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The Styrian Wine Carter by Rudolf Hans Bartsch

TRANSLATED BY BAYARD QUINCY MORGAN, PH.D.
Assistant Professor of German, University of Wisconsin

Aye, any one not familiar with the Styrian-Carinthian highway through the valley of the Drau does not know what one of the good old Austrian imperial highroads in the good old days might undertake. Hop-up-and-down is its behavior, with snake-like humps, like a jumping polecat. Serpentine windings? Don't exist there. Straight as an arrow it heedlessly goes over mountain after mountain, down to the Drau and up again to airy heights, and any motorist who is slightly in a hurry will make a miniature descent into hell of some 250 feet, say beyond Völkermarkt, approaching Lavamünd; the terrified shriek of the ladies is already resounding at the bottom, but their stomachs would still be on top of Völkermarkt Hill, obeying the law of inertia, if they could have passed up through their mouths. And then immediately after, whee! up a fresh “mountain.”

This is the way we treat the good old times nowadays. Was not that road, in its day, built to lengthen life? There you could ponder over your existence, for your little horses, like peripatetic philosophers, pushed onward with bobbing heads, laboriously and slowly, slowly.

Ah, but it is a beautiful road, beautiful! Beautiful enough to tarry on, to die on. The more remote from you, the higher rises, terrace-fashion, the titanic grandeur of the Alps. Clear to the south, the gigantic flight of the Sann Valley Dolomites sweeps on beyond the Obir, and then the ghostly pale Karawanken stare across at you. In the middle foreground the mighty plateaus of the Ferlacher and Eisenkappler Country gradually become quieter, and then comes the shining plain, crisscrossed into sections by groves and gold-gleaming fields, by pale-green marsh-meadows and red-blooming buckwheat. And with an abrupt descent from the road you come to the Drau far below, flowing with deep roar between steep banks thickly set with towering young spears of spruce, and tussling with rocky boulders; yet from the road one could not look down upon its battles there in the cool canyon, so precipitous are its banks, so densely black rises the legion of spruces. Only when a brook storms under the road and down to the Drau can one see its grayish flow and spume through the gap below—the stream that once halted the German language on its yearning flight toward the blue waves of that southern sea.

But we on the road, high up in the sunlight, send a whoop shooting like an arrow across river and plain into the divine vastness of the distance, toward the glimmering, rocky mountains, and salute as exultant children the Father of all that is mightiest in us.

Rarely, rarely nowadays does such a “ya-oo” flit from the wind-swept height across the valley. For the road has grown desolate and no longer carries weight. For hours at a time one may vainly hearken to the rustle of the woods, the deep rumble of the River Drau, without ever detecting the cheerful home-bound rattle of a rustic cart between pine-woods and the angle of a mountain. This proud, lofty road no longer serves a purpose on earth, that once was the soul of the Carinthian land.

Of all histories and human destinies those are the most conducive to meditation which are closely knitted together with a bit of universal fate, and so let me narrate here for the woeful diversion of men the story of Florian Hausbaum, who was once the youth and the song of this road.

Florian Hausbaum was a Styrian of the woods from Mahrenberg, that same superb, defiantly German Mahrenberg below which the Drau plunges over titanic boulders, and over which two churches stand face to face, tower against tower, like locomotives desirous of ramming each other; the old Slovene Church, and the new German-Evangelical Church.

But Florie Hausbaum's youth saw nothing of the future German death-struggle there in the wooded valley of the Drau. Every one was still singing the dear old songs, and Florian sang them best of all. He learned nothing, he never drudged, he merely sang, as forgetful of toil as the cricket of the south. And when it was time to go to work, the good-for-nothing did not care to earn his bread in the cool spruce-grown ravine with its saw-mills; his cheery, worthless soul felt drawn to the open, sunny country which reaches up a good stretch along the Drau westward of Marburg, until Bachern and Possruck bite together their bristly jaws at the river, making the region wild, precipitous, and rugged.

In sunny Marburg the wine flows down all the hills in streams to this very day. But at that time, more than forty years ago, there were three times as many vineyards, extending clear beyond Maria-Rast and Zellnitz, and Florian Hausbaum became a wine-carter and made trips into Carinthia.

And so he drove his nodding horses uphill and downhill through his native village across the border; and in Drauburg, in Lavamünd, in Völkermarkt, and Klagenfurt, all the inn-keepers waited for him as the bringer of joy. And he was the lad for that. He sang all the way along the windblown road, and from all the windows men and maidens nodded to him.

