere the cry of
the poor wretches for light, only more light in the fearful night. But
everywhere the superintendent succeeded in quieting the wild creatures
with his calm words, except the occupants of one ward, who either would
not or could not be quieted. This ward lay in a wing of the building
which was more exposed to the violence of the blast than any other, and
here, in consequence, the storm burst with all its fury. The terrific
detonations, like peals of thunder, with which the tempest burst
against the ancient walls, the furious howling with which it whirled
around the angles, after striving frantically for minutes together to
sweep the obstruction out of its path; the wailing, lamenting, gasping,
sobbing tones that came, no one knew how or whence--all was frightful
enough to fill the soul of even a free man with secret horror. And even
while the superintendent was speaking to them, a chimney on one of the
higher buildings adjacent was blown down, and in falling broke through
the roof of this wing, sending clattering down hundreds of tiles,
increasing the uproar, if not the danger. The men demanded to be let
out; they _would_ come out at every cost; they were resolved not to be
buried alive.

"But, children," said the superintendent, "you are safer here than
anywhere else; there is not another part of the building so strong as
this."

"Very well for him," muttered a square-built, curly-headed fellow; "he
can go home and sleep in his soft bed."

"Give me your mattress, friend," said the superintendent.

The fellow looked at him in amazement.

"Your mattress, friend," he repeated. "Lend it to me for to-night: I
will see if it is so hard, and if it is such dreadful sleeping here."

A deep silence suddenly succeeded the wild tumult. The men looked at
each other in confusion; they did not know whether this was jest or
earnest. But the superintendent did not move from the place. He stood
there silent, thoughtful, with head depressed; no one, not even I,
ventured to speak to him. All eyes were turned to the audacious fellow,
who looked as if he had been condemned to death, and was about to be
led to execution. His mutinous spirit was broken; silently he went and
took up his mattress and brought it to the superintendent.

"Lay it there, my friend," said the latter. "I am tired; I thank you
for providing me a resting-place."

The man spread out the mattress upon the floor; the superintendent laid
himself upon it and said:

"Now lie down, all of you. You, Herr Müller, go to the infirmary and
see if I am needed there. You remain with me, George."

The inspector went, with the turnkeys; the door was closed and locked;
we were alone.

Alone among about eighty convicts, for the most part the worst and
fiercest criminals in the whole prison.

The lanterns that hung from the ceilings cast a dim light over the rows
of beds which were arranged along the walls, and in three long lines,
extending the length of the ward. The men had either lain down, or were
crouching upon their beds. The man who had given his mattress to the
superintendent might have done the same, for there were some half-dozen
of vacant beds in the ward; but he seemed afraid to occupy any one of
them, and crouched upon the bare floor in a dark corner. I stood with
folded arms against the stone pillar which supported the centre of the
roof, looked at the strange spectacle before me, and listened to the
storm which raged without with unabated fury. The superintendent lay
quite still, his head supported by his hand. He slept, or seemed to
sleep; and yet I fancied that from time to time a shiver shook his
frame. The room was warm, but we had been thoroughly drenched by the
rain in crossing the court; he had no covering, and had just risen from
a sick bed. What will be the end? I sighed in the depth of my heart.

Suddenly a man near me, who had several times turned his head towards
the superintendent, arose from his bed, walked softly with bare feet to
me, and whispered:

"He must not lie there in that way; it will be his death."

I shrugged my shoulders: "What can we do?"

And then another came up, and another rough voice whispered:

"He must go home. Why should he lie here freezing for the sake of that
shock-headed rascal? It shall not be our fault."

"No, it shall not be our fault," murmured other voices. In a moment a
crowd has collected around me, and increases every moment. Not one of
these men was sleeping, any more than myself. All had the same thought
in their rude hearts. They want to repair their misbehavior, and do not
know how to go about it. One finds a way at last:

"He shall go himself and beg him."

"Yes; that shall he!"

"Where is he?"

"Back yonder."

"Bring him along!"

They rush to the corner where the fellow is crouching, a dozen strong
hands lift him to his feet; they drag him to the superintendent, who
raises himself from his hard couch as they approach. The light of the
nearest lantern falls full in his pale face, shadowed by his dark hair
and beard. A happy smile plays about his mouth, and his large eyes beam
with strange light.

"I thank you," he said, "I thank you. The hours which your kindness
bestows upon me shall be devoted to you. But one thing more, children!
This man here is myself: what you do to him, you do to me."

The man had sunk upon his knees before him; he laid his hand, as in
blessing, upon his bushy head; and then we turned to the door. I cast a
look back: not one of the men had moved from his place. All eyes are
fixed upon the superintendent, who is leaving the ward, supported by my
arm. But I doubt whether all see him; for in many eyes are glistening
tears.



                              CHAPTER XVI.


It was two o'clock when we re-entered the house. At the first touch of
the bell Paula appeared in the hall; but the superintendent only gave
her an affectionate smile and a pat on the cheek, and kept on to his
chamber, whither I followed him. He did not speak to his daughter,
because he could not speak. His face was of a corpse-like paleness, and
deep red spots burned in the hollows of his cheeks. With a motion of
his hand he asked my assistance, and I helped him to undress. As soon
as he was in bed he turned his eyes upon me with a look of gratitude,
and then closed them in death-like exhaustion.

I took my seat by his bedside, and could not avert my eyes from the
pale, noble face. A sublime calm lay upon it; even the red spots had
vanished from the cheeks; no movement betrayed that in this breast,
that scarcely moved, a heart was beating, that under this lofty brow
dwelt a spirit; I felt as though I was watching by a corpse.

Thus solemnly and slowly passed the hours of that night. In all my life
I have never met with a stronger contrast than that of the calm face of
that sleeping man with the wild fury of the storm that raged without
with unabated violence. Well might he sleep; the mightiest pinion of an
earthly storm could not soar to the blessed heights where his spirit
was floating.

Involuntarily my thoughts recurred to the night when the smuggler, who
had just become a murderer, lay wounded in my arms in that hollow in
the ruin, writhing, cursing God, himself, and all the world. And that
man was the brother of this? It seemed incredible that one mother could
have brought forth two such different beings; that the same sun could
shine on two men so unlike; and then again it seemed to me that both,
the wild one and the gentle, the hater and the friend of men, were one
and the same person; as if I had once already seen the pale face before
me; as if it were the same face upon whose brow, pallid in death, the
morning sun shone, as it rose ruddy out of the sea after that night of
horror in the ruin on the cliff.

But these thoughts were but the wild fancies of one overcome by
weariness. I must indeed have really slept for a while, for as I raised
my head again the gray twilight was glimmering through the lowered
curtains. The superintendent was still lying there as he had lain all
night, his eyes closed and his white hands folded over his breast. I
softly arose and crept out of the room. I had to breathe fresh air; I
felt that I must try to shake off the weight that pressed upon my
heart.

As I crossed the silent hall I was surprised to see that the hand of
the great clock at the foot of the stairs pointed to eight. I had
supposed, from the dim light, that it was not more than five or six.
But as soon as I stepped out of doors, I saw why it was no lighter. The
black pall which had lain over the earth in the night was now changed
to a gray one--a pallid twilight, that was neither night nor day. And
the fury of the storm was still unabated. As I turned the sheltering
corner of the house, I had to plant myself firmly on my feet in order
not to be dashed to the earth. Thus, crouching down, I made my way
through the garden, now a scene of devastation. There lay trees torn up
by the roots, and others broken off but a few feet from the ground. The
path was strewn with branches and twigs, and the air filled with
whirling leaves. Only the old plane-trees at the Belvedere still
resisted the storm, and their majestic boughs were lashed wildly about
by the blast. I made my way to the Belvedere, the only spot from which
one could obtain a view, though but a limited one, of the stormy
quarter. I feared that the old summer-house would not have been able to
resist the tempest; but there it still stood--doubtless the high
bastion had protected it. I hurried into it for shelter; and as I
hastily threw open the door I saw Paula standing at one of the narrow
windows, on the side facing the sea.

"You here, Paula?" I cried in alarm. "You here in this weather, when
the house may come down at any moment!"

"How is my father?" asked Paula.

"He is sleeping," I said. "You have not slept."

I saw that by her pale cheeks and the dark circles round her eyes. She
looked away from me, and pointed out of the window at which we were
standing, which now was but a window-space, for the storm had blown in
all the stained panes except one in one corner.

"Is that not terrible?" she said.

And it was terrible indeed. Sky and sea of a leaden gray, and between
sea and sky whirling white specks like snowflakes driven by a November
wind. These white specks were gulls, and their dismal cries reached us
at intervals. Upon the high bastion, opposite us, the storm had beaten
down the tall grass which used to nod so lightly in the wind, as flat
as if heavy rollers had passed over it; and over the long, low rampart
from time to time appeared streaks which at first I could not account
for. Could they be the crests of waves? The thing seemed impossible.
The rampart, as I knew, was more than twelve feet high, and in front of
it was a wide sandy beach, on which a popular bathing-establishment had
been erected. Over the rampart a glimpse of the sea might always be
caught, but it was at a considerable distance; but these streaks, if
they were waves, were not dancing out at sea; I saw plainly how they
rose, fell, tumbled over, and beaten to foam and spray flew over the
rampart. It was the surf, and the surf had risen to the crest of the
rampart!

"What will come of it?" asked Paula.

It was the very question which I had asked myself yesterday evening at
this identical place, though in another and very different sense. I was
then only thinking of her who now stood before me, and looked up to me
with large, terrified eyes; but in my spirit, confused by the sleepless
night I had passed, nature and human destiny mingled inextricably
together:

"Paula," I said.

She glanced up to me again.

"Paula," I repeated, and my voice trembled and my hand sought hers, "if
the storm of life ever rages around you as that is raging--will you
turn to me for help and protection? Will you, Paula? say!"

A bright flush reddened her pale cheeks; she drew her hand, which I did
not venture to detain, out of mine.

"You are one of those good men, George, who desire to help all, and
upon whom, therefore, all think they have claims."

"That is not an answer, Paula," I said.

She opened her lips to speak; but I was not to learn if the unfavorable
construction I had given her words was the right one or not, for at
this moment a blast smote the summer-house, tearing off the roof, and
driving in the remaining sashes, that fell in shivers around us. I
caught Paula around the waist and sprang with her out of the house,
which fell with a crash the instant we had quitted it. Paula gave a
shriek of terror, and clasped me convulsively. My heart bounded with
joy when I thus held the dear maiden in my arms; but she released her
hold immediately.

"What weaklings we women are, after all!" she said. "You men must think
that we exist for no other purpose than to be protected by you."

As she said this there was an indignant expression in her large eyes
and her brow; but her lips twitched with hardly-repressed weeping.

What was passing in her thoughts at that moment?

I did not learn this until years later.

We went--or rather, struggled--back to the house. No further word was
spoken between us, nor did she take my arm, which I, for my part, did
not venture to offer her. Would she have rejected the arm of another as
well? I asked myself.

With a sadness that I had never felt before, I was sitting an hour
later in the office. How could I work with this disquiet in my heart,
with this weight upon my brain, and on such a day as this? But "first
do your work, everything else will come in in its place," was the word
of the superintendent, and in accordance with this word I seated myself
at my work, and copied lists and examined accounts without making a
single error in my figures. I had well spent my long apprenticeship: I
could now say that I had learned to work.

It was noon when I went to the superintendent to place the papers I had
prepared before him for his signature. When I reached the ante-room of
his cabinet I stopped, for through the half-opened door I heard some
one speaking within.

"It is a grand opportunity," said an unctious voice, which of late
years had been less frequently heard in the superintendent's house--"a
glorious time, a time of the Lord, who reveals himself in storm and
tempest, to awaken the heart of sinful man from its obduracy. Let us
rightly understand this time, Herr Superintendent, and not let the Lord
appeal to us in vain."

"You will excuse me if I do not share your view, Herr von Krossow. I
have this night had an example of the frenzy to which superstitious
terror drives these wild souls. If you wish to explain to the men these
phenomena of nature, I am most willing to aid you in the undertaking;
but I see no advantage in a general prayer-meeting, and must therefore,
I regret to say, decline to permit it."

The superintendent said this in his calm, convincing manner, but it did
not seem to convince his antagonist. A brief pause succeeded, and the
soft voice began again:

"I forgot to mention that the president, from whom I have just come,
and to whom I imparted my intention, entirely agreed with my views, and
even expressed the wish that the bells might be rung in all the
churches, and the congregations assembled for prayer. He cannot fail to
feel it very sensibly if here--just here--his authority is--what shall
I say?--disregarded."

"I am afraid," replied the superintendent, "that many more will find
themselves to-day compelled to refuse the customary respect to the
authority of the president; I fear that the bells will be rung, not to
call the people to the churches, but to summon them to work. Unless the
storm soon abates there will be much work and hard work to do before
night."

At this moment, through the roar of the storm, was audible a lamentable
tone as if coming from the clouds, followed by other dismal sounds of
wailing and crying, and suddenly the door leading into the hall was
thrown open, and the doctor rushed breathlessly in.

"It is as we expected," he panted, hurrying past me into the
superintendent's room, into which I followed him in excitement which
had something better in it than mere curiosity.

"It is as we expected," he repeated, taking off his spectacles and
wiping from his face the wet sand and other drift with which he was
covered from head to foot. "In an hour, or two hours at most, the water
will be over the rampart, unless a breach first happens, which is to be
feared, in more than one place."

"What precautions are being taken?"

"They are sitting with hands in their laps--is not that enough? I
hurried to the chief of police and to the president to entreat them to
send every man that could use his arms to the rampart, and to order
back the battalion, which marched out to parade two hours ago, because
no countermand arrived--can you conceive such madness!--and is now
struggling and buffeted upon the road, unless the storm has blown them
all into the ditches long ago, which is more probable. Under all the
circumstances they cannot be far, and would soon be back if a couple of
mounted couriers were sent after them. They are more wanted here than
in the ditches. All this I laid before the gentlemen. What do you
suppose the chief of police answered me? He had been a soldier himself,
and knew that an officer must obey his orders. It was not to be
supposed that the battalion would be recalled at his request. And the
president--that pretended saint--what is it? O, Herr von Krossow, you
here? I am sorry that you have had to hear the opinion I have of your
uncle; but it is out now, and I can neither help myself nor him. I
cannot see that the sanctity is anything but a pretence, which in such
a calamity talks of the judgments of God, and that it is vain to kick
against the pricks."

"I shall not fail, as in duty bound, to notify my uncle of the friendly
opinions which are so frankly expressed of him here," said Herr von
Krossow, seizing his broad-rimmed hat with hands that trembled with
rage, and hastening out of the door.

"A pleasant journey to you!" cried the pugnacious doctor, running a few
steps after him, like a cock whose adversary has left him master of the
arena. "A pleasant journey!" he called once more through the open door,
which he then, snorting wrath and scorn, flung furiously to.

"You have lost your place here," said the superintendent, seriously.

"At all events, the fellow will know my opinion of him," crowed the
doctor.

"What does that matter?" asked the superintendent. "But that you should
be physician here matters much, and to me most of all. We must try to
repair this in some way."

The superintendent walked up and down the room with slow steps, his
hands clasped behind his back, as was his custom; the doctor stood
first upon one foot and then upon the other, looking greatly ashamed
and confused.

"What is it?" asked the superintendent of a turnkey, who entered at
that moment with an agitated face.

"There is a crowd of people here, Herr Superintendent."

"Where?"

"At the gate."

"What kind of people?"

"Mostly from the Bridge-street, Herr Superintendent. They say they will
all be drowned. And since the prison stands so much higher----"

Without a word the superintendent left the room and crossed the court.
We followed. He had on a short silk coat he usually wore in the house,
and was without hat or cap. As he strode on before us, the storm, which
was furious in the court, dishevelled his thin, dark hair, and the ends
of his long moustache fluttered like pennons in the wind.

We reached the gate which the growling porter was ordered to open. The
previous evening the opening of a prison door had exhibited to me a
frightful spectacle, and I now had to behold a most moving and pitiable
one, which has remained no less indelibly impressed on my memory.

There were outside probably fifty persons, mostly women, some men, both
old and young, and children, some even in the arms of their mothers.
Nearly all were carrying in their hands, or had placed upon the ground,
some of their little possessions, and these apparently the first that
came to hand, caught up in haste and alarm. I saw a woman with a great
wash-tub on her shoulders, which she clutched as firmly as if it would
fall to pieces if let go; and a man carrying an empty bird-cage, which
the wind was whirling about. The gate was no sooner open than they all
rushed into the yard as if pursued by furies. The turnkey wished to
oppose their entrance, but the superintendent took him by the arm.

"Let them in," he said.

We had stepped on one side, and let the mad torrent pour by us, and it
now spread over the court, and in part rushed up to the door of the
building.

"Halt!" cried the superintendent.

They all stopped.

"Let the women and children enter," he said, to his subordinates, "also
the old and the sick. You men may go in to warm yourselves, but in ten
minutes you must all be here again. This is no time for men to be
sitting behind the stove."

Here came new guests through the open gate.

"Let them in--let all in!" said the superintendent.

A young woman with a child in her arms, who had rushed in after the
others, went up to the superintendent and said:

"I want my husband! Why do you keep him locked up? I can't carry all
the brats at once! If I don't find the rest, you may drown this one
too!"

She was just going to lay the child on the ground, when she suddenly
turned upon the doctor, who was standing by, pushed the child into his
arms, and sprang out of the gate. The woman had wonderfully long blond
hair, which had fallen loose, and as she rushed off in frantic haste it
fluttered behind her in a thousand strings.

"Get rid of your little burden," said the superintendent, smiling, to
the doctor. "You must take command here in my place. Look after the
women and children, my friend, and see that the men are through with
their dinner in a quarter of an hour; then let them come out here, all
of them, without exception, but the sick."

The doctor cast an inquiring look at his chief. Suddenly a light seemed
to flash across his grotesque physiognomy, and holding the wailing
child close to his breast, he ran with his queer tripping steps into
the house to carry out the orders he had just received.

"Stay here, George," said the superintendent to me, "and talk to the
people, as thou knowest how. I shall be back in ten minutes."

He went: I remained staring after him. What was the meaning of this?
For the first time he had called me _thou_. His eye had been steadily
fixed upon me; it was not a trip of the tongue, and yet he had not
spoken it intentionally; I felt this instinctively; I felt, indeed I
knew, that it was because at this solemn moment the little barriers
which conventional life had thrown up between us, in this man's eyes,
shrivelled up into nothing. And I knew what was in his mind: I knew
that he was preparing himself for a battle of life and death, and that
he had gone to take farewell of his family. A shudder ran through me;
my breast swelled high; I raised my head proudly.

"Good people," I said, "take courage: he will help you if a man can."

They crowded around me, bewailing their great peril; how the water had
been rising since yesterday midnight at the rate of nearly a foot an
hour; that had now been going on for twelve hours, and the rampart
in the lowest part was only twelve or thirteen feet high; that the
Bridge-street and Sweed-street next to it were but very little above
the ordinary level of the sea, and if the rampart gave way, all were
lost. Master-Pilot Walter, who understood these things well, had always
said something would happen; but there was no money for anything
of the sort--that was all spent on the bastions and casemates on the
land-side.

"And they have clapped my two boys into uniform," said an old man, "and
now they are out on the road and cannot help us."

"But _he_ will," I said.

The old man looked at me incredulously.

"He is a good gentleman," he said; "every child knows that; but what
can he do?"

Here the superintendent came again out of the house, and at the same
time out of three several doors which opened from the different wings
of the main-building streamed forth the convicts, and work-house men,
about four hundred in number, all more or less stalwart men, in their
gray working-jackets, the most already provided with spades, picks,
axes, ropes, and whatever else likely to be of service, that they had
been able to find in the establishment. The men were headed by their
overseers.

Thus they came on in military order and step. "Halt! Front face!"
commanded the overseers, and the men halted in three companies, steady
as a battalion under arms.

"This way, men!" cried the superintendent, in a sonorous voice. The men
obeyed. All eyes were fixed upon him, who stood with his head bent down
as if reflecting. Suddenly he looked up, his eye flashed around the
circle, and with a voice that rose strong and clear above the storm, he
cried:

"Men! Each one of us has had some one hour in his life which he
would give much to be able to recall. To-day a great good fortune is
granted you: every one of you, whoever he may be and whatever he has
done--every one of you may now buy back that hour, and become again
what he once was, before God, himself, and all good men. You have been
told what you are wanted for. It is to risk your lives for the lives of
others--for the lives of helpless women and children! I make you no
vain promises; I do not say what you are about to do will make free men
of you; on the contrary, I tell you that you will return here just as
you left. Neither freedom nor any other reward awaits you when the gate
closes behind you this evening after your work is over--nothing but the
thanks of your superintendent, a glass of stiff grog, and a comfortable
rest upon your beds, such as an honest fellow deserves. Will you stand
by me on these conditions? Whoever will, let him raise his right hand
and give a hearty Aye!"

Four hundred right hands flew up, and from four hundred throats came
the shout AYE!

At once the crowd, which had been joined by the fugitives from the
town, was divided into three companies, of which Süssmilch was to
command the first, I the second, and a convict named Mathes, formerly a
ship-builder, and a very active, intelligent man, the third. The
overseers had fallen into the ranks with the rest.

"Every man is his own overseer to-day!" said the superintendent.

Thus we marched out of the gate.

The short street upon which the principal prison-gate opened was soon
traversed, but at the old and rather narrow gate at the end of the
street we met with a singular resistance, which, more than anything
hitherto, exhibited the might of the storm. The old gate was in fact
only an open arch in the wall, and yet it took us longer to get through
it than if we had had to burst heavy doors of oak plated with iron, so
violently did the blast press through the narrow opening. Like a giant
with hundred arms it stood without and thrust back like a helpless
child each one that endeavored to force his way; only our combined
exertions, holding each other's hands and clinging to the rugged
surface of the arch, enabled us to force the pass. Then we hastened
along the way, between the high bastion on one side and the town-fosse
with the prison-buildings on the other side, until we reached the place
where our help was needed.

It was that low rampart which immediately joined the bastion, over the
crest of which I had so often cast a longing eye from the Belvedere
towards the sea and the island. Its length was perhaps five hundred
paces, and then came the harbor with its high stone breakwaters
reaching far out into the sea. At the first sight I perceived why this
place was exposed to such terrible peril in a storm like this. The sea,
driven in by the force of the storm, was caught between the high
bastion, that rested upon immense foundations of solid masonry, and the
long breakwater, as in a _cul-de-sac_, and as it could escape on
neither side, it spent all its force upon the barrier that here barred
its way. If the rampart gave way, the whole lower part of the town was
gone. No one could avoid seeing this who looked from the rampart into
the narrow streets on the water-side, where the ridges of the roofs for
the most part scarcely reached the height of the rampart, so that one
could see over them into the inner harbor which lay on the opposite
side of the harbor-suburb, where now the masts of the ships were
swaying like reeds in the wind.

