by Berthold Auerbach
ANNIE B. IRISH
HENRY HOLT AND COMPANY
By HENRY HOLT.
The spring has come again to the hills and valleys of our home. The
day awakes, a breeze moves strongly through the forest, as if its task
were to carry away the lingering night; the birds begin to twitter, and
here and there an early lark utters his note. Among the pine-trees,
with their fresh green needles, a whispering and rustling is heard. The
sun has risen above the mountaintop, and shines upon the valley; the
fields and meadows are glittering with dew. From the cherry-trees comes
a stream of fragrance, and the hawthorn hedges that blossomed in the
night are rejoicing in the first sunbeams, which penetrate to the very
heart of each floweret.
Down in the valley, where the logmen's rafts are floating
rapidlydown by the saw-mill, where the water dashes over the wheel,
and the saw sounds shrilla young man with white forehead and sunburnt
cheeks opens a window, looks out, and nods gayly, as if greeting the
awakening day. Presently he appears on the doorstep; he opens his arms
wide, as if to embrace something; he smiles, as though looking at a
happy, loved face. Taking his soldier's cap from his head, and holding
it in his hand, he leaves the house; his step is firm, his bearing
erect, and sincere honesty and candor look from his eyes. He goes
through the meadows toward the forest-crowned hill, not stopping till
he reaches its summit. Pausing there, he looks far into the distance,
where a column of smoke ascends to the cloudless sky.
Good morning, Thoma! Are you still sleeping? Awake! our own day is
here! he said in a deep, manly voice.
And now he joyously bounded down the hill, but soon moderated his
step, and sang a yodel until the birds joined with him, and the echo
repeated the song. Before long he reached the house; by the door stood
his father, scattering bread crumbs to the chickens.
Good morning, father! cried the young man. The father, a tall,
thin man, looked up with surprise, and answered:
What, up already, Anton? Where have you been?
I? where? Everywhere. In heaven, and in this beautiful world below.
O father! it has often seemed to me that I should not live to see this
day; that I should die before it came, or that something else would
happen. But now the day is here. And such a day!
The old man drew the palm of his hand twice, three times, over his
mouth; for he would have liked to say: Your mother was just so, so
faint-hearted, and again so confident; but he kept back the words; he
would not mar his son's happiness; and at last he said:
Yes, yes, so it is; that's what it is to be young. Tell me, Anton,
were you so uneasy in the war, and so?
No, father, that was quite another thing. Father, I'm afraid you
are not entirely satisfied with Thoma.
It's true, I'm not in love with her, as you are.
No, but that's not all.
There's nothing else, but for me she is almost too
Too rich, you mean.
I didn't mean that. No girl is too rich for an honest lad. I only
meant she is too beautiful. Yes, laugh if you choose; but a wife as
beautiful as she, is a troublesome possession. I think, however, it
will come out all right; she certainly seems more like her mother than
like Landolin. To be sure, she has some of his pride, but I hope not
his ungovernable temper. In old stories we read of wicked giants;
Landolin might have been one of them. It's well that we live in other
But, father, you make too much of this; my Thoma
Yes, yes, she has her mother's good disposition. I have been
thinking it over, and I believe that, all told, I have been fifteen
times at Rotterdam. There are no such violent men as Landolin in
Father, perhaps it's because they have no mountain streams in
Holland, only quiet canals.
Well, well! Is there anything that the young people nowadays do not
know all about? However, I did not mean to say anything bad of Thoma.
That you can never do, father. There is one thing about her that
will please you especially; an untruth has never escaped her lips, and
The world doesn't set much store by that now, but it's a great
thing, after all. But enough of this. You are a man that can be master.
I have only said this that your mind might be prepared. Enough now. It
is a glorious day, thank God!
Yes, glorious indeed, replied Anton; but he did not mean the
weather, for to-day was to take place, at the spring fair in the city,
the betrothal of the miller's son, Anton, with Thoma (Thomasia), the
daughter of the farmer and former bailiff, Landolin of Reutershöfen.