[Illustration: RUDOLF HANS BARTSCH]

Between Völkermarkt and Lavamünd the liverymen had grown rich on the relaying which the excellent humps of the road brought them, and there they also had open purses and open hearts for wine. Hence at the two ends of his route, where the road did its maddest tricks, Florie was best loved and known: if for no other reason, because he had so much time on account of all the “getting his breath,” staying over night, feeding, and changing horses.

He too liked best to dwell in that up-and-down world. For he had a girl in Drauburg, and one in Lavamünd; one at St. Martin and another at Eis close by (dangerous and burdensome sweethearting), one at Lippitzbach, one in Völkermarkt, and a warm terminal station at Klagenfurt. These seven dear yearning creatures were just enough for him, but he was also just enough for them; for he never skipped one of them when he went his rounds.

He was a handsome fellow, of that becoming, jolly, light-blond type of Old Styria which is now beginning to grow rare among the men in the valley of the Drau. His eyes laughed; nothing else in the world laughed so, except his road, when the snow had melted away and the first trip began. Then the little puddles in the road, formed by the melting snow and rippled by the wind, looked at the sky out of a thousand bright blue eyes, and there was a wink and a smirk in them all the way from Drauburg to Klagenfurt.

He loved this road with all the power of his heart, which otherwise, i.e., for the girls, was far too gay. Besides, the girls changed, but the road remained. There was but the one, and it was unique.

His life obeyed the laws which God has given for Nature and wine. In the winter he lay quietly at Marburg, or made little wooden carts. But when February was past and the wine was seasoned, so that the new vintage was at last ready for transport, and when the snow trickled off the roads, then began his regal course, his bridal entry into Carinthia, his jubilant, earliest march of triumph.

He always wore a flower in his hat, and his nags each got one, too. But when in the early days of March he drove along the road, only just freed of snow, he would take a whole supply of violets with him, for in his blessed, sunny land these sometimes bloomed by the end of February in special sunny nooks. God of love, what eyes the forest-villagers along the Drau made at them, and still more the Carinthians, who often do not receive their violets from heaven before May! They scarcely would have primulas, while even Florie's horses were wearing violets on their collars, because he had kept them fresh between his casks.

To all the girls he brought the breath of the Styrian spring with him, and thus Florie Hausbaum fairly came to personify the spring-time over the whole length of the Carinthian Road, and as such he was cheered and loved like a young emperor.

He was happy.

The yellow-hammers perched near the road and sang, the larks rose high, the sun danced in bretzel-shaped figures in the mirroring puddles, the sparrows fought in exuberant glee over what Florie's horses had dropped for them, the relaying liverymen grinned, the inn-keepers stood planted before their doors waiting for him, and shouted Hooray, and beside him shook and gurgled the fragrant, mighty wine-casks.

But far before him longing girl-faces were waiting behind the windows near the long road. Love, love awaited him from one end of the road to the other. Whether it was the jubilee of his boon-companions, the relieved “At last!” of the inn-keepers, or the smothered sigh of the pretty girls—it was all a part of the same joy.

And these girls were so modest. First because they were Carinthians (where you don't always have to marry right away), and then because Florie had always been away all winter, so that nothing but woeful legend and delightful little stories about him were current. So recollection was at work in the yearning girlish hearts, and it made him twice as cheerful, as golden, as laughing, as slender and handsome, as he was.

But in March he would come along singing and with a violet in his hat, and as full of intoxicating power as his casks, and would make them all happy, inn-keepers and girls; there was a quatrain about him which all the lads along the Carinthian Road used to sing when they wanted to tease the love-sick girls. It went this way:

          “A vi'let from the roadside, a kiss for the night:
            The Styrian wine-carter is my delight.”

He knew what he meant to them all; he knew the feeling of happiness that radiated from him, and often when he creaked along the road in his wagon until far into the quiet, hissing night of the Föhn, and the gleam of a lighted window replied to the swaying light of his lantern on the horse-collar, he himself would send that same little ditty out into the yearning, burning spring night with his strong, clear voice, making the sleepless girls that heard it bite their pillows with delight.