I think that I did not take more than a quarter of a minute to have a
distinct comprehension of the situation as I have just described it,
and indeed no more time was allowed me. My senses and feelings were too
powerfully seized by the sight of the danger we had come to contend
with. I, who had passed my whole life upon the coast, who had been
tossed for days together by the waves in small or large craft, who had
watched, from the shore at least, many a fierce storm with unwearied
attention and sympathetic terror--I thought that I knew the sea; and
now saw that I no more knew it than any one knows a bomb, who has not
seen one explode and scatter death and destruction around. Not even in
my wildest fancies had I ever approached the reality. This was not the
sea which was an expanse of water forming greater and smaller waves;
this was a monster, a world of monsters rushing upon us with wide-open
jaws, roaring, howling, ravening for prey; it was no longer anything
definite or distinguishable--the destruction of all form, of all
color--chaos that had broken loose to engulf the world.

I believe there was not one of the whole company who was not similarly
affected by the sight. I can see them now standing there--the four
hundred as they had rushed to the crest of the rampart, with pale
faces, their terrified eyes now turned upon the howling chaos, then
upon their neighbors, and then upon the man who had led them here, and
who alone was able to say what was to be done, what could be done.

And never had a hesitating crowd a better leader.

With the true eye of love that thoughtfully gazes into the past, I see
him in so many situations, and always do I behold him noble and good;
but at no moment better and nobler than in this, as he stood upon
the highest point of the rampart, one arm wound round the strong
flag-staff which he had hastily erected, as firm upon his weakened
limbs as the bronze statue of an ancient hero! And hero-like was the
look of his eye which in one glance took in the danger and the remedy;
hero-like was the gesture as he raised his hand, and hero-like was the
voice which in clear incisive tones gave the needful orders.

One detachment was ordered into the low streets to bring up all the
empty casks, boxes and chests they could find; another to go with
spades, baskets and wheelbarrows upon the bastion, where there was
earth in abundance; another into the adjoining glacis with ropes and
axes to fell the trees which for years had been awaiting the enemy
which--though in an unlooked-for form--had now come; another into the
neighboring dock-yards to summon the ship-builders to help us, and to
procure, either by persuasion or force, twenty or thirty large beams
which we absolutely needed. Before half an hour had elapsed, the work,
so well directed, was in full activity. At one place, baskets of earth
were lowered into the rents which the sea had made in the rampart; at
another, posts were driven in and wattled with boughs; at another, a
wall of timbers was built up. And all worked, and hurried, and dug, and
shovelled, and hammered, and wheeled, and dragged great loads, with a
diligence, with an energy, with a cheerful, dauntless courage, that
even now the tears start to my eyes as I think of it; when I think that
these were the men whom society had spurned out; the men who, perhaps
for the sake of a few _groschen_ or a childish craving, had become
common thieves; the men whom I had so often, with disgust, seen sulkily
slouching across the prison court to their work; the men whom the storm
of yesterday, beating against the walls of their prison, had driven to
a frenzy of terror. There lay the town at their feet; they might rush
into it, rob, burn, and murder to their heart's content--who was to
hinder them? There lay the wide world open before them; they had only
to escape into it; who could restrain them? Here was a work more
difficult and more toilsome than any they had ever done; who was it
that compelled them to it? This was the storm before which they had
yesterday trembled in its most appalling form; why did they not tremble
now? Why did they go, jesting, laughing, into the very jaws of death,
when they had to secure and bring in a great mast which had been
drifted in from the harbor, and which the waves were driving like a
battering-ram against the rampart? Why? I believe if all men answered
this why as I answer it, there would no longer be masters and serfs; no
longer would men sing the sad old song of the hammer that would not be
an anvil, for--but wherefore answer a _why_ that only the world's
history can answer? Wherefore lay the secrets of our hearts before a
world which passes by indifferent, unnoticing, or only noticing to
mock!

Whoever looked on at this work--how these men let the skin be
torn from their flesh and the flesh from their bones in their terrible
work--did not laugh; and those who looked on were the poor people of
the water-streets--women and children for the most part, for the men
had to help in the work--who stood below sheltered by the rampart, and
with frightened and astonished faces looked at the gray-jackets, whom
they had usually only watched with timid, suspicious glances as they
passed through the streets in small parties led by overseers from
out-door work. To-day they were not afraid of the gray-jackets; to-day
they prayed that heaven's blessing might go with the food and drink
that they brought to strengthen and refresh those who were exhausted
with the toil. No, they were not afraid of the four hundred; gladly
would they have seen their numbers doubled and tripled.

But there were men living far out of the reach of the danger, whose
lives or property were nowise at stake, and who thus were in a position
acutely to feel the irregularity and illegality of these proceedings.

I remember that, one after the other, the Chief of Police von Raubach,
President von Krossow, the Lieutenant General and Commandant of the
Fort, his excellency Count Dankelheim, came storming our leader with
entreaties, commands, threats, to place his dreaded brigade under locks
and bolts again. I remember that they came together in the evening to
make a combined attack, and I have still to smile when I recall the
cheerful calm with which the good, brave man repelled the assault.

"What would you have, gentlemen?" he said. "Would you really prefer
that hundreds should lose their lives and thousands their property,
rather than that a dozen or a couple of dozen of these poor rascals
should decamp and gain the liberty which they have honestly earned
to-day? But I shall bring them back when the danger is over. Before
that time no man shall move me from here, unless he does it by force;
and happily no one of you is able to do that, gentlemen! And now,
gentlemen, this interview must terminate; night is coming on; we have
at most only a half hour to make our preparations for the night. I have
the honor to wish you good day!"

With these words he waved his hand towards the three high
functionaries, who made an extremely poor figure as they stole off, and
then turned all his attention where he was needed.

Where he was needed at this moment more than ever; for just now, at the
approach of night, it seemed as if the storm had rallied all its force
for a last and decisive assault.

I feared that we should have to succumb; that our desperate toil of six
hours was all in vain. The giant-waves no longer were hurled back;
their crests were torn off and flew far over the rampart into the
streets. Shrieking with terror, the crowd below fled in all directions;
scarcely one among us workmen could hold his place on the summit: I saw
desperate fellows, who had played with the danger hitherto, now turn
pale and shake their heads, and heard them say: "It is impossible:
nothing more can be done."

And now came the most terrible act in this awful drama.

A small Dutch ship which had been moored in the roadstead broke loose
from her anchors and was hurled about in the frightful surf like a
nutshell, now tossed aloft, now engulfed in the trough of the sea, but
driven with every wave nearer the rampart we were defending. We saw the
despairing gestures of the crew, who were clinging to the spars and
rigging: we almost fancied that we heard their cries for help.

"Can we do nothing--nothing?" I cried, turning to the superintendent
with tears of anguish in my eyes.

He shook his head sadly. "This one thing, perhaps," he said, "that when
she is thrown up thus high we may try if we can grapple her so that the
surf may not sweep her back. If it does not succeed they are lost, and
we with them, for she will make a breach in the rampart which we cannot
possibly fill. Let them drive in strong posts, George, and make fast
one end of our thickest rope to them. It is but a feeble possibility;
but there is still a chance. Come!"

We hastened to the spot on which the ship, now but a few hundred feet
distant, was driving. The men had left the crest of the rampart, and
were sheltering themselves as well as they could; but now, when they
saw their leader himself take an axe in his hand, they all came up and
worked with a sort of fury, compared with which all that they had
hitherto done was child's play.

The posts were planted, and the rope fastened. Four of the strongest
men, of whom I was one, stood upon the rampart watching the right
moment.

And what we thought scarcely possible, succeeded! An enormous wave came
rolling up bearing the vessel with it. The wave breaks--a deluge bursts
over us, but we stand firm, clutching the posts with the grip of
desperation; and as soon as we can see again, there lay the ship like a
stranded whale, high upon the rampart. We spring to it; a hundred hands
are busy at once making fast the ropes to the masts; a hundred others
in releasing the pale men--five of them from the yards. All is done
before the next wave breaks. Will it carry off our prize? It comes, and
after it another, and another; but the ropes hold; each wave is weaker
than the last; the fourth does not reach the crest; the fifth falls far
behind. In the fearful incessant thunder, which for so many hours has
been deafening our ears, there comes a sudden pause; the pennons on the
rocking masts of the ships in the inner harbor, which have been flying
towards the east, now droop, and then fly out to the west; the wind
hauls, the storm is over, the victory is ours!

The victory is ours. Every one knows it in a moment. A cheer, that
seemed as if it would never end, bursts from the throats of these rude
men. They grasp each other's hands; embrace each other--Hurrah! and
Hurrah! again and again!

The victory is ours; but it is dearly purchased.

When I looked for him--him whom all had to thank for all--he was no
longer standing on the spot where I had seen him last. But I see the
men running to the place, and I run with them; I outstrip them all,
driven by a fear which gives me wings. I force my way through the
assembled crowd, and find all with bowed heads gazing at a man who lies
upon the ground, his head upon the knees of the old sergeant. The man
is pale as death, and his lips are covered with bloody froth, and all
around him the earth is drenched with fresh blood--his blood--the
heart's blood of that noblest of living men.

"Is he dead?" I hear one of the men ask.

But the hero could not die yet: he has one duty more to perform. He
summons me with a look, and I bend over him as he moves his lips, from
which no sound now issues. But I understand him. I clasp both arms
around him and raise him up. Thus he stands erect, leaning upon me, the
lofty kingly form. They can all see him--the men whom he has led here
and whom he is going to lead back. He glances at his hand, which hangs
helpless, white as wax, at his side; I raise it, and it points in the
direction of the way that we had come at noon. There is not one who
dares disobey this dumb, solemn command. They assemble, fall into rank
and file; the sergeant and I bear their dying leader; and thus we
return in long, slow, sad procession.

Night has come on; and but a few occasional gusts rush by to remind us
of the frightful day we have all passed through. The convicts are
sleeping upon the pillow of a good conscience, which the superintendent
had promised them. Their superintendent sleeps too, and his pillow is
as soft as death in a good and great cause can make it.



                             CHAPTER XVII.


It was a year after these events that a solitary traveller was
ascending the slope of one of the hills of the heath which surrounded
the town of Uselin on the land side. He journeyed slowly, like one who
is wearied with a long march, and laboriously dragged his feet through
that coarse sand with which the sea loves to bestrew its threshold. But
the traveller was not by any means weary; he had journeyed but few
miles that day, and for him twice the exertion had been but child's
play. The little bundle which was slung from a stick over his shoulder
could not overburden him; and yet he went slower and slower as he
approached the three pines which crowned the summit of the hill; indeed
he stopped from time to time and pressed his hand upon his heart, as
though his breath failed him for the few steps that were yet to be
taken. And now he stood on the summit under the pines; the stick with
the bundle slipped from his grasp, and he stretched out his arms toward
the little town which from the strand glittered in a light blended with
the glitter of the sea. Then he threw himself--tall and powerful man as
he was--upon the heather under the pines, weeping and sobbing like a
child, but presently half raised himself, and lay for a long time,
propped by his elbow, steadily gazing at the little sea-port at his
feet, with its peaked gables and steep roofs reddened by the sunset.

What thoughts were passing through the mind of this solitary man? What
emotions were filling his heaving breast?

Many a poet who has carelessly brought his hero into a similar
situation probably finds the answer to this question no such easy task;
but fortunately for me I myself am the wanderer lying under the pines,
and since that time not so many years have flown that the place, the
hour, and what they brought me, could have escaped my memory.

What did they bring?

A host of memories from the years when the man was a light-hearted boy,
and all that he saw around him now but the scenes of his wild sports:
the town, from the depth of the half-filled-up fosse to the tops of the
spires; the gardens, fields, meadows and heaths that surrounded it as
far as these very hills; the harbor with its ships, and the glistening
sea on which he loved to row in a frail boat when the towers, as now,
glowed ruddy in the evening light.

Hither and thither strayed my looks, and everywhere they encountered
objects that greeted me as old acquaintances; but they did not dwell
long upon any one; just as when we search a well-known book for some
especial passage, turning leaf after leaf, and every line that meets
the eye is familiar, and yet we can not light upon the place we are
looking for.

But in truth it was so small and lowly, the old one-storied house with
the painted gable on the narrow harbor-street, and the street lay so
low, covered by the larger houses of the higher part of the town,--how
could I expect from this spot to distinguish the little house with the
narrow gable?

And yet for what other purpose had I made the journey hither, the
sixteen miles from the prison--my first journey after regaining my
freedom--but to see that house, and, if fortune would permit, perhaps
through a crack in the shutter to catch a glimpse of its occupant? For
to go to him, to gaze into his eyes, to throw my arms about his neck,
as my heart yearned to do--this, after what had happened, I dared not
hope. In the short notes with which he had answered my letters, there
had never been, during all the seven years of my imprisonment, one
single word of love, of comfort, of forgiveness.

And my last letter, written a week before, in which I congratulated him
in advance on his sixty-seventh birth-day, told him that this would be
the day of my liberation, and asked if I--now another, and, I hoped, a
better man--might venture to come to him on that day--this letter,
which I had written with wet eyes and a trembling hand, had never been
answered.

The red glow had at last vanished from the high roofs and peaked
gables, from the fluttering pennons of the ships in the outer harbor,
and from the two church-towers; a light mist arose from the meadows and
fields which stretched from the hills upon the heath to the city. The
mail-coach came along the road lined with stunted fruit trees; and I
watched it as it slowly passed tree after tree, until it disappeared
behind the first houses of the suburb. Here and there upon the narrow
foot-path between the fields were seen the figures of laborers moving
toward the town, and these also disappeared. The twilight faded
away; denser grew the mists in the hollows; nothing living was
to be seen except a brace of hares sitting up on their haunches in a
stubble-field, and a great flock of crows, which came croaking from the
pine-forest where I used to play "Robbers and Soldiers" with my
comrades, their black bodies flapping distinct against the lighter sky,
as they bent their course to the old church-towers.

The hour had now come.

I arose, hung my bundle once more over my stick, slowly descended the
hill and took my way through the misty fields to the town. In an
obscure spot in the suburbs I stopped again for awhile--it was not dark
enough for me yet. I neither feared nor had reason to fear any one.
Even before my great enemy, Justizrath Heckepfennig, or those
redoubtable public servants Luz and Bolljahn, had I met them, I need
not have cast down my eyes, or stepped aside; and yet it was not dark
enough.

Now the night breeze rustled louder in the half-stripped boughs of the
maple against which I was leaning, and looking up I saw a star
twinkling through the sprays--now it would do.

How hollow sounded my footsteps in the empty streets, and how heavily
beat my heart in my anxious breast! As I passed the _Rathhaus_, Father
Rüterbusch, the night-watchman, was standing, bare-headed and without
his weapons, at his post, and looking pensively at the empty table and
barrel-chair of Mother Möller's cake stand, while above us the clock in
the tower of St. Nicholas's church struck eight. Was Mother Möller
dead, that Father Rüterbusch thus gazed at the empty barrel, and had
not even a glance for his old acquaintance from the guard-house?

Dead? Why not? She was an old woman when I last saw her--just the age
of my father, as she told me once when I was spending my pocket money
at her stall. As old as my father! A chill wind blew through the hall;
I shivered from head to foot, and with a rapid stride, almost a run, I
hurried over the little market-place down the sloping streets leading
to the harbor.

Here was the Harbor-street, and here was the house! Thank heaven! A
light was glimmering through the shutters of both windows on the left.
Thank heaven once more!

And now would I do and must do what on that other evening I wished to
do and should have done, and yet did not: go in and say to him "forgive
me!"

I grasped the brass knob of the door--again it felt cold as ice to my
hot hand. The door-bell gave a sharp clang, and at its summons appeared
at the door of the right-hand chamber--just as on that evening--the
faithful Friederike. No, not just as on that evening; her little
figure, bent with age, was dressed in black, and a black ribbon
fastened the snow-white cap with its broad ruffle, which formed a ring
of points around her wrinkled face. And out of the wrinkled face two
eyes, red with weeping, stared at the strange visitor.

"Rike," I said--it was all that I could utter.

"George! good heaven!" the old women cried, tottering towards me with
uplifted hands.

She grasped both my hands, and gazed at me, sobbing and speechless,
with quivering lips, while the tears streamed down her furrowed cheeks.
She had no need to speak: I did not ask what had happened: I only asked
"When?"

"A week ago to-day," sobbed the old woman. "He did not even live to see
his birth-day."

"What did he die of?"

"I do not know. Nobody knows. Doctor Balthasar says he cannot
understand it. He has never been quite well since you have been away;
and kept growing worse and worse, though he would never own it; and two
weeks ago he took to his bed, and kept perfectly still, looking always
just before him, only that sometimes he would write in his house-book,
and that on the very evening before; and when I came in the morning he
was dead, and the book was lying on the bed, and I took it myself and
showed it to nobody when they came and sealed up everything. I thought
I ought to keep it for you: he used so often to say your name to
himself when he was writing. What he wrote I don't know; I cannot read;
but I will get it for you."

She opened the door into my father's room. It was neat as
ever--painfully neat, but even more uninhabitable. The white slips of
parchment, fastened with seals over the keyholes of the secretary and
the old brown press in the corner, had a spectral look to me.

"Why is the lamp burning on the table?" I asked.

"They are coming this evening."

"Who are coming?"

"Sarah and her husband, and the children, I believe. Did you not know?"

"I know of nothing--nothing whatever. And there still lies my
letter--unbroken! He never read it!"

I sank into the chair that stood by the writing table. I had never sat
in this chair, had scarcely dared to touch it. A king's throne had
seemed less venerable to me. This thought at once struck me, and was
followed by many, many other painful thoughts: my head sank into my
hands: gladly would I have wept, but I could not weep.

The old woman returned with the book of which she had spoken. I knew it
well; it was a thick quarto volume, bound in leather, with clasps, and
I had often seen it in my father's hands of an evening when he had done
his work; but never had I ventured to cast a look into it, even had I
had the opportunity, which but rarely happened, as my father always
kept it carefully locked up. Now it lay open before me: one after
another I turned the thick leaves of the rough coarse paper, their
pages covered with the neat, pedantically straight hand-writing of my
father, which I knew so well. The hand had not changed, although the
entries extended over more than forty years, and the ink on the first
pages was entirely faded. Only upon the last did this steady strength
seen to fail. The traces of the pen grew ever more angular, feebler;
they were but the ruin of what had formerly been; the last word was
just legible and no more. It was my name.

And everywhere upon the first leaves, those of some twenty-seven years
back, stood my name.

"To-day a son has been born to me--a sturdy little fellow. The nurse
says she never saw in her life so stout a babe, and that he is like St.
George. So he shall be called George, and shall be the joy of my life
and the staff of my old age. May God grant it!"

"George comes on finely," was on another page. "He is already larger
than the Herr Steuerrath's Arthur, who is not small either. He seems to
have a good head of his own. Though only three years old, it is
wonderful what ideas he has. He must soon go to school."

And again on another:

"Clerk Volland is full of praise of my George. 'He might get on better
with his learning,' the old man says; 'but his heart is in the right
place; he will be a fine man some day. I shall not live to see it, but
you will, and then do you remember that I said so.'"

And so it went on, page after page--"George that splendid fellow! My
noble boy, George!"

Then came other times. George's name was not now in almost every line,
and George was no longer the splendid fellow and noble boy. George
would not do right, neither in school, nor at home, nor on the street,
nor anywhere. George was a good-for-nothing! No, no; that was too much
to say; only he could do better if he would, and he certainly would do
better--he certainly would!

Then came many pages and George's name was not mentioned at all. Many a
family event was noted; my mother's death; the terrible news of my
brother's loss; that his daughter Sarah had again--for the third--for
the fourth time--presented him with a grandson or a grand-daughter;
that he had been promoted to an accountant's place; that his salary had
been raised; but George's name appeared no more.

Not even upon the last leaves, which again had references to "him;"
that "he" was so well liked by all in the prison, and that the Herr
Superintendent von Zehren had asked today again if "he" was not yet
found worthy of his father's forgiveness.

"I have tried to-day to write to him what the feelings of my heart are;
but I cannot bring myself to it. I will tell him all when he comes
back, if he cares for the love of an old broken man; but write it I
cannot."

And upon the last page were the words:

"It is not true! It certainly is not true. Six years and a half he has
behaved well, yes, exemplarily, and in the second half of the seventh
to become worthless at once! I hear little good of the new
superintendent. The one that is gone was a noble-spirited man, and he
was always full of praise of him--no, no, whatever they may say of him,
my boy is not worthless, not worthless!"

And last of all:

"In a week he will be free; he will find me upon a sick bed if he finds
me at all. For his sake I wish it; for it would be a great sorrow to
him to see me no more. I have thought all these years that my boy did
not love me, or he would never have given me so much pain; but I had
just now a dream that he was here and I held him in my arms. I said to
him, George----"

I stared with burning eyes at the blank which followed, as if there
must appear upon it the words which my father had said to me in his
dream; but gaze as I might, the words appeared not, and at last I saw
nothing more for the flood of tears that burst from my eyes.

"You must not cry so, George," said the good old woman. "I know he
always loved you more than the rest--very much more. And if he died of
grief and heart-break on your account, why he was an old man, and now
he is dead and with our Heavenly Father, and he is well there, much
better than here, though the good Lord knows that I have had no other
thought these twenty years than to make it all right with him."

"I know it, I know it, and I thank you a thousand times," I cried,
seizing her brown withered bands. "And now tell me, what are you going
to do, and what can I do for you?"

She looked at me and shook her head; it probably seemed strange to her
that George, just out of the prison, should offer to do anything for
her.

I repeated my question.

"Poor boy," she said, "you will have enough to do to provide for
yourself, for what he has left does not amount to much; he was too
good; he would help everywhere that he could, and he bought a place in
the Beguines for me, for the year or two I may still be spared. This
will come out of it, and Sarah made fuss enough when she heard it. They
thought they would get it all'; but it is to be divided equally between
you both. I have that from his own mouth, and I can swear it, and will
swear it, if they raise any dispute, because he left no will."

At this moment there was a loud ring at the front door.

"Good heavens!" cried the old woman, clapping her hands together,
"there they are already!"