High up on the plateau lie Landolin's broad acres. The buildings
stand by themselves, for the farm-houses of the borough are scattered
miles apart over the hill-sides. Only the dwelling-house, with its
shingled roof, faces the road; its various outbuildings lie back of it,
around an open square, and the pastures and fields extend up the steep
hill-side to the beech wood, whose brown buds are glistening with the
It is still early in the morning; no sound is heard in the
farm-yard, save the noisy splashing of the broad rivulet from the
spring. A roof extends far over the water, for in the winter the cattle
are brought there to drink. Near by are heaps of paving stones, with
which a new drain is to be built through the yard.
Gradually the larks began their songs high in the air; the sparrows
on the roof twittered; the cows lowed; the horses rattled their
halters; the doves began cooing; the chickens on their roost and the
pigs in their pens all awoke and gave signs of comfort or discomfort.
The huge watch-dog, whose head lay on the threshold of his kennel,
lazily opened his eyes now and then, and closed them again as though he
would say, What strange sounds; what do they all amount to, compared
with a hearty bark! That's, after all, the most beautiful and sensible
noise in the world, for dogs of my rank never bark without good
The first person who came through the yard was the farmer's stately
wife, well dressed, and still in her prime. It is a well-ordered
household where the master or mistress is the first awake.
The farmer's wife was a quiet woman, such a one as is called a
genuine farmer's wife; not much more than this could be said of her.
She was industrious, and watchful of her interests, and kept others
under strict control. She held her husband in all fitting honor, as a
wife should, but there was never any thought of love, either in her
youth or now. She was the daughter of a farmer in a neighboring
borough, and had married in the same rank, for she had never dreamed of
the possibility of doing otherwise. During the time that Landolin was
bailiff she had worthily done the honors of the house; she had
unbounded confidence in her husband, and when people came with
complaints to her, her usual answer was: Just be patient, my husband
will make everything right. She was entirely frank, what she said she
meant; but she spoke little, for much speaking was not befitting a
farmer's wife; and as for much thinkingfor that there was no need. A
wife must keep the house in order, economize, and be strictly honest,
as the custom isto think is quite unnecessary.
The head-servant, Tobias, came from the stable-door. The two nodded
to one another without a word, and yet each had a deep respect for the
other; for, in his place, the head-servant was equally responsible for
the honor of the household; therefore he ranked next after the farmer,
and before the only son, who, in this family, was indeed too young to
be much thought of.
Tobias had already endured fifteen years in this house, for living
here meant endurance, and during all this time he had never called upon
the farmer's wife for aid against the violence of the master; in his
heart he respected the mistress who never wanted anything for herself,
but who seemed to think herself in the world only that she might be
obedient to her husband. When the farmer drove through the country to
the different gala-day festivals with his beautiful, proud daughter,
his wife thought it only right and a matter of course that she should
be left behind, and she had no longing for the world outside. She had
grown up in a secluded farm-house, where the principal pleasure lay in
being able, while the sun shone on Sundayto sleep in the afternoon.
Mistress, began the head-servant, Tobias, Mistress, may I ask you
Is it true that your daughter?
Will be betrothed to-day.
Praise be to God and thanks! cried the head-servant; God forgive
me, I was afraid the master would not give her to anybody, that he
would think nobody good enough for her! Anton Armbruster is a fine,
honest fellow, and in the war he showed himself a brave man; he will be
the husband to
The farmer's wife interrupted this speech, lest something unpleasant
about Thoma might be added, and said, The betrothal is not to be here
at home, it will take place in the city to-day, at the Sword Inn. I am
to go too, she concluded, pleased that so great an honor should be
done her. She walked more quickly than usual to the house, awakened the
maids, and then mounted the stairs to the large guest chamber. There
stood two high bedsteads, but they held bed-clothing enough for six,
for from this house neither feathers nor linen were ever sold. It was
easy enough to see that when the mistress opened the double doors of
the great, gayly-painted wardrobe. She feasted her eyes on the masses
of linen heaped up there; of which that in the left side of the
wardrobe, tied with blue ribbon, was the outfit long ago prepared for
Thoma. The mother laid her hand on it as if in blessing, and her lips
But now she heard footsteps in the living-room, and went down stairs
There, where the bright morning light streamed through many windows,
and the ever-heated porcelain stove spread a pleasant warmth, the
farmer was walking up and down. He was a broad, stately man; his thick
hair was cut short, and the stubble stood upright, which gave his
immense head a certain bull-dog look. From his smoothly-shaven face
looked forth self-esteem, obstinacy, and contempt of the world. He was
still in his shirt sleeves, but otherwise arrayed in holiday attire;
the single-breasted, collarless, velvet coat alone hung on the nail; he
wore high boots, whose tops fell down in folds, showing the white
stockings below the knee-breeches; and also a gay silk vest, buttoned
close to his throat.