Such a night it was that brought him a small misfortune and a great triumph. On that confounded Völkermarkt Hump his cart had got onto the slope, while he was still filled with the echoes of the sweetness for the sake of which he had outstayed his time in Lippitzbach. There he had been received as the outstretched arms of the trees welcome the roaring Föhn, or the waiting spring earth a warm rain. Now as he drove on, happiness was still bounding within him, a sea of dreams, but late, late was the hour. So he drove through the entire night, and at the gray dawn he had reached the height opposite the Völkermarkt Hollow. This time he was carting a delicious wine, which seldom grew in Styria. Farmer Pfriemer in Marburg had become a sworn rival of the Hungarians, and had begun to export a dark red wine, called Vinaria, so that the Carinthians might henceforth get a red wine from Styria, too. The first vintage had turned out sweet and heavy, and now Florian Hausbaum was carting the seasoned beverage up to Völkermarkt in two casks, one of them tremendous, the other of very respectable size.

But while he was dreaming thus, his horses had already turned down the hill. The cart exerted enormous pressure and took the horses off their feet; at this moment the Styrian wine-carter started into wakefulness, and while the wagon was thundering downhill with more and more terrifying speed, he loosened the drag and threw it under the hind wheel, and at this abrupt braking the wagon leaped mightily into the air, like a startled rhinoceros. One of the poles on the side cracked, and the smaller cask toppled over and fell from the cart with a heavy bum-bum-bum-bum. Florie had tried to throw his weight against it, but the cask gave his head a severe slanting blow before dropping full weight into the road.

A stave had sprung, and the pressure made the deep-red fluid gurgle out in a flood. The white dust of the road, became ruddy. The young carter had just enough presence of mind to roll the heavy wine-cask into the grass, and then increasing faintness reeled about him. But with his last thought he clung to his wine. As he sank down he pressed his body against the crack from which the wine was streaming out, the cask leaned heavily against him and crushed him against the ground—and then he knew nothing more.

Many voices wakened him. A girl was crying, an old woman was storming, the inn-keeper called him by name, the heavy scent of new wine hung about him. A crowd of people stood around, and the cart was gone, and the cask resting on him the men pulled away, so that the wine at once leaped forth again. So they turned the damaged spot up. But he still lay there as formerly in his delight he had gone along the road, with his jacket torn open to let the air of spring cool his heart. Only his festive white shirt had become spotted with red from the spilled wine.

The keeper of the Ox Inn at Völkermarkt, however, nearly fell upon him and kissed him. He had already been waiting on the hill-top when he saw the masterless cart, with the one cask, arrive at the bottom of Steil Valley and stand there; for of themselves the horses would not climb the hill. Then he had run for aid, and with him everybody that had been waiting for wine and Florie, and two score people had seen how the faithful Florian, in spite of unconsciousness and pain, had with his own body guarded the wine and prevented its escape.

That was a Styrian wine-carter!

Hausbaum was told the whole story while everything was still reeling about him and head and ribs ached. He had already begun to weep like a child; but when he learned of his heroic deed, his lips drew down only four or five times more; then his mouth changed from a horseshoe into a broad line, and at the end Florie laughed all over his face and so overpoweringly that all joined in.

Now he was carried in triumph to Völkermarkt, found his horses sound and contented, and was extolled for the hero he was. For he had preserved a sacred treasure for Völkermarkt.

This tale ran over half the Carinthian land, and that was the climax and the highest prosperity of Florian Hausbaum's bright life.

Then, however, his fortunes, his renown, and his importance declined all at once. Love and acclamation died away, and his calling with all its joys was crushed with him. And that was because, far below in the plain across the Drau, the railroad was built.

For another year Florie Hausbaum proudly and loftily carted his wine into the Carinthian land. Far below him, beyond the stream, they were working on the long iron serpent; but he did not even look at it.

In the second year he only carted his wine until the early days of summer. But even on his spring trip his heart grew anxious and heavy. The girls were no longer starved with love-pangs as formerly, not at all, for the handsome young engineers, and then the foremen and bosses, were turning things upside down. There had been dances, dances at Carnival time, even in the smallest villages.

And then came the day on which the first locomotive, decked out with flags, branches, ribbons, and flowers, pulled a whole trainful of jubilation from Marburg to Klagenfurt. Thirty young girls from the Styrian wine-centre were on the train in their festal finery, going to dance with the lads of Klagenfurt. All sang and shouted for joy because the new time had come, the time of youth.