She hurried out of the room, leaving the door open after her. I
remembered that I had never loved my sister--that I had parted from her
with unfriendly feelings long years before, and that in the interval I
had by no means learned to love her--but what difference did that make
now? Now, when she and I had lost our father, when we might lean and
take each other's hand across his grave?

I went into the little hall, which was nearly filled by the
newcomers--a tall, lean, pale woman in black; a short, fat, red-faced
man, in the uniform of an officer of the customs; and so far as I could
make out at a glance, a half-dozen children, from ten or twelve years
old to an infant, which the tall, pale woman clutched more firmly as I
appeared at the door, and looked at me with a hostile rather than a
startled look in her large cold eyes. The short, fat man in uniform
stepped between me and the group of mother and children with a confused
expression in his face, and, rubbing his plump hands in an embarrassed
manner, said:

"We were not expecting you--ahem!--brother-in-law ahem! but we are very
glad to meet you here--ahem! My dear wife will only put herself to
rights a little--ahem! In the meantime, suppose we go into our late
father's room, where we can talk over matters undisturbed. Don't you
think so, my dear?"

The little man turned upon his heel to face his dear wife, who, instead
of answering, pushed the children before her into old Friederike's
little room. He turned back to me, rubbed his hands with still more
embarrassment than before, and said again "Ahem!"

We entered my father's room. I took my seat in his chair, but my
brother-in-law was too disturbed in spirit to be able to sit down. He
paced up and down the room with short quick steps, stopping for a
moment every time he passed the door, with his head thrust forward a
little on one side, listening if his dear wife had called him, and
every time, to fill up the pause with propriety, he said "Ahem?"

It was a long detail that the little man went into during his restless
wandering from door to stove and from stove to door, and what he said
was as clumsy and awkward as himself. It seemed that he and his dear
wife had cherished a half hope that I would never be discharged from
prison, especially since I had been detained half a year over my time
for alleged breaches of discipline. He rejoiced exceedingly, he said,
that his fears and those of his dear wife had not been justified; but
that I must admit that it was a hard thing for a public officer to have
a brother-in-law who had been in the House of Correction. Did I think,
now, that an officer with such kindred was likely to gain promotion? It
was frightful, unpardonable, so to speak, and if he could have foreseen
it----

The little man suddenly gave me a furtive look. I was standing
perfectly still, looking steadily at him, was a giant in comparison
with him, and had just come out of prison. It seemed to strike him that
it was not altogether prudent to take this tone with me, so now there
came a long litany of the dolorous life that a petty subaltern with a
large family has to lead on the Polish frontier. True, in conformity
with the wishes of his dear wife, who wanted to nurse her old father,
he had procured his removal to this place; but now the old gentleman,
who no doubt would have taken it kindly of them, must needs die, and
living here was so much more expensive, and then the journey had cost
so much with all these children, and the baby was only sixteen weeks
old, and though the inheritance was left, still _two_ was a heavy
divisor when the dividend was not large, and----

I had heard enough, and more than enough.

"Do you know this book?" I asked, laying my hand on the cover of my
father's diary.

"No," replied the little man.

"Give me this book, and I make no other claim upon my father's estate.
It is his diary, which has no interest for you. Do you consent?"

"Certainly--that is, ahem! I don't know whether my dear wife--we must
first see about it--," answered my brother-in-law, rubbing his hands in
an undecided way, and looking askance at the book out of his little
puffy eyes.

"Then see about it"

I now commenced on my side pacing up and down the room, while the
husband of his dear wife seated himself at the table, to submit this
mysterious book to a closer inspection.

It seemed to excite no especial interest in him by the ordinary process
of reading; so he tried another plan with it, taking it by the two
covers and letting the leaves hang down, which he shook vigorously for
half a minute. As this proceeding also led to no result, he gave up the
matter as hopeless, laid down the book again, and said "Ahem!"

"Are you agreed!" I asked.

"Yes, certainly--to be sure--so to speak--of course; that is, we must
put it down in writing--only a couple of lines--just by way of a
memorandum--we might have it afterwards drawn up by a notary----"

"Whatever you wish, whatever you wish," I said. "Here then!"

The little man glanced at the paper and glanced at me, while I tied up
the book in my bundle, and took bundle and stick in my hand. Either he
did not know what to make of me, or--as from the expression of his
countenance was more probable--considered me simply insane; in either
case he was beyond measure glad to be rid of me.

"Off so soon?" he said. "There's my dear wife, won't you----"

He checked his invitation to see his dear wife. I muttered something
that might pass for an excuse, left the room, pressed old Friederike's
hand as I passed through the hall, and stood in the street.

I have but a dim recollection of the hour that followed. It is not a
dream, and yet it seems like a dream, that I went to the grave-yard in
the mill-suburb, roused up the old sexton, who was just going to bed;
that I kneeled by a recent grave, and afterwards gave the old man, who
stood by me with a lantern, money to cover the hillock next morning
with fresh sods; that I went back again, and near the gate passed the
villa of the commerzienrath, where all the windows were illuminated,
and I could see couples gliding past them in the dance to a music which
I could not hear, and that I thought the little Hermine might be among
the dancers, and then remembered that the pretty child would now be
seventeen years old, if she were still alive.

I felt an irrepressible sadness; it seemed as if all the world had
died, and I was the only living being left, and the shades of the dead
were dancing round me to inaudible music.

Thus I went back with unsteady steps to the town, and passed along the
empty silent streets towards the harbor, mechanically following the way
which I had always taken when a boy.

The sea-breeze blew in my face, and cooled my fevered brow, and I
inhaled deep draughts of the invigorating air. No, the world was not
dead, nor was I the only living being left; and there was a music, a
delicious music, sweeter to me than any other: the music of the wind
whistling through spars and cordage, and the waves plashing upon the
harbor-bar and before the prow of the ship. Yes, there were still those
who loved me, and whom I with all my soul could love again.

Upon the wharf, where the steamboat for St. ---- was now lying at her
moorings, there was standing a crowd of people. It struck me that I
could best commence my journey to the capital by this steamer.

Considering this, I was standing at the head of the pier, when a
litter, such as is used to transport the sick, was carried past me
towards the crowd. The litter was without the usual cover, which had
probably been forgotten in their haste, or, as it was night, not
considered necessary.

"What is the matter?" I asked the men.

"The fireman of the _Elizabeth_ has broken his leg." growled one in
reply, in whom I now recognized my old friend, officer Luz.

"And we are to take him to the hospital," said the other, who was no
other than the redoubtable Bolljahn.

"Poor fellow!" I exclaimed.

"Yes," said Luz, "and his wife has just been brought to bed."

"And they had eight already," growled Bolljahn.

"No, seven," said Luz.

"No, eight," said Bolljahn.

The group upon the pier began to move.

"There he lies now," said Luz.

"No, eight," said Bolljahn, who was not the man to drop a disputed
point so soon.

They had brought the man out of the ship to the pier. He was a
remarkably large and powerful man, whom six found it no easy task to
carry, and who, strong as he was, groaned and cried with pain. The two
men put down the litter; the bearers set about lifting the man into it,
very awkwardly as it seemed, for he screamed with anguish. I thrust a
couple of gapers aside and came up. They had laid him upon the ground
again; I asked him how he wanted to be placed, and took hold myself
with the others, showing them what to do.

"Thank God!" murmured the poor fellow, "here is one man with some
sense."

They carried him off, and I went a little distance with them to see how
they got on. Was he warm enough? Yes he was. Did they carry him well?
Well, they might shake him a little less.

"Here is something for you too," I said, putting a piece of money into
the hand of each of my old acquaintances, "and now carry him as if he
were your brother or your child;" and then I bent over the injured man
and whispered something in his ear that it was not necessary for Luz
and Bolljahn to hear, and gave him something which it was equally
unnecessary for them to see; and then I turned again to the group which
was standing by the gang-plank of the steamer, discussing the
remarkable accident.

At this moment the captain came out upon the gang-plank, and called to
the group:

"Will any one of you take Karl Riekmann's place for this trip? I will
pay him good wages."

The men looked at each other. "I can't, Karl," said one, "can't you?"
"No, Karl," said the one addressed, "but can't you, Karl?" "Neither can
I," said the third Karl.

"I will," said I, stepping up to the captain.

The captain, a short, square-built man, looked up at me.

"Oh, you will do," he said.

"I think so."

"Can you go on board at once?"

"There is nothing to detain me here."



                             CHAPTER XVIII.


A gray foggy morning succeeded to the cold windy night. It was six
o'clock when the _Elizabeth_ left the wharf, and I had been busy with
the fires since three. I soon fell into the work, and scarcely needed
the instructions of the lumpish, growling engineer. I had to laugh once
or twice involuntarily when the man, seeing me attend to this or the
other matter about the engine without directions, stared at me with a
look half of surprise and half of vexation. I had told him that I was
an entire novice at this work, and this was the literal truth; but I
had not told him, nor was there any necessity that I should, that I had
thoroughly studied marine steam-engines with the best of teachers, and
had familiarized myself with even the minutest parts on an excellent
model. And if in a few hours I had mastered the work of a regular
fireman, in even a less time I had acquired the appearance of one. To
save my own clothes I had laid them in part aside, and put on a working
blouse of my unlucky predecessor, which fitted me perfectly; and what
with handling the coal and the effects of a stream of smoke which drove
into my face for quite ten minutes from the refractory furnace while I
was making up the fires, even my friend Doctor Snellius, who piqued
himself so greatly upon his physiognomical memory, would not have
recognized me. But I cared little for this, for happily I had other
things to occupy my attention.

I say happily, for it was ill with me in both head and heart. The death
of my father, who had died without my being able even once to press his
stern honorable hand, the meeting with my sister who put her children
out of my way as if they were endangered by my presence, the prospect
of the future which looked all the darker the more I thought over
it--all this would have completely overwhelmed me had not the honest
furnace been there in which the coals glowed so splendidly and the
flames danced so merrily, while the sturdy engine worked on manfully
and unresting. Only free work can make us free, my teacher had said to
me. I had believed him at his word, but to-day for the first time I
comprehended it, as I felt how the hard work which I had here to
perform lightened more and more the load upon my heart, and the clouds
passed away from my brow.

A kind of joyful pride took hold of me as I felt myself at home here;
and I thought of that day eight years' before when I took that fateful
trip on the _Penguin_ and visited my friend Klaus in the engine-room,
and to my wine-heated brain the engine appeared a machine only fit to
crush the life out of me. The good Klaus! He had trouble enough with me
that day, and care enough about me; and I should give him both trouble
and care now if I should go to him to learn with his help to be a good
workman. Some care I should give him, not much; I had found out this
morning that I could stand more firmly on my own feet than I had
supposed.

Far more firmly than my present superior, the bearded engineer, stood
upon his. He stood by no means firmly, the honest fellow, and his
watery eyes as well as the sleepy expression of his far from handsome
face, and the vulgar perfume of alcohol which he diffused about him,
made it obvious that his unsteady gait was not altogether due to the
rolling of the boat. The worthy man was not exactly drunk--a regular
engineer is never drunk, even though he sits up to two or three in the
morning in a tavern drinking Swedish punch with his colleagues from the
Swedish mailboat--but neither was he sober; so far from it that I on my
side began to look at my superior with suspicious looks when, standing
by his lever, he sank into deep meditation, which often bore a striking
resemblance to a peaceful slumber.

"A warming-plate wanted on the forward deck; quick, Herr Weiergang!"
called the steward down to the engine-room. Herr Weiergang nodded at
me: it was a matter that concerned me especially. I knew what was
wanted. I had been often enough on steamboats in rough weather when the
motion of the boat rendered it impossible for those ladies who readily
suffered from sea-sickness to remain in the cabin, and the sharp
north-east wind and the spray made the exposure upon deck disagreeable
and sometimes intolerable. Intolerable, if the honest fireman were not
at hand with plates of iron cast especially for this purpose, which he
has heated on the boiler and obligingly places under their half-frozen
feet.

To-day I was the honest fireman. It struck me rather oddly; in all my
life I had never done this service; had never dreamed that I should
ever have to perform it. Had I to do it then? Certainly: I had
undertaken the duty of the injured man, and this was part of his duty.
So in five minutes I was on deck, holding a well-heated iron in my
hands, which I had protected by a bunch of oakum.

It was now about noon, and the first time I had been on deck. The
atmosphere was gray and dense with mist; one could scarcely see a
hundred paces ahead. The wind was contrary, so that, though it was not
violent, the boat pitched heavily, and a cold fine spray from the waves
that broke against the bow swept continually over the deck.

The deck was nearly deserted, or at least seemed so, as the ten
or twenty passengers were crouching in every corner, behind the
paddle-boxes, the deck-cabin, and wherever any projection offered a
little shelter.

"Here, my friend, here!" cried a voice that had a familiar sound to me,
and turning suddenly around, I gave so violent a start that I had
nearly dropped the plate. There stood a man, who, though he had now a
gray old-fashioned overcoat with wide sleeves over his blue frock-coat
with gold buttons, and wore his cap not pushed back from his forehead,
as usual, but pulled down over his eyes--could be no other than my old
friend Commerzienrath Streber.

"Here, my friend!" he cried again, and pointed with his right hand,
while with his left he held fast to the capstan, to a lady crouching
with her back towards me upon a low chair behind a great coil of cable
at the bow of the vessel. The lady drew a large plaid cloak, lined with
some soft and fine material, close around her slender figure, and
turned her face, which was framed in a swan's-down hood, towards me.

It was a sweet lovely girlish face, upon whose cheeks the sea-breeze
had kissed the delicate pink to a bright glow, and whose deep-blue
brilliant eyes contrasted singularly with the gray water and the gray
air. It had been seven years since I saw this face last. The child had
become a maiden; but the maiden had still the face, or at least the
mouth and eyes of the child, and by this mouth and these eyes I knew
her. I started involuntarily and had to grasp the plate firmly to save
it from falling on the wet deck, while I felt the blood rushing to my
cheeks. It was certainly a severe trial to appear before the maiden who
had been my little friend in other days, in such a costume, and with a
face embrowned with soot.

But this dress and this sooty covering were what saved me; she looked
up at me with a little surprise but without recognizing me.

"Lay it here, my friend," she said, leaning back a little in her chair,
and raising the edge of her skirt a little, so that I had a glimpse of
the daintiest little feet in the world, resting on their heels to keep
them from the wet deck.

I kneeled, and did what was required, no more and no less; perhaps
rather less than more, for she said:

"You can bring me another by and by, if you have time; you do not seem
to have time just now."

"Yes; and bring one for me at once!" cried the commerzienrath.

"And for me, if I may venture to ask," cried a thin voice from a corner
between the deck-house and the mast, where out of some half-dozen
shawls and wrappings peeped out a red nose, and in the wind fluttered a
yellow curl which could belong to no one but Fräulein Amalie Duff.

"And for me!" "And for me!" cried a half-dozen other voices from as
many other piles of mufflings, whose owners, with the promptness of
desperation, had comprehended the advantage of a hot iron plate on a
wet deck.

"But for me first!" screamed the commerzienrath, getting alarmed at the
competition. "You know who I am, don't you?"

I did not deem it necessary to assure the Herr Commerzienrath that I
knew him more than well enough, and hastened away from the deck, which
was getting hotter to me than my furnace. I went below in a very
unenviable frame of mind, and the thought that presently I must go on
deck again brought great beads of perspiration to my forehead; but when
I thought the matter over I found that my agitation was merely
occasioned by very ordinary vanity. I hated to appear before the pretty
girl as a sooty monster--this it was and nothing more; and while I was
thus thinking as I stood by the boiler, the plates upon it had long
reached the needful temperature, and the steward had called down three
times to know if I was not ready with those confounded irons.

"Be ashamed of yourself!" I said to myself; "the poor things up there
are freezing because you happen to have on a ragged blouse, and a patch
or two of soot on your face. Shame upon you!"

And I was ashamed of myself, and went up the ladder and boldly marched
direct to the place where the poor half-frozen governess was crouching
in her wet wrappings.

Raising her water-blue eyes to me with the expression of helpless
misery, she said, while her teeth chattered with cold, "You good man,
you are my preserver!"

"Why do you not stay in the cabin?" I asked. I had no need to speak
in _Platt-Deutsch_, or to disguise my voice, which either the sharp
north-easter, or my embarrassment, or both together, made unnaturally
deep and rough.

"I should die down there!" moaned the poor creature.

"Then sit over there by the paddle-box, where you have some shelter.
You have here the worst place on the whole deck."

"O you good man!" said the governess. "It is indeed an eternal truth
that there are good men in every clime."

I had to bite my lips.

"Can I assist you?" I said. "If you do not mind my working-dress----"

"'Among monsters the only feeling breast,'" murmured the governess,
hanging on my arm.

"Where are you going, dear Duff?" cried a joyous voice behind us, and
Hermine, who had sprung from her seat, came running up, apparently to
help her friend, but if this was her intention, she could not carry it
out for laughing. She clapped her hands and laughed until her white
teeth glittered between her red lips. "Pluto and Proserpine!" she
cried. "Düffchen, Düffchen, I always said they would carry you off from
me some day!"

And she danced about the wet deck in wild glee, just as she had danced
with her little spaniel about the deck of the _Penguin_ eight years
before.

"Are you ever coming to me, you fellow?" cried the commerzienrath, who,
squeezed into a corner, had watched my attentions to the governess with
very ill-pleased looks.

"There are two ladies here yet," I said.

"But I called you first," he cried, stamping with impatience.

"Ladies must always be served first, Herr Commerzienrath," smilingly
remarked the captain, who was coming aft from the forward deck.

"O, you can talk: you are used to this abominable cold," growled the
commerzienrath.

I went below again, but not to stay long. The cry for warm plates had
grown general, and a hard job I had of it to satisfy the impatient
clamors from all quarters. The weather had in the mean time grown
rougher, and the fog increased in density. I observed that the
captain's jovial face grew graver and graver, and once I heard him say
to a passenger who had the appearance of a seafaring man:

"If we were only well out of the cursed channel once. With this wind
the largest ships can come in; and we can not see a hundred paces
ahead."

I knew enough of seamanship fully to comprehend the captain's
uneasiness; and I had another anxiety of my own besides.

My superior, namely, the engineer Weiergang, had visibly with every
hour sunk deeper and deeper into meditation upon the felicities
attending the copious indulgence in Swedish punch; and though he still
mechanically stood at his post and performed his duties about the
engine, where now, as the vessel was going steadily ahead, there was
but little to do, I still did not leave the engine-room without
considerable uneasiness. How easily might it happen that the narrowness
of the channel should render a complicated man[oe]uvre necessary, and
was the nodding figure there in a condition to carry it out?

I had gone on deck with another plate, intended for no other than the
blue-eyed, vivacious beauty. She had resumed her old place at the bow,
and gave me a friendly nod as I approached.

"I give you a great deal of trouble," she said.

"No trouble at all," I answered, with a bow.

"Are you from Uselin?" she asked, while I arranged the plate.

"No," I muttered, about to take a hasty departure.

"But you speak our _Platt_." she said quickly, and looked sharply at me
with a surprised expression.

I felt that the coating of soot on my cheeks must be very thick indeed
to hide the flush which I felt burning in my cheeks.

"Ship in sight!" suddenly shouted the man at the foretop.

An immense dark mass loomed out of the gray fog. A feeling of terror,
not for myself, seized me. I, too, shouted with my whole strength,
"Ship in sight!" and following an impulse which flashed upon me like
lightning, I bounded across the deck to the hatch leading to the
engine-room, while the captain upon the paddle-box was shouting through
his trumpet like mad--"Stop her! Back her!" an order which evidently
was not obeyed, for the boat rushed through the water with undiminished
speed.

How I got down the steep ladder I do not know. I only know that I flung
the drunken engineer out of the way, pushed the lever to the other
side, and simultaneously threw open the throttle-valve and let on the
full head of steam.

A mighty shock followed, making the whole boat quiver as it struggled
in the waves, produced by the reversed wheels. The push I had given
him, and, perhaps still more the violent jar of the boat, had awakened
the drunken engineer. In his confusion he rushed upon me like a madman
to force me from my post, so that I defended myself against him with
difficulty.

It was a terrible moment. Every instant I expected to feel the crash of
the collision.

But a minute passed, and with it passed the danger, for I knew that by
this time the collision must have taken place, if we had not escaped
it: and now resounded through the speaking-trumpet the order, "Stop
her!"

I placed the lever in the middle and closed the throttle-valve. My
prompt execution of an order which he had plainly heard brought the
engineer at once to his senses. Now for the first time he seemed to
understand what I had kept shouting to him while we were struggling
together; a deathly pallor overspread his bearded face, as some one
came rapidly down the ladder.

"Don't ruin me," he murmured.

It was the captain, who wanted to see what upon earth was the matter
below. Upon his good-natured honest face was still the trace of terror
at the peril we had just escaped.

"What is the meaning of this, Weiergang?" he cried to the engineer.

"I was--I had--" he stammered.

"Seeing to the fire," I put in.

"And so--" he began again--

"We will look into this another time," said the captain, looking
fixedly at the unfortunate man.

The captain knew his man. He saw that the man, whatever might have been
his previous condition, was now thoroughly sober and fit for duty.

"We will look into it later," he repeated, and then turning to me,
said:

"Come on deck with me."

I followed the captain, but not without first casting a glance at the
engineer, whose meditations upon the effects of Swedish punch were now
at an end, and who, in desperation at the frightful results of his
indulgence, cast a supplicating look at me.

"What was the matter?" the captain asked me.

I held it my duty to tell him the whole truth, accompanying it with an
entreaty that the man might be forgiven.

"He has always been the soberest fellow in the world," said the
captain. "This is the first time he has ever behaved so."

"Then I trust it is the last time," I replied.

"I cannot comprehend it," said the captain. He spoke with me as if I
was his equal.

"You have done me a great service," he continued. "Who are you? It
seems to me I must have seen you before; and the ladies on deck have
the same fancy."

"Never mind about that, captain," I said.

This brief dialogue took place while we were going up the ladder. The
captain could not any further indulge the curiosity that had visibly
seized him; he had too much to do.

My first glance, as I reached the deck, was involuntarily directed
towards the ship which had so nearly been our destruction, and which
now was disappearing in the fog astern of us; my next sought Hermine,
who, with her maid, was busy recovering the governess, who had fainted.
A sense of satisfaction, almost exultation, filled my breast. Thus
might a general feel who has won a battle that he might have lost
without disgrace.