As his wife entered he nodded silently. Following her came their son
Peter, a discontented-looking, full-faced young fellow, and then the
servant-men and maids. After grace was said, they sat down to
breakfast. There was no conversation; no one even spoke of the chair
that remained vacant, that of Thoma. Not until the after-grace had been
said, did the peasant speak to Tobias, telling him to take the fat oxen
to the fair.
He then sat down in the great arm-chair, not far from the stove, and
looked toward the door. Thoma may be permitted to make an exception
to-day. Usually she takes great pride in allowing no one to be before
her at work, early or late.
Suddenly he arose, and stepping to the porch that led to the yard,
called to Tobias to take the prize cow also to the fair. Father,
called a strong girlish voice from the chamber window over the door,
Father, do you mean to sell the prize cow too?
Landolin half-turned his head, and looked toward the window, but
seemed to think a reply unnecessary.
He called to the servant not to forget to stop at the Sword.
The oxen were led out. They moved as though half asleep, then
stopped and looked around, as if bidding farewell to the farm-yard. A
splendid cow followedshe was of Simmenthaler stock, but raised here
on the farm. The cow's eyes glistened as though she were conscious that
she had taken the first prize at the last agricultural fair.
Landolin went down the broad stone steps into the yard, and stood
balancing himself first on one foot, then on the other, surveying with
great satisfaction the animals and the comfortable appointments of his
Good morning, father! called the same strong, girlish voice from
the veranda. I could not sleep till near morning. Father, are you
really intending to sell the prize cow?
You do not know as much as I thought, answered Landolin laughing;
do you think nothing goes to the fair except to be sold? A man
sometimes likes to show what he owns.
You're right, answered the girl, shaking back her long, flowing
yellow hair, you're right.
And the miller was right too. The girl was almost too beautiful. She
now seated herself upon the door-step, and began braiding her hair, and
singing softly to herself; but she often stopped, and gazed dreamily
into the far distance with her great blue eyes. She was thinking of
Anton, down by the mill in the valley.
Arrayed in the velvet coat, on his head his broad hat adorned with a
large silver buckle, and in his hand a stout stick, Landolin came
through the door-way and said:
Thoma, I'm going now; I want you and your mother to follow soon.
He started on, but waited a while at the gate, for the common people
there, who greeted him obsequiously, to pass by; he could not accompany
those who were driving to the fair only a poor little cow or a goat, or
perhaps going empty-handed to make some small purchases. The Galloping
Cooper greeted him as he hastened by. He was a gaunt man, by trade a
cooper, and received this name because he was always in a hurry. The
gamekeeper saluted by touching his hand to his cap. Landolin responded
graciously, for he had appointed the man to his present position when
he was bailiff. Cushion Kate, an old woman with sunburnt face and a red
kerchief tied round her head, who carried a number of gay-colored head
cushions, passed by without greeting; she was angry with Landolin, and
had no other way of expressing it. Not until a wealthy farmer like
himself came up and cried: Come along, Landolin, did Landolin
condescend to nod, and join his equal.