But high up on the lonely road the fair-haired carter, who had meanwhile reached the shady side of thirty, held his hat with its fading bouquet before his face. The horses pulled till they trembled, but below them the iron serpent crawled along, overtook them without effort, and was lost to sight far ahead. Only a long, mocking whistle came to them from the distance, from the wooded moors beyond the Drau, wafted to them by wide-ranging breezes. From that day on it was the railroad that carried wine and love, wood and happiness, wares and hope.

But on the heights above Florian Hausbaum was making his last trip. His employer had given him notice. He let his quivering horses rest, and where in other days an outburst of happiness had made him send a halloo from the fairest spot far out across the conquered depths toward the Alps, there he now wept for a whole silly stretch.

Henceforth the road was desolate, at one blow—and no one even drove a cart over it any more. The manure which the farmers had conveyed to their fields was almost the only one of this world's goods which it still carried.

As for Florian Hausbaum, he became a driver for the Ox Inn at Völkermarkt; that was a little consolation, at least; to settle down here on the scene of former triumphs, and ever and again to be able to drive at least a little load of grain or wood over the beloved road. To be sure, he could no longer reach all his girls with these present trips. Nor did they need it, for now there was other supply. From over yonder, from across the Drau, from Prävali, Bleiburg, and Kühnsdorf, and also from Rückersdorf and Grafenstein, and not to mention the provincial capital, from there came the new foes, who wore such handsome red caps when on duty, as resplendent as officers with their black velvet lapels and the gold rosettes and winged wheels. They were the young railroad officials, pupils and assistants, and each one was the Casanova of his district! In those small places there were no other uniforms, and what was the bouquet on Florian's hat worth, compared with those caps with gold braid and rosette! They took away his Lisi, Marianne at St. Martin, and the passionate beauty Resele in the little hamlet of Eis. At Klagenfurt and Völkermarkt they danced all the girls away before his very nose, and it was just the winter, toward which he had looked forward with joyful anticipation, which became the way of the cross for him, where each stopping-place meant the end of a love and loyalty. Florie's best quality, his rarity, was of course gone; from now on he was always on hand, after all, and more than that, he was no longer the bringer of joy, the messenger of the thawing breeze, as of yore.

He defended his position with the girls; but as full-bred Styrian he began quarrels and brawls with his rivals on the railroad, instead of becoming a railroad man himself. So he was locked up in Klagenfurt for a couple of weeks, and for the first time this man, hitherto so open-hearted, so totally without reserve, developed a secret emotional life: hate of the railroad, and love for his deserted highway.

In reality it was love for his fleeting youth, the unquenchable thirst of yearning desire for the past, memory! But because the road had been the scene of his eternally faded greatness, therefore he attached all this love to it.

The years dropped out of sight in gnawing conflicts with his steadily thickening blood, and youth was where the violets of Marburg were, and the songs, and the new wine: with new generations.

For three or four years, indeed, Florie still lived on the echoes of his victorious days, and was still widely and warmly welcomed. But more and more strange faces came into the village, and new generations grew up that had not understood him in his glory of old. Girls of eighteen and twenty began to develop out of the children of that day, and these looked upon carter Hausbaum as a relic “of the time before the railroad came,” as a venerable ancestor.

Rarer and rarer grew those admirers who would pound on the tavern table, saying, “Ah, old Florie, that was a devil of a lad for you!” So he himself began to play the narrator, and fiercely defended his own legend. But the more he had to tell, the older he appeared to the petticoated sex.

At first he was willingly listened to; then he was regarded as played out. Now he no longer talked with the old sorrowful ease, but with passionate bawling and irritation. He boastfully forced his stories upon people, and lost respect all the more.

Only the road, the old road remained his last sweetheart and remained quiet and faithful; both had become despised and useless, but they had clung to each other. Only, when he now drove over it—alas, how that too had changed. Formerly he brought along the new wine with the new spring.

Now he creaked along with the fire-wood for the winter.

His employer had begun a large business in wood; that made Hausbaum's carting period come in the fall. And so his little wagon again groaned over the deserted road, uphill, downhill, without his meeting a human soul. No driver but he was to be seen; he was like the ghost of the old road. The autumn tempest lodged in the canyon of the Drau, rebounded from all sides and whirled up, bidding him pull his old felt hat, on which he had long since given up putting any flowers, far down on his forehead. The land shook in the roaring sweep of a wrath of Doomsday, and his aging bones shivered. It was ending, ending; and where the larks of spring had once whirred about him, there he was now surrounded by the tittering dances of the withered leaves.