The poor governess was not the only victim of the terror with which the
frightfully imminent peril had filled the passengers of the
_Elizabeth_. Here and there sat a lady with a face as white as that of
a corpse; even the men looked pale and agitated, and were just
beginning to talk over the occurrence. And, in fact, the situation must
have been in the highest degree alarming. The approaching ship--a
merchantman of the largest size--had been so negligently steered that
the _Elizabeth_, though her engines were reversed and the full head of
steam turned on, only escaped the collision by a few feet. Then the
shock that shook the boat, the cracking and creaking of the planks, the
crash of some half-dozen of the paddles that snapped at once--one did
not need Fräulein Amalie Duff's susceptibility of nerves to be
overwhelmed at such a moment.

Even now the state of things was not agreeable. The large steamer
rolled in the heavy sea all the more violently now the engine had been
stopped, on account of the injury to the wheels. Happily the wind was
favorable, and sail was quickly made, so that we were able to control
her with the helm. All the spare hands were busy repairing the paddles
as far as possible, and I had learned enough of the carpenter's craft
to lend a hand at once. I was not sorry in this way to avoid the
inquisitive eyes of Hermine, and of Fräulein Duff, who possessed the
talent of recovering from a swoon as promptly as she had fallen into
it, and was now engaged in a conversation with her pupil and friend,
which it could scarcely be doubted had some reference to me.

"Look as much as you please," I said to myself "I am, in spite of all,
no worse than many another upon whom you have cast or will cast your
beautiful eyes."

And yet I was glad, as she seemed about to come over to the place where
I was standing, that I could creep into the open paddle-box, where
things looked queer enough. As there was a heavy sea running we were
obliged to confine our repairs to the merest make-shift.

In an hour the work was done, and we were ordered to the forward deck,
where the bowsprit of the passing ship had carried away a part of the
bulwarks.

I congratulated myself, when I crept out of the paddle-box, that the
deck was nearly deserted, and especially that Hermine was nowhere to be
seen; but as I passed the forecastle she suddenly appeared before me
with her governess. The meeting was not accidental, for the duenna at
once stepped back, but the young lady remained standing, and, looking
up with her great blue eyes into mine, asked boldly:

"Are you George Hartwig, or are you not?"

"I am," I replied.

"How came you here? What are you doing here? Are you a sailor, or
fireman, or what? And why? Can you do nothing better? Is this a fit
place for you?"

These questions followed each other so rapidly that I contented myself
with answering the last.

"Why not? It is no disgrace to be a fireman."

"But you look so--so black--so sooty--so frightful. I cannot bear such
black men. You used to look much, very much better."

I did not know what to answer to this, so I merely shrugged my
shoulders.

"You must come away from here!" said the young beauty, vivaciously.
"This is no place for you."

"And yet it was very well that I was here to-day," I said with a touch
of pride, of which I felt ashamed as soon as I had said it.

"I know it," she answered. "The captain told us. It is like you; but
for that very reason you should not stay here. You are destined to
something better than this."

"I thank you, Fräulein Hermine, for your kind interest," I answered
gravely; "but what I am destined to, the result must show. In the mean
time I must pursue my way, wherever it leads me."

She looked at me partly in displeasure, and partly, as it seemed to me,
with compassion, and added quickly:

"You are poor: perhaps that is the reason you are here and look
so--so--not nice. My father must help you: he is very rich."

"I know it, my dear young lady," I replied: "but just for that reason I
do not desire his help."

A bright glow suffused her cheeks; her blue eyes flashed, and her red
lips quivered.

"Then I will detain you no further."

She turned quickly from me and hastened away.

I was still standing in the same place, when Fräulein Duff came
suddenly from behind the corner of the forecastle, where she had been
an attentive if an invisible witness of our interview. Her watery eyes,
in which sympathetic tears were now standing, were raised to mine, and
she whispered in her softest tones, "Seek faithfully, and you will
find!" Then prudently avoiding a reply on my part, she hurried after
her young lady.

An hour later we touched at the wharf of St. ----.

I was below in the engine-room, where there was now enough to do, to my
great satisfaction. I heard the noises upon deck, as the passengers
hastened to leave the ship on board which they had passed so unpleasant
a time. She also was leaving it--perhaps at this moment. It was very
improbable that I should ever see her again. Why should I, indeed?

The question seemed a matter of course, and yet I sighed as I asked it
of myself.

My leave-taking of the engineer was brief, but not unfriendly. He had
already told me that he had "made it all right with the captain." He
seemed at bottom a worthy man, and I parted from him with a mind at
ease.

I had hoped to slip away from the boat unperceived, but the captain
called to me as I was crossing the deck with my bundle. He told me that
he had learned that I was the son of the late Customs-Accountant
Hartwig in Uselin, whom he had known well. He had also heard of my
misfortunes, but they were no affair of his. I had this day done the
owners, and himself personally, an important service, and it was his
duty to thank me for it, and to ask me if his owners and himself could
not in some way testify their gratitude.

I said, "Yes; you can if you will take something more than common care
of the man whose place I have filled today, and who would have done
what I did had he been here."

The captain saw that it was no use to press me further; so he promised
faithfully to comply with my request, and shook my hand heartily,
saying that it would give him the greatest pleasure to meet me again.

This had occupied some time, and yet a carriage and horses, which I had
noticed on the arrival of the steamer, were still standing on the
wharf. Just as I approached them, however, they started off; but I
caught a glimpse of a youthful face in a swan's-down hood vanishing
from the window, from which it had been looking at something or some
one on the wharf.

The luxurious carriage rolled away, and I gazed after it with a sigh.
Not that I coveted the carriage with the two high-mettled bays. The
distance from St. ---- to the capital was more than eighty miles, it
was true, and I was obliged to economize the little sum I had saved up
in the prison: but I knew that I could walk without much fatigue
twenty-five or thirty miles a day, and I felt fresher and stronger than
ever. It was therefore scarcely the carriage with the mettled bays for
which my sighing heart was yearning.



                              CHAPTER XIX.


I had travelled during the day a long distance upon an interminable
turnpike-road where the rows of poplars on each side stretched away
until they met at the horizon in an acute angle which never widened,
never came nearer, and whose unattainability was enough to drive the
most patient traveller to desperation. The autumn rains had made the
roads heavy and slippery to the feet. All the morning the wind had
rustled with a melancholy sound in the half-leafless poplars, and about
noon it had commenced to rain, and wet and dreary looked the sandy
heaths and desolate fields on either side the road, while every human
creature and every animal that I met wore a cheerless and dejected
aspect. I had already given up the expectation of reaching the city
that evening, so I felt it as an unhoped-for piece of good fortune when
I saw a reddish-yellow glare of misty light rising above the horizon,
which a solitary wanderer whom I had overtaken explained to be the
reflection of the city-lights. And now indeed my enemies, the poplars,
began to give place to suburban houses. The suburb was long enough, it
is true, but houses can not hold out as long as poplars; and--"There is
the gate," said at last my companion, and bade me good evening.

There was the gate. It was by no means imposing, and did not attract
much attention from me. This, however, was excited by an accumulation
of buildings immediately, to the left of the gate, which by their size,
and the ruddy light shining through colossal windows, I inferred to
belong to a large manufactory. A high iron railing divided the
courtyard from the street, and in this railing was a wide gate, one
side of which was standing open for the egress of the workmen, who were
coming out, first one by one, then in groups, and finally in a compact
throng. Outside the gate, they scattered in various directions, while
some remained in groups about the gate, talking with animation. I heard
the words "day's wages," "piece work," "quitting service,"
"notification," frequently repeated; but I could not catch the
connection, and did not feel at liberty to ask any questions. Nearer to
the railing, with her back toward me, was standing a young woman
holding in front of her a little boy, who stood upon the stone
foundation of the railing and held fast to the bars, gazing eagerly
into the yard, down which dark figures were still coming, though in
fewer numbers.

"What factory is this?" I asked, stepping up to the young woman.

She turned her head and answered, "The machine-works of Commerzienrath
Streber. Keep still, George; your father will be along directly."

The feeble light of a street-lamp fell upon her pretty round face. The
commerzienrath's machine-works--George, whose father was coming
directly--the good-natured bright eyes--the full, red lips--I could not
be mistaken.

"Christel Möwe!" I said; "Christel Pinnow! is this really you?"

"Bless my heart alive!" exclaimed the young woman, hastily putting down
the child from the railing; "is it you, Herr George? See, George, this
is your godfather;" and she held up the boy as high as she could, that
he might have a better view of so important a personage, "How glad
Klaus will be!"

She put the boy down again, who no sooner felt himself at liberty than
he began to try his best to climb up to the railing again. I took him
in my arms. "Are you a giant?" asked the little man, patting my head
with his hands.

At this moment a square-built, grimy figure came up, apparently rather
surprised to see his wife in such familiar conversation with a strange
man, who had moreover his George in his arms; but before either
Christel or I could say a word he tore his black felt cap from his
head, waved it in the air like a conquering banner, and shouted,
"Hurrah! here he is! George has come!"

It was long since any human lungs had emitted a cry of joy on my
account, and it was probably owing to this novelty that at the good
Klaus's exuberant greeting my eyes filled with tears, so that the whole
scene--the factory, the houses, the street-lamps, the passing
carriages, the black workmen, and even the little group of friends at
my side--swam for a moment in a misty veil.

This emotion passed in a few moments, and we went on together, Klaus
holding the little George on one arm, and clinging to the great George
with the other, while Christel walked before, every instant looking
over her shoulder at us with a smiling face.

Happily the distance through the crowded street was not long, and we
soon reached a large and, to my eyes, stately house, the inside of
which corresponded but poorly to its exterior. The hall was dimly
lighted, and the floors black with dirt from innumerable footsteps that
seemed to have traversed it the same day. The yard into which we passed
was surrounded by lofty buildings, behind whose windows, feebly lighted
here and there, there did not prevail that peace which a lover of quiet
would have preferred. The stone staircase which we ascended to one of
these rear-buildings was very steep, and, if possible, worse lighted
and dirtier than the hall we had just entered. Persons passed us at
every moment, who seemed far more reckless of the rules of politeness
than was pleasant. I felt rather uncomfortable as we climbed from one
landing to another, following Klaus, who gave no signs of halting, and
at last in desperation I asked if we would not soon be there.

"Here we are!" said Klaus, knocking at a door, which was immediately
opened from within, and from which, as it was opened, issued that
penetrating odor which arises in an apartment where all day long the
process of ironing freshly-starched linen is kept up. Any illusion as
to the origin of this odor was the less possible, as the irons were at
this moment in operation in the hands of two young women, who, as well
as the third who had opened the door for us, cast glances of curiosity
at the new arrival.

"So it goes on the whole day," said Klaus, with a glance of profoundest
admiration at his wife, who had joined the ironers; "the whole
day--only in the evening she allows herself a quarter of an hour to
fetch me home from the works."

"You are a lucky fellow, Klaus," said I, in vain trying to draw a full
breath in this atmosphere.

"Am I not?" replied Klaus, showing all his teeth, which had lost
nothing of their glittering whiteness; "but that is not much yet. You
must first see her babies!"

"And yours, Klaus?"

"And mine, of course," Klaus answered, in a tone which implied that it
really was not worth while to allude to so unimportant a particular.
"You must first see them!"

"I know one already."

"Yes; but the others! Her very image, every one! It is really
ridiculous--really ridiculous," he repeated, with another glance of
admiration at his little plump wife.

"You don't know what you are talking about, you stupid fellow," said
the latter, turning sharply around, and laying a hand that bore traces
of hard work, and yet was both white and small, on the mouth of her
Klaus. "Let us go into the sitting-room. You must excuse me for keeping
you here so long."

We went into the room, but Klaus did not rest until his wife had taken
us into the chamber, where, beside two large beds, stood four little
cribs, in which were sleeping four charming children, for my little
namesake had by this time been put to bed by one of the young women.

"Isn't that too lovely!" said Klaus, drawing me from one blond head to
another; "and all boys--all boys; but that just suits me: a girl I
should expect to be exactly like _her_, and that is a simple
impossibility--a simple impossibility."

Here Christel pushed me out of the bedroom, as she had before pushed me
out of the kitchen.

"You stay here," she said to her husband, "and wash yourself, and fix
yourself up decent, you great bear, as you ought when we have such a
visitor."

Klaus showed his teeth with delight at his Christel's jest.

"Whatever I do, pleases him," said Christel, shutting the door with
mock-disgust at his black face.

"Better that than if it were the other way," I said.

"Yes: but sometimes he carries it too far. I often am ashamed, and
wonder what people think of it. And he gets worse every year; I really
don't know what I shall do when the children are older; I often think
they will lose all respect for their father."

While Christel thus unbosomed her secret woe, she was neatly and deftly
setting the table, while I, standing before the stove, in which a
cheerful fire was burning, thought of by-gone times: of that evening
when I met the Wild Zehren first at Pinnow's forge, and how Christel
had set the table and waited, and how she afterwards besought me not to
go with him. Had I then followed her counsel! All would have been
different. Perhaps better, perhaps not. But so it had happened, and----

"You must put up with what we have," said Christel.

"That I will, Christel, that I will!" I said, seizing both her hands
and pressing them with a warmth which seemed a little to startle her.

"How wild you are still," she said, looking up at me with her blue eyes
in surprise, but with no mixture of displeasure. "Exactly as you used
to be."

"You don't like me any the less on that account, Christel, do you?"

She shook her head smiling: "Those used to be lively times."

"In winter, over the mulled wine," I said.

"And in summer, over the _kaltschale_," she replied.

"Especially when the old man was not at home," I added.

"Yes, indeed," she said; but her countenance took a serious expression,
and she continued, looking at me gravely, "you know it then?"

"Know what, Christel?"

"That he----"

She laid her finger upon her lips and drew me, with an uneasy look at
the chamber-door, further back into the room.

"He must not hear it--he has not got over it yet, though it is now more
than three months ago."

"What was three months ago, Christel?" I asked in some alarm, for the
young woman had turned quite pale, and cast uneasy glances first at me
and then at the bed-room door.

"I hardly know how to tell you," she said. "He lived at last entirely
alone, for no one would have anything to do with him, and even the deaf
and dumb Jacob left him. Nobody knew exactly how he lived; and for a
week no one had seen him, until one day the collector came for the
house-tax, and--and found him hanging in the forge, over the hearth,
where he must have been hanging nobody knows how long."

"Poor Klaus!" I said. "He must have felt it deeply, in spite of all."

"Indeed he did," said Christel. "And no one knows how he came to his
death; whether he did it himself, or whether it was done by others; for
they swore--at that time, you know--that they would settle with him one
day."

"Very likely, very likely," I said.

"Here I am again," said Klaus, coming in in his best coat, and with a
face as red as cold water, black soap, and a coarse towel, all applied
in haste, could make it.

The supper, at which Christel's young assistants joined us, was soon
over, and after the cloth had been removed, the girls dismissed, and
Christel had mixed us a glass of grog, for which she had not forgotten
her old recipe, Klaus and I fell into such discourse as naturally
arises between old friends who have not seen each other for many years,
and have gone through many experiences in the interval. I had to
narrate to Klaus the story of my imprisonment from that time in the
first year when he paid me that memorable visit, which was within a
hair of bringing him into contact with the criminal law. Not that I
could tell him, or even desired to tell him, everything, good fellow as
he was. We do not admit our friends, even the most intimate, behind the
inmost of the seven walls with which we prudently surround the citadel
of our soul; but enough came to discourse to arouse the interest of the
good Klaus to the highest pitch, and quite passionate was his sympathy
when I came to speak of the last period of my imprisonment, when I fell
into the hands of the new superintendent and his accomplice, the pious
Deacon Von Krossow, and in seven worse than lean months had to expiate
the seven years of fatness which I had hitherto enjoyed.

"The wretches! The villains! Is it possible? Are such things allowed?"
the good Klaus kept muttering.

"Whether it is allowed or not, my dear Klaus, I cannot say; but that it
is possible is only too certain. Under the most frivolous pretexts in
the world I was deprived of my place as secretary, and treated as an
unusually ill-disposed and contumacious prisoner; and as all that did
not satisfy their vengeance, I was ordered seven months of disciplinary
punishment beside."

"And what did the good old overseer whom I saw with you that day say to
that?"

"Sergeant Süssmilch? He would have sworn terribly, I promise you, if he
had seen it. Fortunately, he went away with the family of Herr von
Zehren a week after the death of the latter."

"I would never have done that," said Klaus with emphasis; "I would never
have left you alone in their robber-den."

"But he had other claims upon him, of longer standing, Klaus."

"All the same: I would not have left you."

Then I told how I had been discharged at last, how my first visit had
been to my native town, and the reception I met with there.

"Poor George! poor George!" said Klaus, over and over again, shaking
his big head in sympathy.

"But you have had a harder trial still, poor fellow," I said.

"Who told you that?" asked Klaus, quickly.

"She did," I answered, pointing to the room in which Christel had been
for the last five minutes busied in a vain attempt to quiet the wails
of her youngest.

"Hush," said Klaus, "we must not speak of it so that she can hear; it
is different with us men, but a little woman like that--it always has a
dreadful effect upon her, poor thing: I am frightened whenever any
legal paper comes in about the adjustment of the estate--you
understand."

"Your father left a very respectable sum, did he not?"

"God forbid," said Klaus. "They must have robbed him, or else he buried
it; and either is very possible, for at last he did not trust in any
human creature, and had little reason to, God knows. And he always had
a secret way in everything. Just think; we believed that Christel had
floated to land, as naked and destitute as a fish flung up by the tide,
without the least possibility of discovering the name of the ship in
which she was wrecked, much less her own. And what does she find in the
great cupboard, opposite the door, you know, but a bundle of papers in
a tin case, which evidently belonged to the same ship; these papers
were the captain's, and his name is written in them, with the name of
the ship, and how he was married, and that his young wife had given
birth to a child at sea; and there was a slip of paper besides, saying
that the ship could not now be saved, and that it was impossible to
save their lives, so he would fasten the child and the papers, which he
had put in a tin case, to a piece of cork, and trust them to the sea
and to God's mercy. So there is no doubt that my Christel is this child
of the Dutch captain, whose name was Tromp--Peter Tromp, and his ship
_The Prince of Orange_, and he was on his way home from Java. But I am
not the least surprised at it all," Klaus concluded; "I should not be
surprised if I she had turned out to be the daughter of the Emperor of
Morocco----"

"And had come down from the sky in a chariot drawn by twelve peacocks,"
I said.

"No; not even then," replied Klaus, with immense emphasis, after a
moment's reflection.

"And what have you done with the papers?" I inquired, with a smile.

"I have had them translated; nothing else."

"But that is not right," I said. "The papers might possibly lead to the
discovery of a rich uncle, or something of the sort. Such things have
happened before, Klaus."

"That is just what Doctor Snellius says."

"Who says?" I asked in astonishment.

"Doctor Snellius," Klaus repeated. "Your old friend in the prison. He
is now the physician to the factory: did he never write to tell you?"

"No; or else the letter was intercepted, which is very possible. So he
is your doctor, eh?--the doctor of the factory, I mean."

"Well, yes; I call him so, because he is always sent for when anything
happens; but in truth he is, I believe, the doctor of all the poor in
this part of the city."

"He must have a heavy practice, then."

"Heaven knows he has; but he will never grow rich with it, for he never
takes a penny unless they can well spare it, which is not often the
case, and frequently he gives them medicine besides. Ah, he has a noble
soul; though he always seems as if he were going to eat you up, and the
children scream whenever he comes in the door."

"And he is your doctor too, then?"

"Oh yes, of course: that is, we have really only called him in
once--the last time--very much against Christel's will, who insisted
that----but that you will not understand; a married man's cares, you
know; and she was quite right, as it happened----"

"As always, Klaus."

"As always."

"And why do you not make some investigations about those papers?"

Klaus scratched his ear.

"Well, I don't know," he said. "We feel somehow--we are living so
happily now, and I always think things can not be better; more likely
worse. If she really had a rich aunt--we always suppose it is an
aunt--and she should leave her property to Christel, what in the world
should we do with all the money? I can't think, for my part."

"Suppose, for example, you lent it to me: I should know what to do with
it."

"Yes, that is true," cried Klaus, "I never thought of that. That would
be something for you, sure enough. To-morrow morning I will advertise
in all the papers: I'll bring the aunt if she lives a hundred thousand
miles off."

"But suppose it is an uncle?"

"No, no, it is an aunt," said Klaus, with an air of assurance.

"So be it!" said I, arising. "And now let us take a little walk. I must
take a look at my new home."

There is probably no time in the twenty-four hours better fitted to
impress a provincial with the greatness of a large city than the
twilight of a gloomy autumn evening. In men of any liveliness of
imagination the reality usually falls short of the fancy, but in an
hour like this the reality and the fancy--what we perceive and what we
imagine--blend indistinguishably together, and the barriers of the
actual world seem broken down.

Such an evening was it when I strolled with Klaus through the streets
of the city, which seemed enormous and gigantic in my eyes. Even now I
can sometimes in the evening, and for a moment, behold it in the same
light and with the same feelings as then. Coming from a region
inhabited by workmen, we crossed in our walk one of the most brilliant
quarters to reach the city proper, and returned through large squares,
surrounded by magnificent palaces, to our own gloomy region again. And
everywhere was the throng of hurrying crowds on the narrow sidewalks,
and the rattle and thunder of vehicles, and the endless rows of lamps
up and down the interminable streets, and the blaze of light from the
shops illuminating the streets so that the figures of men, wagons and
horses were strangely reflected from the wet pavement. Then the
imposing masses of tall buildings, rising above one another like
mountains; the sight here of a bronze equestrian statue upon a
pedestal, high as a house, riding aloft through the night, and then of
a giant figure pointing down at us with a drawn sword; wide bridges
with balustrades peopled with white marble forms, and under whose
arches rolled a black flood upon which quivered the reflections of a
thousand lights; a glance into the shops where to uninitiated eyes the
treasures of Arabia and the Indies seemed heaped up by fairy hands;
dark yards, where, late as it was, mighty casks and chests were being
piled by leather-aproned men--I walked, and stopped to gaze, and went
on, and stopped again, staring, astonished, but not confounded, and
altogether strangely happy. Was this the sea of ever-rolling life,
engulfing itself and ever producing itself anew, towards which my
teacher's prophecy had directed me--the sea whose mighty billows, if he
had foreseen truly, where to be my home? Yes: this it was: this it must
be. I felt it in the courageous beatings of my heart, in the power with
which I clove this surge of men, in the delight with which I listened
to the roar of this surf.



                              PART THIRD.



                               CHAPTER I.


In the machine-works of the commerzienrath a great boiler was being
riveted. Three sooty workmen, with shirt-sleeves rolled above the
elbows, and hammers in their strong hands, were waiting for the red-hot
bolt which a fourth was bringing in the jaws of a pair of pincers from
an adjacent forge. The bolt vanished into the boiler, and appeared in a
few seconds through the rivet-hole; the cyclops grasped their hammers
firmly, and, striking in measured cadence, finished the rivet-head.
This hammering produced a tremendous noise.

And if any one had told a spectator, uninitiated to the craft, that in
the hollow of the boiler upon which the heavy hammers fell with such
deafening clangor, there lay a man upon his back who received the rivet
in a pair of pincers, and with these exerted all his strength in
resistance, while the hammers were ringing on the rivet-head, the
uninitiated spectator would scarce have believed it, and he could not
fail to consider the man in the hollow of the boiler as one of the most
miserable and most to be pitied of mortals.

The riveting was finished, the hammers at rest; the man with the
pincers crawled out of the belly of the monster. I need scarcely tell
the reader who this man with the pincers was. Nor am I ashamed thus to
appear before him, for he has very likely seen me in similar costume,
though it is true that at this moment I present a rather frightful
appearance. The lower part of my face, my neck and breast, are covered
with blood, which during the last hour has been running from my nose
and mouth. But the three with the hammers only laugh; and one, the
foreman, says:

"Next time remember to keep your mouth open, comrade, no roast pigeons
will fly into it."

Rather a poor joke, it must be owned; but the rest laugh, and I laugh
too: for as the prudent proverb advises us to "howl with the wolves,"
so I have rarely been able to refrain from joining in any laughter,
even when, as at present, it was at my own expense.

But despite the ardent zeal with which I entered into my new calling, I
was not sorry that this work inside the boiler was but a temporary
task, for which the foreman of my shop had lent me because another shop
happened to be shorthanded, very unwillingly, and only at the order of
the foreman of the works. To say that he did it very unwillingly sounds
like a brag from one who like myself had only been a fortnight in the
shop, and whose only work yet had been of the roughest sort, such as
handling the sledge. Nor was it any merit of mine that the heavy sledge
which others handled with difficulty was as light in my hands as an
ordinary fore-hammer, and that my blow could easily be distinguished
among the four or five that followed in regular cadence the foreman's
stroke upon the glowing iron. It was no merit of mine; and yet in
this place, where bodily strength played so important a part, it
counted as a high one, even the highest. My foreman was proud of me;
my fellow-workmen, in the most literal sense, looked up to me with
admiration; and Klaus, whenever my name happened to be mentioned,
showed all his white teeth, then shut his lips tight, held up his
forefinger, and nodded mysteriously. I had strictly forbidden Klaus to
indulge in these mysterious gestures, and Klaus had solemnly promised
to avoid them, but in spite of all it was not his fault if all the two
hundred hands in the establishment did not have the same exalted
opinion of me with which his honest soul was overflowing.

"I declare," said Klaus--whenever I imparted to him some bit of
information from my theoretical knowledge of machinery, or from my
mathematical acquirements--"you know more about these things than any
man in the works, the head-foreman and the engineers not excepted, and
you deserve to be at least Chief of the Technical Bureau."

"You are a simpleton, Klaus," I said.

"But it is true, for all," answered he doggedly.

"No, Klaus, it is not true. In the first place, you far over-estimate
my knowledge, and in the second place, one can be a very good theorist
and at the same time a wretched bungler in practice. But I want to be
both a good theorist and a skilful workman, and I must give many a
stroke of hammer and of file before I get to be that. Just remember,
Klaus, what a time it took you to rise from the common job-workman, who
was glad if he could dress his round pliers decently, to the skilful
machinist who can fit the straps on a connecting-rod as well as the
best--"

"Yes," said Klaus, "but then you and I----"

"Forging is done everywhere at a fire, Klaus, and every piece must be
hammered until it is finished; and so must a good machinist until he is
finished; and there is much to be done before I can say that of myself,
if I ever can."

"I am of a different opinion, then," answered the obstinate Klaus.

"Then be so good as to keep that opinion to yourself," I said, very
earnestly.

I had good reasons for enjoining the honest Klaus to a silence which
was so burdensome to him; for, beside the fact that he really had a
ridiculously exaggerated opinion of me, his imprudence might be of
serious inconvenience to me, and indeed might close against me the way
which I was firmly resolved to tread. I wished to work my way up from
the ranks in the calling to which I had devoted my life, remembering
the saying of my never-to-be-forgotten teacher, that the true artist
must understand the hand-work of his art. So for the present I was what
I desired to be--a hand-worker, a laborer in the roughest work--and
every one took me for just that, which was precisely what I wished.

My past history I had veiled under a simple story, which found ready
belief with the simple fellows around me. I was the son of a seafaring
man in Klaus Pinnow's native town. We had known each other from our
boyhood; I had made up my mind to be a smith like him, and had worked
awhile as an apprentice with his father. But ten years ago I had
gone to sea, and had voyaged about the whole world as sailor, as
ship's-carpenter, and, as ship's-blacksmith, and only returned home a
short time before with the determination of quitting the sea for the
future, and earning an honest living on land, for which purpose I was
now learning the smith's craft regularly, which I had practiced as an
apprentice.

I was seldom under the necessity of corroborating this story by
accounts of my past adventures; and if now and then, when we were off
work, some one more curious than the rest spoke of my travels, I
understood enough of navigation and voyages, and had mixed too much
with captains and mates, and read too many tales of the sea, not to be
able to play the part of Sindbad for half an hour. One of my principal
stories, the scene of which was laid somewhere in the Malay
Archipelago, in which there was plenty of hot work and plenty of
pirates knocked in the head, had procured me in the shop the nickname
of "The Malay," which I bore until--but I must not anticipate.

I was all the more readily believed to be what I gave myself out for,
as I conformed my habits exactly to those of the common workman. I was
dressed neither better nor worse than the rest; I ate my breakfast from
my hand, as did the others; I dined at a cheap cook-shop, in which some
fifty other workmen took their dinners. The only luxury which I allowed
myself out of the little money which I had brought from the prison was
a better lodging than workmen of my class were accustomed to or could
afford; and this deviation from the rule was due as much to necessity
as to any consideration of comfort or taste. I could not, if I wished
to prosecute my theoretical studies, live in a quarter where the
streets were noisy until deep in the night with the rattling of
vehicles, and too often with the uproar of drunken workmen in conflict
with the police, and where, in the overcrowded houses, the ticking,
pulsating, clattering clock of human life never stood still a moment.

For several days, during which I was Klaus's guest, I had looked about
for a suitable lodging; and at last I found one.

Adjoining the factory was a large lot of ground, which was covered in
the most singular way with buildings, some half-finished and others
only commenced. According to the account of the old man who, in a
half-finished porter's lodge, exercised a sort of guardianship over the
place, the whole had been intended as an establishment to compete with
Streber's. But the projector of the scheme had failed, the property was
put up at auction and bought in by a wealthy creditor, who thought the
best thing he could do with it for the present was to leave all things
as they were.

"You see," said the old man, "he hopes that in two or three years the
ground will be worth three times as much as it now is; and perhaps also
that the commerzienrath must of necessity take the thing off his hands
at any price, since it is of the utmost importance to him to keep a
rival from starting up, so to speak, under his very nose. And then the
commerzienrath has to put up new buildings, for they are so crowded
they can hardly work, and where is he to build if not just on these
lots? But he thinks it over, and my employer thinks it over, and now
they have both been thinking it over for these two years. Recently he
has been here again and looked over the place for the twentieth or
fiftieth time, I believe; but it did not seem that he had come to any
determination. Well, it is all one to me; and if you, sir, would like
one of the rooms in the garden-house, your beard may be grown two
inches longer before you have to move out."

The satirical old porter pleased me well, and the garden-house still
better. True it was a mere boast when the man spoke of "one of the
rooms," while in reality it had but one in which a human being could
possibly live, while the others, without doors or windows, seemed
rather to be a caravanserai for homeless cats: an appearance which I
found afterwards to be fully borne out by the facts. The little house,
which was probably originally intended for the residence of the owner
or manager, was planned in a very pleasing Italian style. An easy
flight of stairs led to the rooms referred to, in which, to judge from
the spots of ink on the unscrubbed floors, and several three-legged
drawing-tables, and other similar bits of ruinous furniture, the
architect of the building must have had his office; on the other side
was a balcony. In front of the stairs a grass-plot had been designed,
but at present it was only a plot without the grass; and similarly a
great free-stone basin in the centre lacked the Triton and the water;
and the trellis, which ran up between the windows, as high up as the
projecting eaves, lacked its Venetian ivy. But I cared nothing for
these deficiencies; on the contrary I regarded them as pointing to a
better future, and they harmonized thus with my own frame of mind,
which also looked from a barren present to richer and fairer days to
come. Then this ruinous lodging had the real practical advantage of
suitable cheapness, and also that of securing me the quiet which was so
necessary to my studies; and, to tell the whole, the old man had told
me that the young lady who had accompanied the commerzienrath, and must
have been the old gentleman's daughter, had clapped her hands when she
saw the garden-house, and said it was charming, and she would like to
live in it.

"She'd soon get out of that notion," said the old growler. "She did not
look as if the owl was her house-builder, and Skinflint her cook; but
for one of our--I mean of your--sort, it will suit very well."

"It suits me exactly," I said; "and now, when can I move in?"

"When you please; no one has been before you, so you will not have to
wait for the tenant to move out."

So on the same evening I took possession of my new lodging, with the
assistance of the good Klaus, whose head scarcely stopped shaking the
whole time.

What did I want with such a tumble-down old ruin, where I might be
murdered and not a dog bark? And how could I fancy such furniture: two
worm-eaten high-backed chairs, an arm-chair about a hundred years old,
a table with clumsy twisted legs, and a looking-glass with tarnished
gilt frame? To be sure, I had bought the rubbish cheap enough of a
dealer in second-hand furniture, but for very little more he would have
given me things of a very different sort; but somehow I had always had
a strange sort of taste in those matters, and he remembered that I used
to have a lot of just such useless rubbish in my own room in my
father's house in Uselin.

So the good Klaus grumbled and scolded, and even Christel was seriously
out of humor with me for some days. She had discovered a room in her
own house, on the courtside, up two pair of stairs, beautifully
furnished, and having only the inconvenience that to get to it one had
to go through the kitchen and the landlady's room. And the landlady was
a particularly respectable tailor's widow of eighty-two, with an
excellent unmarried daughter of sixty, who would certainly have taken
the very best care of me.

The honest Klaus and the good Christel! I could not help them; I could
not for their sakes change my nature, to which this striving for
freedom and independence was an absolute necessity. In my garret in my
father's house, in my room at Castle Zehrendorf, even in my prison
cell, I had ever felt too deeply the luxury and poetry of solitude to
be able to dispense with it now that I was a man.

And now again I was alone in my room in the half-finished garden-house,
among the ruins of buildings, large and small, that never would be
completed. In the evening, when I looked up from my books, no sound
reached me but the hollow unceasing rumble of vehicles, like the
distant roll of the sea, or the bark of the shaggy poodle that by day
kept the old man company in the porter's lodge, and in the evening and
all night long traversed the spaces between the ruins and the ruins
themselves, in, as it seemed to me, an interminable hunt after cats.

And when occasionally, to cool my heated head, I stepped out upon the
balcony, all again was deserted, vacant, and dark around, only here and
there the light of a solitary lamp, and sometimes a red pillar of flame
which rose from one of the furnace-chimneys of our works into the night
sky, and reddened the edges of the dark clouds which a sharp November
wind drove before it. Then, when I returned to my room, how cheerful
looked my modest lamp, before which lay open my book with figures and
formulas; how cosily the old carven oak furniture, which had so moved
the spleen of the good Klaus; and above all, with what pleasure I
contemplated the two small antique vases of terracotta upon the
mantel-piece, and the beautiful copy of the Sistine Madonna, which hung
on the wall facing my worktable. The picture and the vases had been
taken from my cell when the new superintendent came, but upon my
release I had demanded them with so fixed a determination that they did
not venture to withhold them: so I had packed them carefully in a box
and placed them in the hands of a person whom I could trust, to be
forwarded to me whenever I should have fixed myself somewhere. This
very day they had arrived, and to-night, for the first time, again I
enjoyed the pleasure of gazing at them.

And while I contemplated these precious relics I reproached myself
earnestly that I had never prevailed upon myself to visit or give any
token of my existence to the dearest friend I had in the world, in the
same city with whom I had now been living a fortnight. It seemed so
entirely contrary to my nature not at once to obey the impulse of my
heart, and that so urgent an impulse--not to hasten without delay to
her with whom I had lived in closest friendship so many years of my
life, and whose heart I was convinced beat as warmly for me as ever. We
had not kept up a very lively correspondence during the year of our
separation, but we had agreed when we parted that we would not write
except upon some especial emergency, as anything like a correspondence
carried on under the eyes of the new superintendent and Herr von
Krossow seemed an impossibility. An emergency of this kind occurred,
when the baseness of this well-matched pair procured me a seven months'
addition to my term of incarceration: I wrote to her, simply
acquainting her with the fact, and she answered with but a word:
"Endure."

No, this was not the cause of my reluctance; and indeed it had but one,
which I was unwilling to admit, even to myself I knew how the dearest,
noblest girl had to work and to care for herself and for those dear to
her. For a year it had been my dearest wish--indeed it often seemed to
me the single aim and object of my life--to attain a position that
would enable me to lift this load from her frail shoulders. And now,
when she perhaps more than ever needed a friend, a supporter, I must
appear before her in a condition in which, even if I needed no
assistance myself, I was utterly unable to afford it to others. That
might have been foreseen; as things were, it was inevitable, and
yet----

But will she, then, will she ever accept my assistance? I interrupted
the course of my thoughts as I paced up and down my room with my hands
behind me, a habit I had caught from my father. Has she not given me a
hundred proofs how jealous she is of her independence? And has she not
given me especially to understand, even at our parting, that if she
should require a support it should not be my arm?

I called to mind the last days that I had spent with Paula and her
family. There were not many of them, for they had urged Frau von Zehren
to make room for her husband's successor with an insistance that was
really indecent. This successor, a major on half-pay, and a special pet
of the pietistic president, had long waited for the place, and, so to
speak, had been standing at the door. The brutality with which he took
possession at once of the superintendent's house, without the least
consideration for the bereaved family, was really unexampled. He had
given the afflicted lady the alternative of removing with her family to
one of the prison cells, which he magnanimously offered to have cleared
out for their occupation, or of taking refuge in one of the wretched
taverns of the town. Frau von Zehren, of course, had not hesitated a
moment as to what was to be done; and thus within three days after the
death of my benefactor all the old familiar faces had vanished from the
house in which he had lived so long. All had gone. Doctor Snellius, in
the very first hour in which he had the questionable honor of being
presented to the new superintendent, spoke his mind to him in full; and
when Doctor Snellius spoke his mind to any one whom he had reason to
despise and abhor, you might rest assured that the individual addressed
would not have the slightest ground to complain of any obscurity in the
doctor's expressions.

Immediately upon his heel followed old Sergeant Süssmilch; and although
the register of the old man's voice lay fully two octaves lower than
the doctor's, yet the melody which both sang must have been the same;
at all events the result in both cases was identical, namely, Major D.
foamed with rage, then stamped with his feet, and ordered the insolent
fellow to be put in the dungeon immediately. Happily, the old man had
been prudent enough to ask for and to obtain his discharge before he
thoroughly eased his heart to his new chief, who therefore, rage as he
might, had no authority over the old man, and on Sergeant Süssmilch
threats were thrown away.

How gladly would I have followed these enticing examples, and spoken my
mind also to the new superintendent. Probably in my whole life I have
never exercised such constraint over myself as in those days, when I
saw this miserable creature occupying the place which that noble man
had left; and in all likelihood I should not have succeeded, and should
have plunged myself into far worse misfortune, had not a voice
perpetually sounded in my ear which was more potent with me than the
impulse of my heart. And this voice said: "You have already endured
much, poor George; bear this also, though it be the hardest of all, and
if you cannot control yourself, call to mind him who loved you as his
own son."

I sat down to my book again and turned the leaves; but this night I
could not fix my attention on even the simplest things. Old well-known
algebraic formulas wore a quite strange appearance, and seemed to form
themselves into the words: If he loved me as his son, and she was the
best beloved of his children, should she and I not also love each
other?

"Are you going to keep your light burning all night?" called the voice
of the old watchman from below. "It is now one o'clock, and I am to
wake you at five, and a nice job I will have of it!"



                              CHAPTER II.


In another shop of our establishment several men had been wounded, more
or less dangerously, by the slipping of a belt. In our shop we had
heard the news of the accident just before dinner, and the men were
standing about the yard inquiring the particulars and talking it over.
I had joined one of the groups, and was listening attentively, when I
saw a little man pushing through the crowd, with his hat in his hand,
and whose great bald skull emerging here and there between these dark
figures resembled the full moon sailing through black clouds. This
skull could only belong to one man. I hastened in pursuit, and overtook
it by the gate at the moment when it was covered with a felt hat, which
had not improved in appearance since I last saw it. I followed the felt
hat a few steps in the street, and then with a stride placed myself
beside its wearer.

"Permit me, doctor," I said.

Doctor Snellius brought his round spectacles to bear on me, and stared
at me with a look of the profoundest astonishment.

"It is no hallucination, doctor," I said; "this is really myself."

"George, mammoth, man, how come you here, and in this questionable
shape?" cried the doctor, holding out both his hands.

"Hush, doctor," I said, "I am here incognito, and must deny myself the
pleasure of embracing you."

"Don't tell me you have run away, and that too after I expressly
forbade you," said the doctor, in a low, anxious tone.

I set his mind at rest on this point.

"Heaven be thanked!" he said; "not forgetting also to thank me, or
rather her. How did you find her?"

"I have not yet seen her, doctor."

"And you have been here two weeks? Shameful! incredible! Where is my
lantern, that I may dash it to pieces, for now I give up forever the
hope of finding a man. Go! I will never see you again."

"When shall I come to see you, doctor?"

"Whenever you will, or can: shall we say this evening? eh? A glass of
grog in the old fashion, half-and-half, eh?"

And over a glass of grog, half-and-half in the old fashion. Doctor
Snellius and I faced each other that very evening, in his more roomy
lodging, and talked of by-gone times, of what we had gone through
together, as two old friends talk who meet for the first time after
long separation.

The doctor gave me a drastic description of his great scene with Major
D., and how Herr von Krossow had come in, and how he had said that it
was true that three made a college, but for the whole world he would
not make a college with those two, and that he begged to take leave of
them at once and forever. I answered, laughing, that I now could
understand the vindictiveness with which I was persecuted by Herr von
Krossow, whom I had never offended.

"You are mistaken, my dear fellow," said the doctor. "The reptile had
other and better reasons for turning his fangs upon you. I can tell you
now that there is no danger of your wringing the miscreant's neck. So
now listen; but mix yourself a glass first--you will not get it down
without a good swig. This it was: he had once before paid his court to
her--to Paula von Zehren; and as he received one mitten, he thought he
might venture to apply for the other. For this purpose he selected as
the fittest time those days of grief and distraction immediately after
her father's death, nor did he forget to remind her that the new
superintendent was his good friend, and the president his cousin, and
that through these two he held the fortunes of Paula and her family, so
to speak, in his hands; for her mother's claim to a pension was, as she
knew herself, open to dispute; but the thing could be managed; and
although he had no property of his own, he had good connections, and by
no means bad prospects, especially under the new king, who was in truth
an anointed of the Lord. What do you think of that?" crowed Doctor
Snellius, springing up and performing a grotesque dance through the
room.

The doctor's statement filled me with astonishment and indignation. I
had had no idea that the sanctimonious deacon had dared to raise his
hypocritical eyes to Paula; and this suggested the thought that I might
probably have been equally dim of sight in another quarter. I sank into
a gloomy silence; but the doctor must have read my thoughts in my face
through his great round spectacles.

"You are thinking that it cost her no great effort to dismiss the
priest when her heart was already in the possession of the knight? I
know we often spoke of it and made each other uneasy, but it was all
nonsense, I assure you, all nonsense. Paula no more thinks of marrying
the young Adonis than an old satyr like me."

The doctor gave me a side-glance at these words, and smiled
sardonically as I involuntarily murmured a heart-felt "Thank heaven!"

"Don't rejoice too soon, though," he went on, and his smile grew ever
more diabolic; "we must not praise the day before the evening, and you
know my doctrine, that with men anything is possible. Arthur is really
a most fascinating youth, and now he has worked himself into the
diplomatic career, he may well die our Minister to London. It is the
same trade, and that they understand--ah! don't they understand it?
especially the old man, who really is a genius in the noble art. From
his tailor, whom he cajoles until the man gives him credit again, up to
the king, whom he without hesitation petitions for a subsidy that will
enable him to pay his debts and push his Arthur in his new career, no
man is safe from him--no man. I warn you button up your pockets when
you meet the gentleman on the street."

"He lives here, then?"

"Of course, he lives here. The soil here is not so soon exhausted, and
a great man like the Herr Steuerrath needs a wide field everywhere. Oh
these brows, these brows of brass!"

"Why do we talk so much of such a crew?" I asked. "Rather tell me
something about _her_. How does she live? How does she get on with her
painting? Has she made great progress? And has she found sale for her
pictures?"

"Made progress? Find sale?" cried the doctor. "Pretty questions,
indeed! I tell you she is in a fair way to make her fortune. They
fairly fight over her pictures."

"Doctor," I said, "I do not think this is a proper subject for
jesting."

The doctor, who had spoken in his shrillest tones, tuned down his voice
a couple of octaves by an energetic "ahem!" and said:

"You are right; but it is no jest--merely a lie. As I see, however,
that I have not made any progress in the art of lying, it is probably
best for me to tell you, or rather show you, the truth. Come with me."

He lighted two candles that stood under the looking-glass, and led me
into an adjoining room, which he had first to unlock.

"I have put them here," he said, pointing to the wall, which was hung
with large and small pictures, "because they are not safe from the boys
anywhere else. Now what do you think of them?"

Taking the candles from the doctor, and letting the light fall upon the
pictures, I saw at once that they were all by Paula's hand. I had too
long watched her studies, and too deeply entered into her way of seeing
and of reproducing what she saw, to be liable to any error.