There he often saw once more the old houses with the little windows behind which he had had his girls, more of them and prettier ones than any lad in the land. But they had all married out of the houses or moved away, or had stayed on the spot and become care-worn housekeepers and mothers, who did not care to recognize him. The windows stared blindly at him, and no longer knew him for whom they had once opened like little gates of paradise, in passionate nights of spring. They had grown dull and gloomy; God knew who was now squatting behind them. But when from under one of the windows, despite the late October days, there came the breath of asters and everlasting, and some fresh young girl-face gazed in surprise toward the bony bachelor, who looked over inquiringly as with accursed, forlorn eyes, then his old heart would double up like a fist within him and cause him great pain.

It was all over; like fireworks.

And then, then even his very last sweetheart, which he had regarded as inalienable, was snatched from him: the highroad.

The first enemy he had merely followed with horrified eyes: the stinking, dust-whirling rattle-box, which flung the old road behind it as a spendthrift flings the precious money. But they kept coming oftener, the loud-colored power vehicles; faster and faster they became, and harder and harder it was for the carter's old hands to control the madly rearing horses.

In former days he had always walked beside his horses. Now that he had grown old and gray, he was very often glad to perch on the seat and doze there. But just when a short dream had helped him to forget the bitter change in his life, another of those monsters would roar behind him its spiteful, deep “too-oot, too-oot.” Then it behooved him to jump down in a hurry, pull the nags to one side, and speak to the excited creatures words of calm, of love and kindness, while his old heart rose into his throat with fright and hate. But the unknown, insolent machine was already far ahead, and away off on that terrible hill where the carter's horses quivered and stamped, where he had to breathe them nine times and smoked a whole pipe of tobacco before he reached the top, he would see the monster whizzing upward. As with a shout of joy it stormed the ascent, so that it seemed to fly out into the air at the top, before it was engulfed by the next hollow. And mockingly, already at an incredible distance, the “too-oot, too-oot” would come back to him, its bawling tones seeming to ooze away.

The low curs! Their love for this road was like that of the sportsman for the shy pigeons: love to shoot them. They joyously sought out this hundred-hilled stretch, and they exulted when they rolled over these great humps on the second or even the third speed. It was a delight to make a mock of the old road. Landscape? Beauty? It was ahead, never anywhere but ahead, ahead.

Florian Hausbaum had thought he must die of wrath and woe when these road-gobblers appeared, and yet the opposite happened: he had a new lease of life. At last he had something that once more linked him to this earth; and if it was a hatred, it led him back to men! Now they all understood him, now he could once more get first hearing in all the taverns; he could tell of dangers he had escaped, so that half a village would hastily collect to hear him repeat the tale; he might curse and threat without being ridiculed, think up tricks to play, and wage malicious battles, and once again the bar-rooms resounded with the old cry, long silenced, “Hooray, Florie, good for you! A reg'lar devil, that Hausbaum. Eyah, that's the old Styrian wine-carter for you!”

He found assent, approval, confirmation, wherever he went, and his superb white hair silenced all contradiction. Venerable and mighty was the hatred of Florian Hausbaum in all the land, and the eyes of the old carter again began to sparkle, his cheeks to look red, and his heart swelled, making the old man look magnificent. He had something to live for!

On a Sunday in spring he was standing at one end of Völkermarkt, in the midst of the men-folk who had come from church and were now puffing at their holiday pipes in God's delicious, mild air. There came a red motor through the place, quite slowly. A gentle and just citizen was riding in it, who himself hated the brutality of the speed-maniacs, and had accustomed himself to drive through towns with the mildness of a milk-wagon.

Old Hausbaum was still raging at the last “filthy brute,” who had shot through the scattering holiday crowd like a barbarian on his scythed chariot in the battles of old. His pent-up rage was now vented upon these travelers, who came so opportunely into his clutches. He jumped into the path of the machine, the gentleman slowed down still more and tooted his horn. But Florian Hausbaum did not yield his ground. So the vehicle stopped.