There were three or four heads, all idealized, the originals of which I
fancied that I recognized; two or three genre-pieces--scenes from the
prison, which I had already seen in the first draught; and finally a
landscape--a great reach of coast with stormy sea--the sketch of which
I remembered perfectly. At this time I understood but little of
painting, and least of all did I know how to justify my opinion when
formed. Now I can say that I really perceived a decisive improvement in
these pictures--an improvement both in the technical execution and in
the freer and broader style of treatment: especially did the heads
strike me as exhibiting remarkable power, and I enthusiastically
expressed my opinion to the doctor in the best words I could find.

"Yes," said he, leaning his head first on one side and then on the
other, and contemplating the pictures with melancholy pride, "you are
right; perfectly right. She is a genius; but of what use is genius when
it has no name? The world is stupid, my friend; incredibly stupid: it
can discover anything grand or beautiful soon enough when the one or
two enlightened heads that a century produces have given their
testimony to it, one after the other; then the thing is an article of
faith that the boys recite from their benches and the sparrows chatter
upon the roofs. But when the gentlemen have to pass judgment upon the
work of an author whose name they have never before heard, or the
picture of an artist who comes before them for the first time, then
they are at the end of their lesson and do not know what to think. How
long would these pictures have travelled from one exhibition to
another, or hung in the dealers' shops, if I had allowed them to hang
there? So they have all travelled into my possession, and not to
America, England, and Russia, as the good Paula believes. But do not
look so seriously at me. My part of Mæcenas did not last long; her last
picture at the Artists' Exposition--you know it, and are in it
yourself--Richard the Lion-heart sick in his tent, visited by an Arab
physician: well, that picture, as I hear, has been bought by the
commerzienrath--your commerzienrath--strange to say, for the man knows
just as much about paintings as I do about making money, and Paula, by
my advice, fixed its price at a considerable sum. You see I am now
superfluous. _Sic tansit gloria!_"

The doctor sighed deeply, and then preceded me with the two candles in
his hands, casting flickering lights upon his broad skull.

We took our seats again behind the glasses of grog. The doctor seemed
disposed to drown the deep melancholy that had possessed him by
doubting the strength of his potations, while I sat in deep meditation.
The fact that the commerzienrath had bought Paula's picture set me to
pondering. I knew of old how absolutely indifferent the man was to
everything connected with art, and that the relationship had in any way
moved him to the purchase was the unlikeliest thing in the world. It
was therefore no very chimerical conclusion that the daughter had more
to do in the affair than the father; and I confess that as I reckoned
up the probabilities of this supposition the blood rushed to my cheeks.
In fact the hypothesis stood or fell on a certain point, which was yet
uncertain. I drew a long breath, took a deep draught from my glass, and
asked:

"Has King Richard still any likeness----"

"To you, my most esteemed friend; to you? Do not vex yourself with any
doubts on that score," answered Doctor Snellius with a promptness that
seemed to indicate that our thoughts had met in the same point. "The
only fault I have to find with it is just this, that Paula seems to
have fancied that she had only to take you as you were, and there was a
king ready made. Have the goodness not to take credit to yourself for
what is merely her poverty of invention."

"I think I have not yet given you any reason to hold me exceptionally
vain," I said.

"No; heaven knows you have not; you deserve rather to descend to
posterity in the character of St. Simon Stylites than as Richard
C[oe]ur de Lion."

"You say that as bitterly as if you were seriously dissatisfied with
me."

"And so I am, my good sir," cried the doctor. "What kind of a crochet
is it to live by the labor of your hands, when you can live by your
head? Do you know, sir, that our departed friend said to me, not long
before his death, that you had the most remarkable talent for
mathematics he had ever known, and that you could at any time take
charge of the highest class in a public school? Do you suppose that
your head grows acuter just in proportion as your hands grow coarser?
You will say, like the tailor to Talleyrand, _il faut vivre_; and a
journeyman blacksmith will make a living easier than a teacher of
mathematics. Well, have you no friends that could help you? Why did you
not come to me at once? Why did you leave it for chance to decide
whether we should meet or not?"

I endeavored to calm his irritation, showing him that I had taken my
present course, not from necessity but conviction; but he would not
yield the point.

"Why did you take the trouble to make a virtue of necessity? Necessity
was your adviser, necessity and your confounded pride to boot. You
would have set out in quite another way, if you had had any capital to
back you."

"But you see I have none, doctor."

"Don't you contradict me, you brainless mammoth! A friend who has
capital that he places at our disposal is a capital of our own. I am
your friend, I have capital, and I place it at your disposal. Who knows
if in this I do not accomplish a work more pleasing to heaven than if I
followed my old father's wishes and employed it in assisting orphan
asylums and other such childish undertakings. You are an orphan; so in
helping you I follow the words if not the intention of that pious man,
and shall be perfectly easy in conscience on that score."

"But I shall not," I replied, laughing.

"Don't laugh, you monster!" cried the doctor. "You don't seem
to comprehend that my proposition is perfectly serious. Take my
money--there are fifty thousand _thalers_, or thereabouts--go into
partnership with the commerzienrath; or better, found a rival
establishment, and hoist him out of his saddle: in a few years you will
be the first manufacturer and machinist of Germany, and----"

While the doctor thus spoke in feverish excitement the blood had rushed
to his head in a really alarming manner. He suddenly checked himself,
and it was not until long after that I learned what it was that
required such an effort to suppress. It may be that my head, in
consequence of my long sitting behind the grog, was by no means
perfectly clear; at all events only thus can I explain the obstinacy
with which I still contradicted the doctor and maintained that my sense
of independence would never allow me to use the capital and assistance
of another as the foundation of my fortune.

"Do you know what you are proclaiming in this?" cried the doctor in his
shrillest tones, and wrathfully smiting the table--"that you will
remain a beggar, a miserable beggarly fellow, as every one has done who
was fool enough to try to drag himself out of the swamp by his own
hair? No, no, my good sir; the art is to let others work for you.
Whoever does not understand this, is and remains a beggar."

"What would our best friend have said if he had heard you talk thus?"

"Has he not in life and death proven the truth of it?" crowed the
pugnacious doctor. "Do you call it living as a reasonable man, to leave
the dearest we have on earth in poverty at our death? And what are the
great results of all his long, self-sacrificing, heroic labor for the
general good? He fancied, this high-priest of humanity, that his
example would suffice to bring about an entire reform of the prison
system. And now an old pedant of a king has but to shut his sleepy
eyes, and the foundation of his edifice gives way; and as soon as he
himself commits the folly of dying, it falls to ruin like a house of
cards. If that be not folly I do not know how loud the bells must
jingle."

"I know somebody whose cap is quite as well furnished," I said, looking
the doctor full in the eyes. "What do you call a man who--as the only
son of a rich old father who loves the son and lets him follow his own
course, even though he does not comprehend it, with the certain
prospect of a considerable inheritance--performs for years the
laborious work of a prison-surgeon for the most trivial pay; who, after
he has come into the possession of this estate, continues to labor as
the physician of the poorest of the poor, and finally, because the
weight of his wealth is too burdensome, throws it into the lap of the
first man he meets, to die the same irreclaimable beggarly fellow that
he has lived?"

"Did I ever pretend to be anything else?" asked my antagonist, not
without some mark of confusion. "Oh yes, as if it were only the
simplest thing in the world to be a child of prudence. To produce that
result requires generations, for shrewdness must be bred in families,
like the long legs of race-horses. Take the commerzienrath, who is a
classic example how shrewdness grows and thrives when it is once
properly grafted on a family stock: the man's grandfather was a
needleman, who kept a little shop by the harbor-gate in S.; my own
grandfather knew him well. He was a disreputable old fellow, who sold
nails and needles in his front shop, and lent money on pawns in the
back room. Then came his son, who was at least a head above his father,
and could read and write, and calculate much better than the old man.
He settled in your town and bought shares of ships, and finally whole
ships, and paved the way for his son, who is the biggest of the lot.
His flourishing period came in Napoleon's time. Napoleon and the
blockade and the smuggling business made a rich man of him. Yes,
smuggling--the same smuggling that cost your friend his life. When the
Herr Commerzienrath was a smuggler, smuggling was a kind of patriotic
work, and the poor devils who risked and lost their lives at it were
martyrs of the good cause. God only knows how many men's lives he has
on his conscience. And when afterwards the people who had got into the
way of the business would not quit it, and indeed could not, or they
would have starved, he was safe enough; he had brought his sheep
out of the rain and could laugh in his sleeve. Then came the time of
army-contracts, and that again was a good time for him; and thus
this leech kept sucking and gorging himself with the blood of his
fellow-creatures. Everything that he undertook succeeded; the
needleman's grandson and broker's son has become a millionaire, has
married a woman of noble birth, has titles, orders--all that the heart
can desire. Look you, there is a child of prudence, whom I recommend to
you as an example."

"That I may lose your and every worthy man's friendship?"

"What good is my friendship to you? My friendship at best is worth but
fifty thousand _thalers_. You are quite right not to put yourself out
of your way for such a trifle. Marry Hermine Streber--then you will
know why you were a beggarly fellow."

"It seems that one falls into this category by having either a great
deal of money or none at all," I said, hiding under a loud laugh my
embarrassment at his brusque suggestion.

"Certainly," said the doctor, still heated. "Extremes meet, and for
this reason I consider your destiny inevitable. The question only is,
how to deal with the old man; with the daughter the business is half
done, or more than half. Your meeting on the steamer was capital; and
now this Richard the Lion-heart in effigy, as long as she has him not
in _propria personæ_----"

"Doctor," I said, rising, "I think it must be time to say good-night."

"As you please," replied the doctor. "You know with such remarkable
exactitude what is good for you that most likely you know this too."

The doctor had also arisen and was now walking up and down the room
making frightful faces.

"Doctor," said I, stepping before him.

"Go!" he cried, passing round me in a curve.

"I am going," I said, and I went.

But I halted at the door and looked back once more at the singular man,
who had thrown himself again into his chair and was watching me angrily
through his round spectacles.

"Doctor, you said to me once that you could not well carry more than
four glasses, and this evening you have drunk six. So I will ascribe
the unfriendly way in which you dismiss me--for what other reason I
cannot imagine--to the fifth and sixth glass; and now good-by."

I left the room without his making any attempt to detain me, and as I
closed the door behind me I heard him burst into a peal of shrill
laughter.

"This comes from a man's not keeping within his measure," I said to
myself, excusing him.

But as I reached the street below, and the frosty night air blew upon
my heated face, I began to perceive that I had not exactly kept within
my own measure. My gait as I traversed the empty, badly-lighted
streets, now swept by a sharp December wind, was less steady than
usual, and strange thoughts passed through my head, and I had curious
fancies, whose origin could only be traced to the glasses I had
emptied. And once I had to laugh aloud, for I imagined I heard the
voice of the short, fat commerzienrath saying quite distinctly: "My
dear son, we must mind what we are about or we shall not get home at
all, and our Hermine will be alarmed."



                              CHAPTER III.


As the next day was Sunday, I had leisure to reflect upon the singular
behavior of the doctor the evening before; but either the affair was in
itself too complicated, or else my memory had suffered from the effects
of my strong potations, and I could arrive at no satisfactory
conclusion. That the strange man loved me much, after his fashion, I
had innumerable proofs, and his anger on the previous evening had been
rather that of an elder brother, who sees that the younger, whom he
loves, is straying from the right way.

But what upon earth had I done amiss, then? It could not be possible
that the doctor could seriously reproach me with my determination to
make my own way in the world. He himself had trusted to his own
resources very early in life, and with the toughest perseverance
carried out his own plans.

Assuredly the fact that I had chosen the lot of a workman could be no
crime in the eyes of a man whose heart beat so warmly for the poor, and
who devoted his whole life to the relief of poverty and misery. The
cause of his wrath must lie elsewhere; and after long pondering I came
around to the point, that the picture of Paula's, upon which I figured
as Richard the Lion-heart, had been the starting-point of our dispute.
Had he taken it amiss that Paula held fast to her model? Did he grudge
me the honor of being painted by her? Was he vexed that this picture
was not in his possession, but in the hands of a man whom he so hated
and despised as the commerzienrath? These were all questions worth
considering. I concluded at last that my supposition must be correct,
and resolved that this very day, before I called on Paula, I would have
a look at the cause of our quarrel.

So about noon I set out for the academy, in the halls of which the
great exhibition of paintings had been open now for some weeks. It was
my first visit to an exhibition of the sort. My knowledge of pictures
up to this time was restricted to a few old discolored saints in the
churches of my native town, the engravings and family portraits in the
superintendent's house, and the pictures which I had seen growing under
Paula's hand. Still, as I had over and over contemplated and studied
these few with never-ceasing delight, and had for years been witness of
the development of a genuine artist nature, I had, perhaps, if no more,
at least no less enthusiasm for beauty than the hundreds that flooded
the exhibition-rooms. I cannot describe the feeling with which I, now
following the throng, and now separated from it, wandered through the
lofty rooms. I had never seen anything like this. I could not have
conceived it possible. Were there then so many men who knew how to
handle pencils and colors that the walls of this labyrinth of rooms
were hung from ceiling to floor with the works of their skill? And was
the world so gloriously rich? Was the sky that bent above the sunny
bays of the South in truth of so marvellous a blue? Did snow-clad
mountains really tower so majestically into the luminous ether? Was the
twilight thus mysterious in the pine-fringed gorges of our own
mountains? Did such infinite multitudes of birds indeed hover over the
enormous rivers of Africa? Did the palaces of Italian cities rise thus
gorgeously above the narrow canals along which black gondolas were
noiselessly gliding? Were there halls in princely mansions whose marble
floors thus clearly reflected the luxurious furniture and the forms of
the guests? Yes; all these things that I here saw depicted really
existed, and much more which my eager fancy added, half in dreaming.
For the more I looked, examined, and admired, the stronger came over me
a sense of having seen all this before; yes, seen so clearly that I
could tell the artist what he had done well, and where he had fallen
far short of the lovely reality. Often I felt really angry with a
stupid painter who had seen so dimly, and so poorly represented what
little he saw. In a word, in the briefest space of time I had become a
finished connoisseur of the noble art of the painter, with the solitary
drawback that I could in no case have told how the artist should go to
work to make his picture better; but perhaps this was a special
qualification for the office of critic.

I had probably wandered thus for an hour through the rooms, when
stepping into one of the last, which was remarkably brightly lighted by
a skylight, I started with sudden and extreme surprise. Looking over
the heads of the crowd that filled the hall I seemed to see myself. And
it was myself, or at least my counterfeit in Paula's picture, the
picture which I had come on purpose to see, and which I looked for so
far in vain. A particularly large group was collected before it,
looking with eager and admiring eyes at Paula's work, while from many
fair lips came the words, "Charming!" "how beautiful!" "what depth of
feeling!" It was a queer sensation to me to see myself thus lying upon
a bed, in a rich robe of fine linen, and scarcely concealed by a light
drapery. The blood suffused my cheeks; I expected every instant to see
the crowd turn from the picture to me to compare the copy with the
original. But it was probably no easy thing to discover in the tall,
healthy young man, in plain citizen's dress, standing back in a window
niche, the original of the lion-hearted king, glorified by legend, in a
picture on public exhibition. At all events no one made the discovery,
and I was left to contemplate the painting at my leisure.

Now I observed for the first time that the picture was of far larger
dimensions than the study which I knew. It was, in fact, a new picture,
which had been completed since I last had seen Paula. So much the more
wonderful, as it seemed to me, was the striking likeness to the
original. Here were my curled reddish locks, my rather broad than high
forehead, my large blue eyes, which found it so difficult to take an
expression of anger. Even the feverish flush which lay upon the sunken
cheeks of the royal Richard might at this moment have been seen upon
those of the man in the window. In other respects the design remained
the same, only the young knight who had the lineaments of Arthur had
perhaps withdrawn a little more into the background, so that the
broad-shouldered yeoman with the features of Sergeant Süssmilch came
better into view. An admirable figure was the Arab physician, _alias_
Doctor Willibrod Snellius, the most singular personage that could be
imagined, in the garb of a dervish, and one whom one could not help
liking, notwithstanding his ugliness, so that the generous confidence
of the king became at once intelligible.

This then was the picture which Paula had painted and Hermine bought.
Was there not here a two-fold reason for a little pride and even
vanity? Must not the original be very firmly implanted in the artist's
heart when she could make from recollection alone so true a likeness?
Must not the original be somewhat interesting to the purchaser, when
she was willing to pay such a price for the copy? These were foolish
thoughts, and I can affirm that they vanished as soon as they arose,
and the next moment I was heartily ashamed of them. Vexed with myself I
aroused myself from my foolish dreaming and turned my gaze once more
upon the picture, in front of which the eager crowd of gazers had
increased.

Among the new spectators I noticed a lady in a rich and becoming
toilette, leaning on the arm of a slender and rather foppishly dressed
gentleman. The lady attracted my attention by her elegant figure and
the vivacious manner in which she gesticulated with her little hand in
its dainty kid glove, and spoke with great animation to her companion,
who was evidently more interested by the spectators than by the picture
itself. As her back was towards me I could only from time to time catch
a glimpse of her face when she glanced over her shoulder at her
companion. But the glimpse that I caught affected me powerfully,
without my being able to explain the cause: a dark eye-brow, a fleeting
glance from the corner of the eye, the contours of a brunette's cheek
and of a rounded chin. Yet I could not turn my gaze from the lady. I
even made one or two attempts to catch sight of her face, but she
always turned it to the other side. The gentleman then seemed to
propose that they should go: they were about leaving the room, when in
the moment that they crossed the threshold the lady turned her head
once more towards the picture, and I came very near uttering an
exclamation of surprise? Was it not Constance?

"Did you see the Bellini?" a young officer near me asked an
acquaintance who approached and accosted him.

"That lady with the gray-silk dress. Cashmere shawl, and jaunty hat? Is
she the Bellini?"

"Yes, indeed. Is she not a charming creature?"

"Superb! And who was the gentleman with her? Baron Sandstrom, of the
Swedish embassy?"

"Do you suppose he would let himself be seen here with the Bellini?
What are you thinking of, baron? It was Lenz, the tenor of the Albert
Theatre."

"The man that brought her on the stage?"

"The same. She has a wonderful talent, they say. Well, we shall see
what there is in it."

"See? You would not go to the Albert Theatre, baron?"

"Why not, when a Bellini is in question?"

"You are a gay fellow, baron."

"I can return the compliment, if it is one."

And the two young men separated, laughing.

I breathed deeply. "Thank heaven!" I murmured. "Thank heaven that it
was an actress and not Constance von Zehren. I would not meet her on
the arm of such a fop and hear a pair of such fellows speak of her
thus."

It did not, in the first moments of my surprise, occur to me that I had
only to follow the lady in order to catch another look at her; and now,
as I hastily traversed the rooms she was no longer to be seen. Again I
breathed deeply, with a sensation of relief, when I had convinced
myself of the inutility of further search, and said to myself: "It is
better that I should not see this Fräulein Bellini again." And while I
said this I felt my heart beat violently, and my eyes still wandered
searching through the crowd. They were strange recollections which the
face, at once known and unknown, of this lady, had awakened within me;
recollections from a time in which the impressions once received
remained forever.

These memories did not leave me until I traversed the long streets of
the city, many of them new to me, on my way to Paula's residence, which
I had the doctor carefully describe to me the previous day. Being
Sunday, the shops and stores were closed, but the streets were still
full of life. It was a clear, cold forenoon in the beginning of
December. A little snow had fallen in the night, just enough to give a
silvery glitter to the roofs and bring into handsome relief the
projections and ornaments of the façades. Numerous pedestrians hastened
along the streets; showy horses in handsome carriages pawed vigorously
upon the frosty pavement, and even the wretched jades in the rickety
_droschkies_ trotted rather better than usual. The sight of this
cheerful life scattered the evil dreams that had tried to master my
soul, I felt myself so young and strong in the midst of a vast,
powerful stream which drove me along but did not overpower me. All was
new, fair, and rich; who could know to what glorious shores the current
would bear me? And even now I saw a fair harbor and a beloved form
beckoning to me, and I hastened my steps until I arrived, out of
breath, at a large, handsome house in one of the most fashionable
suburbs, and, on asking the porter if Frau von Zehren was at home, was
shown up two flights of stairs.

"But the ladies are not at home," said the man.

"No one?"

"One of the young gentlemen may be."

"I will see."

"Can I take any message?"

"No; I wish to see them."

The porter closed his window, not without a sort of suspicious look at
the tall stranger, who did not appear to be a gentleman of fashion, and
I hurried up the two carpeted flights of stairs, and drawing a deep
breath I pulled the bell over which was a brass plate with the name
"Frau von Zehren," and under it "Paula von Zehren."

"Which of the boys shall I see?" I asked myself, and in fancy I saw the
friendly faces of Benno, Kurt, and Oscar, at the door; but a step
approached which could belong to neither of the boys. The door was
opened and the old furrowed brown face of the sergeant looked at me
inquisitively out of its clear blue eyes.

"Good day, sergeant."

The sergeant in his surprise very nearly let fall the bunch of brushes
he had in his hand.

"Thunder and lightning, are we here at last? Won't the _gnädige Frau_
and the young gentlemen be glad!--and the young lady too! Come in!"

And he pulled me in and closed the door behind us, and then led me into
a room in which the furniture greeted me as old acquaintances.

The old man pressed my hands, exclaiming over and over:

"How splendid we are looking! I believe we are bigger than ever. And
how we must have been working to make our hands so hard! We have had
hard times, eh? But we have held up bravely, that is the main thing.
How long since we got out of that cursed hole?"

Thus the sergeant questioned me, and pushed me into an easy-chair; and
he was quite indignant when I told him that I had already been over two
weeks in the city.

"It is not possible!" he cried. "Two weeks without coming to us, and we
have been expecting you every day! It is not possible! It is enough to
turn a man into a bear with seven senses!"

"Every one for himself first, old friend," I said. "Suppose I had come
here first of all, and Fräulein Paula had asked what the tall George
was going to do?"

The sergeant scratched his curly gray head. "To be sure, to be sure!"
he said. "Self is the man. With a woman or a girl, of course, it is
quite different; and so one had to bring them away at once that they
might have some one to rely on on the way, and here, upon first moving
in, some one to look after things; for women are women and men are men.
Am I not right?"

"Doubtless, Süssmilch, doubtless. So you have been here, of course,
ever since?"

"Of course," said the old man, who had taken a seat opposite to me, but
sat upon the extreme edge of the chair, as if to show that he knew how
to keep within the bounds himself had fixed. "And apart from other
things, can they ever get on without my head?"

"And without your hands?"

"Not of so much consequence, though they come into play sometimes too,"
the old man replied, arranging the brushes between his fingers, "but
the head" and he thoughtfully shook this interesting and important part
of his person.

"I have just seen it at the exhibition," I said, a light suddenly
flashing upon me in regard to the part the old man's head really played
in the family arrangements.

"Does pretty well, don't it?" said the sergeant; "but the monk is
better still."

"Who?"

"The monk. To be sure nobody knows what we are painting. But you must
see it."

The old man sprang up with youthful alacrity and led me into a large
and high apartment adjoining, which was Paula's studio. Sketches and
designs of all kinds were hanging and leaning upon the walls, with
heads, arms, and legs in plaster, a couple of sets of ancient armor, a
lay figure draped with a long white mantle, and near the window, which
reached to the ceiling, an easel with a picture from which the sergeant
removed the covering.

"Here's the place to stand," he said. "Is not that splendid?"

"Splendid indeed!" I exclaimed.

"Was I not right that my head is quite another thing here?" said the
old man, pointing proudly to the work. The scene was from _Nathan the
Wise_, and represented the monk about to sound the intentions of the
templar. Both figures stood out clear and plastic, with such animation
in their looks that one might almost catch the words from their lips;
the grand simplicity in the good weather-beaten face of the pious
brother who had once been a squire, and had many a valiant lord and
accomplished many a hard service, none of which had ever been so hard
to him as this commission of the patriarch. On the other side the
templar, young and slender, his head thrown defiantly back, his lips
compressed with an expression of discontent, and his blue eyes bent
upon the poor monk. In the middle distance a portion of Nathan's house,
and the palms that surround the Holy Tomb; behind these the domes and
slender minarets of Jerusalem, with the haughty crescent sharply
defined against the southern sky, where the eye lost itself with
delight in the immeasurable distance.

"The young gentleman has something from us; here, for instance, and
here," said the sergeant, pointing with his finger at the eyes and
mouth of the templar, and then looking again at me; "but I said at once
that it is not so good as King Richard; by far not so good," and the
old man shook his head gravely.

"But the Fräulein cannot paint me always," I said; "that would at last
become too monotonous. With you it is different: such a head as yours
is not to be met with again."

"Yes," said the sergeant. "It is curious: one never believed it; in
fact one hardly knew he had a head; but that's the way they all talk
that come here, and they want me in all their studios; and Fräulein
Paula did lend me once or twice, but in the other pictures one looks
like a bear with seven senses, and don't know himself again."

"And how is she?" I asked.

"Oh, well enough, if we did not have to work so much; but from morning,
as soon as it is light enough, until evening when it is too dark to
tell one color from another, working here in the studio, or copying in
the museum--no bear could stand it, let alone such a good young lady
who has not yet got over her father's death, and secretly weeps for it
every day. It is a real pity."

The old man turned away, laid the brushes in the box, and passed the
back of his hand quickly over his eyes.

I stood with folded arms before the picture, which no longer pleased me
when I thought that she worked on it unresting from morning till night,
while grief for the loss of her beloved father still dimmed her eyes.
It would be a great thing to have fifty thousand _thalers_ and be able
to say: "You shall not have so hard a life of it; you shall not lose
your beautiful eyes like your poor mother."

"How is Frau von Zehren?" I asked.

"Well enough in health," answered the sergeant, moving back the easel;
"but she has scarcely a glimpse of light; and the doctor, who ought to
know best, told her, when she asked him, that there was no hope that
she would ever see again."

"And Benno and the others?"

A bright gleam passed over the old man's brown face,

"Ah," said he, "there we have our pleasure, and with each one more than
the other, Benno has been a student now for a month, and Kurt will soon
enter. Yes, we are happy in these. And our youngster too! He is going
to be a painter, and has begun of course upon my head, and not done so
badly for his fifteen years. Look for yourself, if it is not----"

At this moment there was a ring at the door. The old man stepped to the
window and looked out.

"I thought it was they. You see we all went out walking, because the
day is so fine; but it is too soon yet for them to be back; it must be
some one else; I will see;" and the old man put back the drawing-board
on which Oscar had sketched his first head from the life, and left me
alone in the studio.

I heard a voice in the passage which I thought I recognized as Paula's,
and then the door opened, and Paula entered.

At first she did not observe me, and I saw at a glance that the
sergeant had said nothing of my arrival. Advancing quickly she looked
eagerly at the covered picture on the easel. The fresh air of the
winter day had reddened her cheeks, her lips were slightly parted. I
had never seen her so fair, nor could I have believed it possible.
Suddenly she perceived me; she stopped, gazed at me with fixed eyes and
a frightened look. "Paula," I said, hastily coming forward, "dear
Paula, it is really I."

"Dear George!"

She stood before me, and I took both her hands, while she looked at me,
smiling and blushing.

"Thank heaven, George, that you are here at last. I have had no quiet
hour since I knew that you were free again, and on the way here: I
could not imagine where you were staying; I even feared something had
happened to you. What have you been doing, and what adventures have you
had, you bad boy? I know of one already, and that from the fairest
mouth in the world."

Paula had seated herself upon a low chair near the picture, and looked
up to me with smiling eyes.

"You need not be so confused," she said, mischievously.

"With a sister, you know, it makes no matter. I am in the exclusive
possession of all Benno's tender secrets, and lately Kurt has honored
me with his confidence. He is smitten with the twelve-year-old daughter
of the geheimrath who has recently moved into the rooms below, and vows
that Raphael never painted such a head. Why should I not be your
confidante also, especially since you are my eldest brother--or are you
not?"

I was surprised to hear Paula, who usually weighed every word,
chattering after this fashion. A great change must have taken place in
her since we had parted. It was no longer the Paula who in the shade of
the high prison walls had developed under my eyes from a child to a
maiden, and whom I thought I knew as I knew myself. What had loosened
her tongue in this way? And whence had she the free carriage which I so
much admired in her, as she now sat in a graceful posture in the low
chair, while a beam of sunlight touched her head which seemed
surrounded with an aureola?

"But you don't answer me," she resumed; "and really you have no cause
to be ashamed of what you have done. Hermine says that without you the
boat would have been lost, and probably the ship also. You may judge
how proud I was when I heard it. And what do you think was my first
thought?--that my father could have heard it too."

Paula's large eyes filled with tears, but she quickly suppressed her
emotion and said:

"Yes, I was proud of you, and happy in the thought that you should
commence life with such a noble deed, a deed worthy of yourself. And
now you must tell me what you have been doing all this time, and you
must expect to pay the penalty if I am not entirely satisfied with you.
Sit here in this chair. We have a quarter of an hour yet before my
mother and the boys come back. An idea about the picture there had come
into my mind, but it is better so."

I gave the dear girl an exact account of all that had happened to me
since my discharge. She listened with the closest attention, and only
once smiled when I took pains to prove that I should have entered the
machine-works in any event, and that the fact that the commerzienrath
was my employer was far from agreeable to me.

"But neither the commerzienrath nor Hermine know anything about it."

"No," I answered; "and that is one comfort."

"Which will not last long, for they will soon learn it."

"From whom will they learn it?"

"From me, for one. Hermine has adjured me by sun, moon, and stars, to
give her notice of the runaway as soon as he is found; and the tears
were standing in her beautiful eyes, and Fräulein Duff laid her hand
upon her shoulder and said, 'Seek faithfully, and thou wilt find!' I
can assure you, George, it was a moving scene."

Paula smiled, but so kindly that her banter, if she was bantering me,
did not wound me. On the contrary I was thankful to her, very thankful.
I had considered over and over how I should tell her of my strange
meeting with Hermine without embarrassment, and now under her kindly
hands all was smooth and straight, which my clumsy fingers would have
hopelessly entangled. I was grateful to her--very grateful.

And now Paula told me of Hermine, and how amiable and good she had been
to her, and had spent the three days she had stayed in Berlin almost
exclusively in her company, and had at once fallen in love with the
picture at the exhibition--here Paula smiled again very slightly--and
could not reconcile herself to leaving it, after she had bought it, for
a whole month at the exhibition. She further related how the notice
which _Richard the Lion-heart_ had excited had already brought her new
commissions, and that her _Monk and Templar_ was already sold for a
handsome sum to a Jewish banker; and how her studio had since been
visited by very distinguished persons, indeed more frequently than was
agreeable, and she had had to lock up her portfolios of sketches
because they began unaccountably to disappear.

"You can judge," she went on, "how inexpressibly happy all this makes
me. Not that I think myself entitled to be proud--I think that I well
know my defects and how great they are--but it is a sweet consolation
to me to be at ease about the future of my mother and brothers, and
that the boys can now go boldly forward in the paths they have chosen,
without being compelled anxiously to consider every step--all the boys,
from the youngest to the oldest, is it not so, George?--from the
youngest to the oldest."

She looked full into my eyes, and I very well understood what she
meant.

"I do not anxiously consider every step, Paula," I said. "I know that I
am in the right path; why should I then be anxious?"

"I have boundless confidence in you," replied Paula; "both in your
clear-sightedness and your energy. I know that you will make your way;
but one can make his way with greater or with less labor, and in longer
or in shorter time; and your sister desires that her brother, who has
been so cruelly cheated of so many years of his life, may lose no
moment, and may encounter no obstacle which his sister can remove from
his path."

"I thank you, Paula," I said; "from the whole depth of my soul I thank
you; but you will not be angry with me for trusting that the hour may
never come when you will have to work for me; for that I may ever be
able to care for you and yours--this, my clearest hope and most
cherished desire, I see that I must now renounce."

"How can you speak so?" said Paula, gently shaking her beautiful head.
"True, I deserve it for my own wilfulness. You must consider me a
foolish girl who allows herself to be dazzled by the false glitter of
success. But believe me, it is not so. I know very well that I may be
let fall just as quickly as I have been lifted, far above my desert.
And then I may fall sick, or my invention may fail me: I cannot go on
forever painting you and old Süssmilch; and a girl has so little
opportunity to make well-grounded studies, and to extend the narrow
circle of her experience. And then what would become of the boys, of
me, of all of us, if we had not our eldest to look to?"

"You are jesting with me now, Paula."

"Indeed I am not," she said, earnestly. "I have only too often felt how
my powers are no longer sufficient for my brothers, and that young men
need to be guided by a man, and not by a woman, who does not know where
the limit lies to which a youth may go, nay, must go, if he is to
become anything. Good friend as the doctor is, I cannot rely on him in
this point, for he is an eccentric, and an eccentric is no fitting
model for a young man. For this reason I have been all the time wishing
for you. You know the boys so well, and they are so fond of you. I know
no one to whom I would so willingly intrust them."

"But, Paula, a workman in a machine-shop, a mere common journeyman
blacksmith, is no pattern for students and young artists."

"You will not--yes, you will always be a workman, but not always a
journeyman: you will become a master, a great master in your craft. And
the day is no longer distant; at least it is much nearer than you
think. You do not know your own worth."

Paula said this with a slightly elevated voice, and with flashing eyes.
I was so in the habit of giving full confidence to her words, and it
had so prophetic a sound, that I did not venture to express the slight
doubt that arose in my mind as to its fulfilment.

At this moment came a ring at the bell. "It is my mother and the boys,"
Paula said hurriedly and softly.

"They do not know that you have been two weeks at liberty; my mother
could not comprehend how you could let so long a time elapse without
coming to see us, after you had once reached the city. You must not let
her know that it has been so long."

At this they came rushing in at the door: Oscar, my favorite, Kurt, my
second favorite, and Benno, who had always been my third favorite, who
came with his mother on his arm; and there was rejoicing, and shaking
hands, and kisses, and exultations, and perhaps some tears, though I am
not sure. Of course I must spend the day with them. And in the evening
nothing could keep them from seeing me home, that they might bring
their sister word where and how I was living: and then I went back with
them a piece of the way until they were out of the workmen's quarter,
and in a part of the town which they knew better; and when I returned
it was very late, and I fell asleep at once and had a long dream about
the picture which Paula had painted, and Hermine had bought, and the
fair Bellini, who resembled Constance von Zehren, had so much admired.



                              CHAPTER IV.


To be sure, if I had any fancy at this time for indulging in dreaming,
I had to do it at night, for by day I had no leisure for such vagaries.
By day I was taken possession of by work--hard jealous work, that kept
me busy from the early morning to late at night--now thrusting the
heavy hammer into my hand and giving me a mass of iron to conquer, and
then placing in my fingers the pen with which I covered page after page
with long rows of figures and complicated formulas. Altogether it was a
pleasant time, and even now I think of it with pleasure tempered with
sadness. In our memory the brightest light always lies upon those
periods of our lives in which we have striven forward most eagerly, and
I was now, in all senses, a striver, and there was no day in which I
did not mount at least one round of the steep ladder. Now it was some
bit of technical dexterity that I caught from my fellow-workmen; now a
new formula which I had calculated myself; and at all times the
delightful sensation of rising, of progressing, of increasing powers,
the joyous consciousness that a far heavier burden might lie upon my
shoulders without danger of my sinking under it. It was a happy, a
delightful time; and whenever I think of it, it is as if the perfume of
violets and roses were floating around me, and as if then the days must
all have been days of spring.

And yet it was not spring, but a rough severe winter, in which
the icy sky lay gray and heavy above the snow-piled roofs and the
filthy factory-yards, while the sparrows fluttered about all day,
seeking in vain for food, and at night the famishing crows expressed
their sufferings in incessant cawing; and day by day we saw pale,
hollowed-eyed, ragged figures, in ever-increasing numbers, wandering in
the stormy streets, or crouching at night in the dim light of the lamps
upon the steps of the houses, or where any projecting masonry offered
them a little shelter.

I now walked the streets more frequently, for, notwithstanding the
distance at which my friends lived, no week passed in which I did not
spend at least one evening with them. Then Benno, who was now studying
chemistry and physics, and had occasion to repair some deficiencies in
his mathematics, came twice a week to my room to work with me, and I
then accompanied him back half the way, and sometimes the whole
distance. It had been discussed whether I had not better take another
lodging, nearer to them; but Paula decided that it was best for me to
live where my work was; and one Sunday forenoon she came with her
brothers to pay me a visit, and convince me that I by no means lived
entirely out of her reach, as I had maintained. She pronounced my
inhabiting the lonely ruinous court of the machine-works, which her
hope looked to in the future, perfectly absurd; and the fitting-up of
my room with the old worm-eaten rococo furniture of the previous
century a crackbrained fancy; but she observed it all with the warmest
interest, and did not conceal that she was touched by the sight of the
terra-cotta vases on the mantel-piece, and the copy of the Sistine
Madonna on the walk.

"Stay here," she finally said; "not because this lodging is convenient
for you, and is really original enough; nor because the fitting-up does
honor to your taste, wanting only a set of curtains, which I will make
for you, and a piece of carpet by your writing-table, which I undertake
to provide; for these are trifles. What determines my opinion is the
feeling that you belong here; that this place belongs to you already,
as if like a conqueror you had taken possession of this desolate
province, and planted your standard first of all. The rest will surely
follow. I fancy that I see these heaps of stone already growing up into
stately buildings, the fire leaping from the tall chimneys, and these
vacant courts alive with busy workmen; this house changed to a handsome
villa, and you ruling and directing the whole as master and owner. Stay
here, George; the place will bring you good fortune."

Words like these, from Paula's lips, had for me the force of
irresistible conviction, as the words of a consecrated priestess might
have for her trusting worshippers. Not that I always cheerfully and
willingly acquiesced in her views; it would have been, for example, far
more pleasant to me if Paula had said: "Your lodging is very well
situated for your purposes, it is true; but I would rather have you
nearer to me; I see you now once a week, and I could then see you
twice, or perhaps every day." And then I upbraided myself that I did
not value Paula's desire to advise me always for the best, higher than
all else; but still I could not help wishing that this advice, however
good, had not seemed quite so easy for her to give.

When I was thus brought to reflect upon my relations with Paula it
could not escape even my inexperience that these relations were
different from what they used to be. One circumstance especially proved
this fact. The boys and I had from the first used to each other the
familiar "thou;" but between Paula and myself the formal "you" had
never been laid aside, not even in those trying days after the death of
her father, when we had hand-in-hand to face the storm which had burst
over us all. Even then, when our hearts were moved to their lowest
depths, and our tears were mingled, the brotherly "thou" had never
risen to our lips. And now she used it to me from the very moment of
our meeting. The evening before I would have deemed it impossible; now,
that it was really so, I could scarcely believe it. Did I feel that the
very thing which made our intercourse easy and unrestrained was at the
same time a strong fetter with which Paula bound my hands? Was it with
that intention or, not? I did not know nor hope ever to know.

Of course I did not go about tormenting myself with this enigma.
Guessing riddles was a kind of work in which I had no skill, so for the
most part I enjoyed unalloyed the happiness which the friendship of
this noble-hearted girl, and of her amiable family afforded me. Every
moment spent in their society was precious to me, nor could I anywhere
have found more purifying and ennobling influences.

I do not recall a single instance of the slightest misunderstanding
occurring between the members of this family, or even of one raising
the voice in momentary irritation. In affectionate devotion to their
mother, in chivalrously tender love for their sister, the brothers were
literally one heart and one soul; and if even a shadow of
misunderstanding threatened to fall between them, one word of Paula's,
yes, often a mere glance from her loving eyes, sufficed to banish it.
Now as ever was Paula the good genius of the family, the honored
priestess to whose keeping was committed the sacred flame of the
hearth, the helper, the comforter, the adviser to whom each turned when
he needed aid, consolation or counsel. And with what maidenly grace she
wore this priestly crown! Who that did not know her could have divined
that this delicate creature was not only the moral support of the whole
family, but that this small, slender, diligent hand also provided their
daily bread? Yet this was the fact: indeed it could hardly now be
doubted that she would soon be able to raise her family to a
comparatively brilliant position. Her _Monk and Templar_ had been
purchased by one of the wealthiest bankers at an unusually high price,
and there was already another picture upon her easel which had been
bought at an even higher price before it was begun.

A picture-dealer--not the one who used to buy at a trifling price those
pictures of Paula's which he afterwards sold to Doctor Snellius for
handsome sums, but one of the first in the city, came to Paula and
asked if she could paint a hunting piece. Just at that time there was a
run on hunting-pieces: Prince Philip Francis had brought them into
fashion, and the nobility had run mad about them, so the Jewish bankers
naturally began to take an interest in hares and foxes. Paula answered
that she had not yet painted a picture of this kind, and did not feel
warranted to undertake the commission; but the dealer was so
importunate, and the price he offered so high--"what do you think of
it?" Paula asked me. "Do you think I can do it?"

"How can you doubt it?" I replied. "The landscape and the figures will
give you no trouble, and as for the technical part, I can help you, if
you have any difficulty with it."

"You have told me so many things about your hunter's life with Uncle
Malte," said Paula, "and one scene has especially fixed itself in my
memory. It was in the earlier time of your stay at Zehrendorf, and you
were sitting at breakfast with my uncle on the heath, in the shadow of
a tree which grew on the edge of a hollow; my uncle was enjoying the
repose of the bivouac, when suddenly a hare came in sight on the edge
of the mound. Flinging bottle and glass away, you seized your gun, when
the hare turned out to be a lean old wether grazing on the heath. Would
not that make a picture!"

"You might try it at all events," I said.

She tried it, and the attempt, as I had never doubted, succeeded
capitally. Even one who took no interest in the somewhat humorous
character of the incident must at least have been captivated by the
beauty of the landscape. The autumnal sunlight on the brown heath, to
the left the white dunes between which here and there glistened the
blue sea,--all this was painted with a delicious freshness that one
felt invigorated even by looking at it. And the little scene which
comprised the action of the picture was so clearly rendered that no one
could fail to understand it--the elder hunter, lying in the grassy bank
with his hand under his head, only taking the short pipe from his mouth
to laugh at his companion, who with flashing eyes and in the greatest
excitement has half-risen to his knee, and a few paces off the silly
sheep's face looking over the heath, and saluting his over-hasty friend
with a bleat of insulting confidence;--it was enough to bring a smile
upon the face of the gloomiest hypochondriac. Naturally the elder
hunter gradually assumed the features of the Wild Zehren, and the young
novice day by day grew into a likeness of me.

"I ought not, really, to have introduced you again into one of my
pictures," said Paula, "for two reasons: first, that you may not grow
vain, and secondly that people may not think me barren of all
invention. But in fact I cannot picture the scene to myself without
you, any more than I can without my poor uncle; and I fear if I were to
leave you both out the picture would be a poor one. You must give me
one or two of your Sunday mornings. Of course I know your face well
enough, and could paint it, I think, with any expression; but the
action of a person throwing down a glass with his left hand, and
reaching for his gun with his right, half-raised on his right knee
while the left is still extended, is too complicated for me to paint
without a model."

Thus it came that for several successive Sunday mornings I spent
delightful hours in Paula's studio. The time never seemed long to us. I
had so frequently gone over the ground of Paula's landscape that I
could describe to her every bush, every tuft of grass, every
peculiarity of the surface, and every effect of light upon the sandy
dunes or the bushy heath. And while I was able thus to be really of use
to the dear girl, it was a sweet reward to me to hear from her own lips
that, if the picture turned out a good one, as she almost believed it
would, it was in great measure owing to me. Then we had so many things
to talk about: my progress in my trade, my increasing knowledge of the
steam-engine, were topics of which Paula could never hear enough. Or
else the question was discussed whether Kurt, who was now in his
sixteenth year, ought to remain longer at school, or commence learning
his trade, and if Streber's works were the right place, and Klaus, who
was now a master-workman, the right master for this richly-gifted
pupil. This led us again to speak of Klaus, what a good-natured and
excellent fellow he was, and of Christel, whether any one would respond
to her inquiry in the Dutch newspapers, and if so, whether this some
one would be a Javanese aunt, as Klaus and Christel firmly maintained,
or a Sumatran uncle.

So we were chatting together one morning, Paula at her easel, while I
was pacing backwards and forwards at the farther end of the room, with
my hands behind my back. The winter sun shown so brightly that the
light had to be lessened at the high window near which the easel stood,
while at the others it streamed brilliantly in, in clustering beams in
which the motes were dancing. Frau von Zehren was out walking with her
sons. A Sabbath stillness pervaded the house, and when Paula ceased
speaking I felt like Uhland's shepherd, who "alone upon a wide plain
hears the morning bell, and then all is silent, near and far."

Suddenly the hall-bell rang.

"I had hoped we should not be troubled with any visitors to-day," I
said with some annoyance.

"Eminence must pay its penalty," said Paula, jestingly. "Let us only
hope they will not stay too long."