And now it burst forth, the great speech of the old wine-carter; the mightiest one in the life of the Styrian, Florian Hausbaum:

“You wind-belchers! You road-stinkers, who sent for you? D' you bring any money into the land? Naw! D' you ever get out even once in Grafenstein, in Völkermarkt, in Lippitzbach? Or at Eis, at Lavamünd, at Drauburg or Hohenmauten or Mahrenberg? Naw! You've come from the city, you tiresome city-dudes and you women with your faces tied up as if you had the tooth-ache, and you never stop till you're in Marburg again, or maybe in Graz, 'cause the country inn-keeper's little bit o' grub ain't good enough for you. But to run down the poor farmer's last goose, run over children, drive horses crazy, torment their drivers, cover the Lord God's grain with dust, and dirty up the hay so 't not a beast'll take a mouthful of it, go bellowing past the church just when the pastor's talking inside about the Kingdom o' Heaven, and not only that, but stink like the devil, that's what you like! You're sent by the devil, you look like the devil, you haven't got any more justice or mercy than he has, and now go and drive to the devil and break your necks, that's my wish for you. There, now you can go on stinking!”

The ladies in the automobile scolded, the farmers round about pressed forward threateningly; but the gentleman driving, a quiet, composed person, merely looked sadly at the gendarme who came hurrying up, and said, “Did you hear all that? Make way for us at least, so that we shall not be torn to pieces.”

He had to crank again. Then he drove away, down into the deep valley and up the hill beyond and away; but Florian Hausbaum stood like Siegfried after the battle with the dragon.

The gendarme said to him with some reproach, “Right you were, Florie. But if the gentleman goes to law, I'll have to testify against you. Then it'll go hard with you; do be sensible in your old age!” And he went.

But all the rest were of the opinion that it was quite impossible to be sensible about this, and Florian was loudly applauded. “That was fine, what you told 'em! Eyah, old Florie. That's right, Styrian folks know how to use their tongues.”

The old carter was quite intoxicated with success and praise. He knew that his renown would go circling out over the whole country-side, and every farmer who had been at church this day would carry home the mighty speech of Florian Hausbaum more accurately than the sermon. He was great as in the olden days, and his heart swelled with pride.

Then came the shriek of a siren from the other end of the village. “Another stinking devil,” they said. “Get out of the road, Florie.”

But the old carter remained standing there with widespread feet, and his white hair blew about wildly in the spring breeze. He knew that signal; it came from a great machine that tore through the country every day, as if the point were to rescue and prevent a misfortune, instead of conjuring up one. And this machine was hated throughout the whole Carinthian land.

“Here I stand,” shouted the old man in a frenzy, “and here I'll stay and not let a single auto out o' the village!”

He had just had a pleasant experience, and thought every machine would stop for him like the last one. But the monster was already at hand, and as for stopping, it could not even if the driver had wished to. An angry shout in the machine, a horrified wail rising from a hundred voices, and with a mighty leap the automobile crashed over the toppled obstacle, jumped, dragged, and tore itself along for ten full paces more, despite brakes and cut-out, and not until then did it come to a stop. The occupants, wealthy young people, leaped out. There lay Florie Hausbaum by the roadside.

The automobile had fatally injured him and hurled him to one side. Now every one ran for aid, and the giddy young people cursed the fact that their machine was so well known; they feared that assistance here would be dangerous. But not a soul said a cross word to them. So they knelt beside the injured white-bearded victim, wiped the blood from his face, and opened his vest,

As the physician was working over him, Florian Hausbaum awoke once more in this life.

He looked about him, and drew breaths of pain and affliction. But the wonderful spring air of that day penetrated even his crushed lungs like a mild wine in a parched throat. Intoxicating was this air, as of yore; weak and peaceful, victorious and beloved he was, as of yore: when he had saved the precious red wine.

Then, in his wandering mind, all his evil days vanished, and all hatred. Age was forgotten, and at this moment, when his soul began to flutter its wings like a new butterfly, all the foregoing was blotted out; there was no longer any suffering, nor dying. Timeless! There was nothing but spring air, lovely, hopeful spring air. And truly, the evil days of old age, of mockery, and of the railroad, of autumn tempests on the road, of a pulse that slackened in the veins—nothing of this could stand its ground. It was all a mere dream.

For he felt as weak and as happy as on the day when he had almost sacrificed his glorious youth for a cask of wine. And look, here were the moist, dark-red spots in the sunlit dust of the road, and the ruby red on his Sunday shirt flamed even more intensely.

So an unexampled happiness reeled through the Styrian wine-carter's mind, because his life's greatest day and his deed of heroism were still upon him. He sobbed in pain and joy, “Leave me and catch the precious wine. It must not run out. People, the sacred wine!”

And with the happiness of intoxication he sank into the roseate dream of eternity.

 
 
 

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