At this moment the girl opened the door. I stopped my walk, and stood,
stark with amazement, in the background, as I saw two gentlemen enter,
one of whom was Arthur von Zehren, while the other, whom with a polite
bow he had motioned to precede him, awakened in me some faint
recollection which I could not precisely define.

"I have the honor," said Arthur, after apologizing to his cousin, with
that grace of manner that always belonged to him, for not having called
upon her immediately after his return--"I have the honor to present to
you Count Ralow, whose acquaintance I was so fortunate as to make in
London, and who is a great connoisseur, and an equally great admirer of
your talents."

"My friend has not described me quite correctly," said the count,
bowing respectfully to Paula. "I am by no means a great connoisseur;
but he is quite right in calling me a great admirer of your talents. I
have seen your picture at the exhibition, and been charmed with it,
like all the world; and as your cousin was presumptuous enough to offer
to present me to you, I could not forego a piece of such singular good
fortune."

The young man, whose glance now fell for the first time upon the
picture, suddenly started back, but rather with the gesture of one who
is unpleasantly startled than of one who is agreeably surprised. And
well might he be startled, when he suddenly recognized in the hunter by
the willow-tree the Wild Zehren, the man who had only needed an
opportunity to bathe his hands in the blood that flowed in the veins of
Prince Karl of Prora-Wiek.

It had been now eight years since I had seen him, and in my whole life
I had only seen him twice: once in the dim light of an autumn afternoon
as he flew by me at a rapid gallop, and the second time in the dark
forest by the glimmering moonlight; but the slender figure and the
pale, refined face had impressed themselves indelibly upon my memory.

"Beautiful!" said the prince. "Admirable! superb! This sunlight, this
heath--I know all this--know it perfectly. I tell you, Zehren, even to
the minutest details it is nature itself! Is it not?"

Arthur did not answer, for if the confusion of the prince at the first
sight of the picture had surprised him, he entirely lost his presence
of mind when he caught sight of me in the background, where I had been
standing motionless the whole time. I think there were few men whom
Arthur von Zehren would not have preferred to meet in his cousin's
studio just then.

"Is it not so, Zehren?" the prince repeated, rather impatiently.

"Certainly; it is perfectly superb: I said so before," replied Arthur,
evidently in doubt whether it would not be best to overlook me
altogether.

But as his hesitation did not prevent him from casting uneasy glances
at me, which caused the eyes of the prince to turn in the same
direction, the result was that the latter perceived, at the end of the
studio, a tall, broad-shouldered, plainly-dressed young man, with curly
blond beard and hair, whom he had already seen in the character of King
Richard in the picture at the exhibition, and now again saw in the
hunting-piece on the easel. Whom could he suppose that he had before
him but one of those persons who go from studio to studio, now as a
model for Joseph, and now for Pharaoh? And though it is probable that
the prince was by no means addicted to minute observation of models in
artists' studios, at this moment any opportunity of diverting attention
from the unlucky picture was too welcome not to be seized at once.

"Ah! here is our original for King What's-his-name! A splendid fellow,
whom I should like to see in the regiment of my cousin, Count
Schlachtensee; don't you say so, Zehren?"

The unlucky Arthur's part of second-fiddle was a hard one to play
to-day. But it was impossible for him, now that I had been brought
directly into the conversation, to pretend, not to know his old
schoolmate, apart from the fact that Paula would hardly have forgiven
such a piece of insolence; and he perceived, moreover, by my looks that
I was malicious enough to enjoy his confusion. Indeed I fear that I
even indulged in a smile whose significance could not escape him, so he
had no alternative--it was highly exasperating, but he really had no
other--but to turn to me with as pleasant a smile as he could force to
his whitened lips, and while toying with his eyeglass, so as to have no
hand free to offer me, to accost me in an affectedly condescending
tone:

"Ah! see there! are we at last out of the--ahem--again? Congratulate
you--congratulate you with all my heart--upon my honor--ahem!"

The young prince's looks grew by no means brighter during this singular
salutation of his second. The expression of my face, which he now
observed more closely, and Arthur's evident embarrassment, showed that
there was something wrong here; and at this moment he happened to catch
a glance exchanged between Paula and myself, which probably seemed
another mesh in the net which was here being drawn over his princely
head. But now it seemed to Paula high time to interpose and put an end
to this singular scene.

"You would have sooner had the pleasure," she said, turning to Arthur,
"of meeting your old schoolmate, if you had found your way to our house
earlier during the fortnight that you have been here; George has been
in the city three months. This gentleman"--she went on, turning to the
prince--"is my oldest and dearest friend, who stood faithfully by me at
a time of great trial, and who now devotes a few hours of his valuable
time to aid my imperfect invention with his advice. I esteem it an
honor to introduce to you Herr George Hartwig."

At hearing my name the prince changed color and bit his lip, though he
made a great effort to accost the lady's oldest and dearest friend with
a polite phrase. Doubtless he had heard my name too often from
Constance and others, and the associations connected with it were of
too peculiar a character for more amusing and more agreeable
experiences to obliterate it entirely, even from the defective memory
of the young prince. A dim recollection of a tall figure before which
he had once crouched in a dark forest--and then the circumstance that
this man with the broad shoulders and the memorable name stood by the
side of the Wild Zehren in the picture by the hand of Paula von
Zehren,--all this suddenly fitted into one combination. The prince had
to find the meaning of it all, however pleasant it might have been to
have been spared the whole riddle.

Just at this disagreeable moment, that is to say just at the right
time, the Prince of Prora-Wiek remembered what he owed to himself. The
signs of embarrassment vanished from his face and his manner; he looked
calmly at the picture and at me, comparing the copy with the original,
and said a number of pretty things to Paula, which, if not quite well
considered, and possibly not even well meant, sounded as if they were
both. He hastily glanced at the drawings on the walls, and turned over
the sketches in an open portfolio, declared that the light in the
studio was admirable, and the whole arrangement exquisitely original
and poetic, then remembered that he had been summoned to an audience of
the princess, for which he would be too late if he did not take his
leave at once, and went off with his companion.

In half a minute we heard the prince's coupé, which had been standing
at the door, drive off, and we looked at each other and laughed,
laughed with great apparent enjoyment, and then suddenly became grave.

"This is the great annoyance of our calling," said Paula. "Inquisitive
visitors cannot be refused admission; indeed we are expected to be
highly gratified if they come, and then chatter everywhere about our
skill and the subject of our last picture. But, as I said, it is an
annoyance at best; and Arthur might have been more considerate than to
present himself in this fashion after staying away so long. His only
apology is that he meant kindly, and thought he was bringing me a
distinguished and wealthy patron. Certainly, if one may judge by the
exterior, this Count Ralow must be both very distinguished and very
rich."

"The inference is correct this time, at all events," I said; "and if
you want the proof--it was the young Prince Prora."

"Impossible!" said Paula.

"I am sure of it," I replied. "I have seen in the papers that the
prince has lately visited England, where Arthur says he made the
acquaintance of this Count Ralow. But I should have recognized him
without that; and besides, I now remember that the Princes of Prora are
also Counts von Ralow."

"I am glad to hear it," said Paula, "though I should have preferred to
make the acquaintance of the prince under his proper title."

"I consider this incognito a piece of rudeness. Why can he not call
upon you as he does upon the princess? But the real impertinence lies
in his coming here at all. The former lover of Constance had no
business to present himself to Constance's cousin. I felt all this
strongly enough at the time, Paula; but I also felt that your house and
your apartment were not the place to discuss these matters."

"I thank you for your considerateness," said Paula, taking my hand in
hers. "I saw in your eyes that you were placing a restraint upon
yourself about something. Men best prove their respect for women when
they do not suffer any storms of this kind to break loose in their
presence; and as to this matter, I beg of you to dismiss it from your
thoughts. You have suffered far too much from it already; it is time
you had rid yourself of it once for all."

"Yes, if that were only possible," I said; and then I told Paula, what
I had never mentioned to her before, about my meeting at the exhibition
with the beautiful Bellini, who had so striking a resemblance to
Constance. "I have certainly no reason to cherish any love for
Constance," I said; "on the contrary, I can meet her seducer without
the slightest feeling of hatred or revenge; and yet the image of that
beautiful woman follows me everywhere, and it could not be otherwise
had I seen Constance herself. Now why is this?"

"Constance was your first love," Paula answered, "and that makes a
difference with men."

"With men, Paula? Do you mean that with women it is otherwise?"

"I do mean that," she replied. "A woman's first love differs from a
man's, and exceeds it. Exceeds it in proportion as a man is more to a
woman than a woman to a man."

"What kind of new philosophy do you call that?"

"It is no new philosophy: at least it is as old as my thoughts upon
these matters, which is no very great age, it is true."

A faint flush tinged her usually pale cheeks, but it seemed that
altogether she was not displeased that we had fallen upon this theme,
and she continued with some animation:

"A man's life is more full of change, richer in deeds and events, than
a woman's; and for this reason individual impressions, even the
strongest, do not remain so long with them. They have so many new and
more important things to record on the tablet of their life that they
are obliged from time to time to efface the old writing with the sponge
of forgetfulness. With us women it is altogether different: we do not
willingly efface a word which sounds sweetly to our ears, much less a
line, much less a whole page of our poor life. And then even when a man
has an unusually tenacious memory, he can not act and choose as he
will: the stronger and manlier his nature, the more does he act and
choose as he must. And he must choose suitably to his age and
circumstances--to use another phrase, suitably to his development. The
man of twenty-five differs from the youth of nineteen far otherwise
than the woman of twenty-five differs from the girl of nineteen; and
the man of thirty-five again is another man. If the man of twenty-five
or thirty-five should make the same choice as the youth of nineteen--I
mean such a choice as youth makes, romantically unselfish and
inconsiderate--he would commit a folly, in my eyes at least."

"How did you come to be so selfish and practical, Paula?" I inquired,
in laughing astonishment.

"One grows so, I suppose," she said, taking up palette and brushes, and
beginning to work.

"It may be as you say," I said, "when one, as has been your case,
passes through a marked process of development; so that the laws which
you have just laid down as governing us men are very possibly
applicable to yourself. I knew you when you were but fifteen, and you
were then a beginner in your art; now, at two-and-twenty, you are an
artist, and at five-and-twenty you will be a distinguished one. In your
case it is intelligible enough that the Paula of to-day has no longer
those romantic illusions--to the future Paula, alas, I cannot venture
to raise my thoughts."

"You are jesting, and cruelly too," she said; "and your good face has
not the expression that I could wish it to wear at this moment."

"I do not jest at all," I answered emphatically. "I perfectly
understand that your claims upon life must rise higher with every
year--I might say with every picture you produce."

"Are you really speaking in earnest?"

"Perfectly so; do you not wish to become a great artist?"

"Assuredly," she replied; "but is that within a woman's power? How many
out of the hundreds and thousands of inspired girls and women who have
turned to the easel or the desk have become great artists? Upon the
stage they may; but I have often questioned whether the dramatic art be
a true art, or rather a half-art, in which half-talents can reach the
highest eminence. And those who are called actors of genius, what are
they in comparison with men of true genius in art, in literature, in
music? As far beneath them as I am beneath Raphael. And what have I
produced so far? Two or three passable heads; a striking scene or so,
which I took directly from the life; recollections from books; Richard
C[oe]ur de Lion, the Monk--where in these is an original invention, a
single trace of real genius? And what is this picture here? What have I
done towards it? Little more than mix the colors; the rest is all of
your invention. You told me how the sunlight falls in the sandy dunes,
how the wind waves the heads of the heath-flowers; you----"

"But Paula, Paula, you talk as if I were painting your picture, and as
if you could paint no picture without me."

"And I have painted none without you: there you see my miserable
poverty."

I could not see with what expression she pronounced these words, for
she had bent her face down to her easel.



                               CHAPTER V.


Since her success at the exhibition Paula had been overwhelmed with
invitations, and she had accepted one for this day from the banker
Solomon, the purchaser of the _Monk and Templar_. So I was left with
Frau von Zehren and her sons. Yet Paula was present with us all, and
with none more than her poor mother who was bereft of the pleasure of
seeing her daughter's works.

"But all that she has she has from you, mother," said Benno; "and she
knows that herself better than any of us."

"Then she has it from her grandfather," said Frau von Zehren. "He was
really a great artist: what I might have done I cannot say.
Unfortunately it was never granted me to develop the talent that I had;
but how can I say unfortunately? If it is true, as you say, that
Paula's talent is mine, then her success is my success, and thus I
perform the miracle of becoming a great painter with blind eyes."

A gentle smile played about the refined lips of the still beautiful
woman, and as shortly afterwards I retraced my steps homewards through
the dark streets her face continually recurred to my memory. She must
in her youth have been even more beautiful than Paula, though Paula's
beauty had wonderfully increased. How superbly indignation and shame
contended in her features as that coxcomb of a prince strutted about
her studio without the slightest idea of how impertinent he was, and
probably fancying all the time that he was making himself unspeakably
agreeable.

This meeting with the prince who had been my favored rival with
Constance, and with Arthur, whom I had so long believed to be the
favored lover of Paula, gave me much matter for reflection, more indeed
than was advantageous for the progress of my work, to which I had
applied myself on my arrival home. As I recalled the refined and
handsome but sadly worn face of the young prince, his eyes now vacant,
now burning with unnatural fire, the twitchings of his brow and cheeks,
his manner, at once insinuating and supercilious, I felt more and more
indignant that Arthur should have dared to introduce such a man into
Paula's house. What, at best, could be his motive for seeking the
introduction? The gratification of ordinary curiosity. And at worst? I
ground my teeth to think of the horrible possibility. My only
consolation was that my fear that Arthur might have won, or yet win,
Paula's affections, now appeared in all its absurdity. Clearly such a
fop as he could never be dangerous to such a girl as Paula; though fop
as he was, he was wonderfully handsome, the perfect model of an elegant
gentleman in irreproachable kid gloves and varnished boots; a little
vacant, perhaps, about the mouth, adorned with a slight black beard,
and a little hollow under the large dark eyes that had lost all their
brilliancy. It is possible that for certain women this rendered him all
the more dangerous; but what had Paula in common with such?

Then my thoughts wandered from the prince, whom I had seen again so
unexpectedly, to the fair Bellini who so singularly resembled
Constance; and I pushed back my chair, stepped to the window, which
Paula's kindness had furnished with dark curtains, and leaning my
heated brow against the glass looked out, in dreary musing, into
the yard, across which I observed a figure coming through the
freshly-fallen snow, directly to the house. My thoughts involuntarily
recurred to the figure I had once seen stealing by moonlight across the
lawn to Constance's window. Was it the prince? What brought him to me?
The figure came to the stair that led up from the yard, and began to
ascend the steps. I took the lamp from the table to give light to the
visitor, whoever he might be. As I opened the door of my room he was
just entering the house, and the light of my lamp fell brightly on the
face of Arthur von Zehren.

"Thank heaven that I have found you at last, and without breaking my
legs or my neck!" he cried upon seeing me. "How can any man in his
senses live in such a place? But you always were an original. And
really you seem comfortably fixed for a machinist, or whatever it was
that the fellow at the gate called you,"--and Arthur, who had entered
the room as he spoke, threw himself into the arm-chair which I had
pushed near the fireplace, and held his gloved hands over the coals.

I remained standing by the fire, and said: "What procures me the
pleasure of seeing you for the second time today?"

"The pleasure does not seem to be overwhelming, to judge from your
tone; and in fact I should scarcely have come had not the prince--I
mean to say, had not I--what was I going to say? oh, yes--had a bit of
business to settle with you. While you were--you know where--you were
several times so obliging as to help me out of some small difficulties.
I took exact note of it all, for a man who owes as many people as I do
must be particular in these matters to keep his creditors from
swindling him. Of course I had nothing of the sort to fear from you;
but out of mere habit I took a note of it, and this is the amount,
without the interest, which I cannot calculate, and therefore would
rather leave off--a hundred and sixty _thalers_. I happen to be in
funds just now, and it is a pleasure to me to acquit myself of my debt
to you."

And rising from his chair he counted down a pile of treasury-notes on
the table.

"Will you count them over?" he continued; "I have just come from a
dinner where we had famous champagne, and a charming little game
afterwards; and it is quite possible that I may have miscounted them."

He looked at me with a smile that was meant to be sly, and balanced
himself unsteadily on his toes and heels: it was too evident that he
had come from a dinner at which the champagne had not been spared.

"What I was going to say," he went on--"your lamp burns so dim that one
can hardly collect his ideas--going to say, was this: it was with the
very best motive that he sent me here. He is the noblest fellow
living--heart and purse--all genuine gold, as long as he has any. So
you need not have any scruple, old fellow. And I was going to say--oh,
in what relation did you ever stand to the prince? He told me himself
that he was under an obligation to you; but what it can be is a
mysterious enigma to me--a mysterious enigma," he repeated, leaning
back in the arm-chair into which he had thrown himself again, and
warming his feet alternately at the fire.

"You do not seem to be in a condition to solve enigmas," I said.

"Because I have had a little wine, you mean? Oh, that is nothing at
all; on the contrary, but for that I should never have found my way
here, notwithstanding I took the precaution this morning to get your
address from Paula's porter. Was not that a happy idea? But one must
always be ready in matters of that kind when one wishes to be intimate
with men of high rank; and he takes an interest in you, too--a most
astonishing interest."

I had by this time enough of his tipsy talk, and said: "I do not know,
Arthur, if you are in a condition to understand me. If you are, let me
tell you once for all, that I am fortunately in a position not to care
a single farthing whether Prince Prora takes an interest in me or not;
and you yourself, as far as I can see, would be doing yourself a
service by mixing yourself as little as possible in the prince's
concerns, in this direction at least."

"Thank you," said Arthur, "but that I foresaw. You are a lucky fellow;
you need no one, and are sufficient for yourself. Always sober, always
prudent, always clear-headed, and always in funds; while a fellow like
me is forever in some devilish embroilment. But so it always has been
and always will be. I have often wished I had been the son of a carter,
had been beaten and knocked about, and forced to work for my bread,
instead of this glittering misery, in which I starve one day and live
in luxury the next. It is a misery, old fellow, a misery; but the best
thing is that one can blow his brains out whenever he chooses."

I knew this declamation of old. It was the same, with but a slight
alteration of the words, which Arthur used to deliver in our
school-days when he had drunk too much of the bad punch at a boyish
carouse, and got to talking of his unpaid glove bills and his little
dealings with Moses in the Water-street. And it was the same Arthur,
too, the same frivolous, selfish, cold-hearted voluptuary, with the
soft voice and the insinuating manners; and I--I was just the same
good-natured fellow, whom a light word carelessly spoken could move as
if it came direct from the heart. And I had loved him in my young days,
when I wore a linen blouse and he a velvet jacket; we had played so
many merry pranks together, and so often basked in the afternoon
sunshine in field and wood, and in the boat at sea; and things like
these cannot be forgotten--at least I never could forget them.

"Arthur," I said, "_must_ you then always be in trouble and distress?
Could it not be otherwise if you chose? A man like you, with so much
talent, so much tact, such engaging manners----"

"And such a father!" cried Arthur, with a laugh that went to my heart.
"Do you suppose that one can do anything with such a father, who
compromises me every moment--every moment places me in the pillory, or
at least keeps me in perpetual fear that he will do it?"

"I would never speak thus of my father, Arthur," I said.

"I suppose not," he answered. "You never had reason to: if I had had
such a father as yours I would be a different man. But my father! Here
he runs from this man to that, and begs for me a sort of position in
our legation at London, and a few weeks later he goes round to the very
same men and begs for himself; and the result is that they don't want
in the London legation the son of a man whom they have to shut their
door upon at home; and if I had not in London made the acquaintance of
Prince Prora, who most kindly took an interest in me, I should not know
how to pay for my cup of coffee to-morrow morning."

"Arthur," I said, "I believe you need the money more than I do. Suppose
you take it back to the prince, for it comes from the prince, as you
might as well confess--and say to him from me that I neither need it
nor desire it, and request that it may be given to you. As for our
little account, that we can settle when you really are in funds."

"You dear old George!" cried Arthur, springing up and seizing my hand.
"You are the same dear fellow you always were; I intended it for you,
but if you don't need it--" and he hastily clutched up the notes which
he had so carefully counted, and thrust them into his breast pocket.

"Cannot the prince open some definite career to you?" I asked.

"The prince!" he replied. "Bah! you remind me of the game the young
girls used to play when we were children--Emilie Heckepfennig, Elise
Kohl, and whatever their names were--the game of the meal-pile, into
which a ring was stuck, and each one of the girls cut away in turn a
part of the pile, and then more, and then a little more, until down
fell the meal-pile, and the little snub-noses went to rooting in it for
the ring. That is the very image of the man: everyday one charming hand
or another cuts away a portion of the meal-pile that is called Prince
Karl of Prora-Wiek, and before long down the pile will tumble; it leans
over now, I can tell you," and Arthur buttoned up his overcoat, and
drew on again his right glove, which he had pulled off to count the
money.

"I should be sorry to know that, if I were, as you are, a friend of the
young man."

"Friend?" said he, lighting a cigar at the lamp. "Friend? pah! I am as
little his friend as he is mine. He needs me, because--well, he needs
me, and I need him; and whoever first ceases to need the other will
give him a friendly kick; only I imagine I shall need him longer than
he me, or than his lungs will hold out, which I suspect are more than
half gone already."

Arthur had put on his hat, and as he stood before me, and the light
fell upon his handsome, pale, smiling face, I felt a sharp pang of
sorrow for him, which he probably perceived in my looks, for he began
to laugh heartily, and said:

"What a doleful face you are making, as if I were on my way direct to
the gallows, and not to the Albert Theatre to see the fair Bellini who
makes her _début_ to-night. And afterwards a supper at Tavolini's with
her, if we can manage it. You see my life has its bright sides, for
all. Good-by, old raven!"

And he nodded familiarly to me, and lounged out of the door, which he
forgot to close behind him.

I closed it, and put fresh coals on the half-extinguished fire, trimmed
the light, and sat down at my table, and said as I opened my books: "It
is very singular that a young prince should take such an interest in a
poor blacksmith. Bah! I should be a fool to let such people move me
from my path."

But though I strove to be wise, and to banish from my thoughts the
folly of the world, it kept drawing as by some magnetic power my
thoughts away from the dry formulas to bright life, of which I had
caught, as it were, a glimpse in the opening and closing of the door.
Gay enough was the scene; a table covered with half-emptied bottles and
the dainties of a dessert, and around the table a half-dozen jovial
faces ruddy with the wine, and mine among them, glowing with wine and
pleasure brighter than all the rest, since I was so much stronger than
they that I could have drunk them al