Our story lies in that part of the country where great farms are
still found in the hands of peasants; these descend by inheritance from
one generation to another; and with them certain lines of social
demarcation which exclude from the farmer's circle those who are styled
the common people; even at the inn an unwritten law prescribes that
the farmers should sit at a separate table from the laborers and
The village consists of thirty-two farm-houses, that lie scattered
amidst their broad fields, and of a few small houses collected about
the church, the school-house, and the inn.
Where are your women folks? said Landolin's companion, after they
had walked silently side by side a good distance.
They are coming after us; they are riding, answered Landolin.
The first speaker had indeed heard that something more important
than the sale of cattle was to take place at the fair in the city
to-day; but, as a discreet and self-controlled farmer, who allowed no
one to meddle in his affairs or to trouble him with impertinent
questions, he said no more.
The two walked a long distance, silent and supercilious, for each
felt that here were walking two men who together represented three
hundred acres of field and meadow, and nearly as many more of
forest-land. At length the neighbor, who was the younger, and besides
was Burgomaster, asked,
Have you any old hay left?
No; sold it all.
At a good price?
Yes. You too?
They spoke to each other as unconcernedly as though neither had ever
thought of increasing his acres; but for all that the enchanted
dragonSpeculationhad flown over this peaceful valley, leaving dire
destruction in his track. Each of these men had lost large sums of
money by a recent bank failure, and in American railroad stocks; but
neither was willing to ask the other's sympathy, or even to acknowledge
his own loss; and each thought, I can bear it better than he.
One said to himself, I am younger than he is, and the other, I am
older than he; one, How could the young man be so rash? and the
other, How could the old man have shown so little experience? On only
one point did their thoughts agree; both intended to resist temptation
for the future, and to be contented with the slow and sure profits of
We are a little late, the younger farmer at last said.
Oh, replied Landolin, standing still (he always stood still when
he spoke), what I have to buy will wait for me. I only sent my cattle
that the fair might amount to something, as I hear that a great many
Alsace traders are coming.
The other glanced sideways at Landolin, as though he would have
enjoyed saying, I know you wish the miller and his son to be there
first, and be waiting for you; but I'll not give you the satisfaction
of knowing that I understand your meanness.
Landolin's wagon with the two great horses now overtook them. In it
were seated mother and daughter, in holiday attire. Landolin's
companion bowed quickly many times, and murmured, as he glanced at
Thoma, It is certainly true; she is the most beautiful girl in the
country. Thoma asked if the men did not wish to ride, for there was a
second seat in the Schaarenbank, as they here call the Char-à-banc, which has now taken the place of the old-fashioned coach. The men
declined, and the wagon rolled on.
Mountain and valley must join each other after all. Down by the
brook Anton was walking with his father, and from the hill-side Thoma
was coming with hers. A few weeks only had passed since Anton and Thoma
gave themselves to each other; but when once the verdure of the
spring-time appears, its spread is strong and unceasing.
It came about thus: the snow was lying heavy on the mountains and in
the ravines, on the fields it had begun to melt, when three young men
in soldiers' caps had come one Sunday to Landolin's gate. They greeted
as a comrade the servant Fidelis, who was currying the horses, and also
wore a soldier's cap.
What! said Fidelis, do you dare to invite the master's daughter?
Yes, of course.
I don't believe that she'll consent, or rather that her father
will, but he won't mind having the honor offered him.
Come with us, Fidelis, said Anton, you are one of us.
The other two young men, who were sons of rich farmers like
Landolin, looked astonished, but said nothing.
As you will, answered Fidelis; just wait till I put my Sunday
He accompanied the three to the house, but stopped on the threshold,
and allowed the farmers' sons to approach his master alone. After
welcoming them, Landolin seated himself quickly and asked:
What can I do for you?
The son of the farmer, Titus, called the Mountain-king, who lived on
the other side of the plateau, a tall fellow with broad shoulders and a
boyish face, answered glibly, as though reciting a carefully committed
lesson, that they had come most humbly to invite the maiden Thoma to be
Maid of Honor at the presentation of the flag to the Club.
Who are to be the other maids of honor? asked Landolin.
My sister and the daughter of the District Forester.
Landolin nodded, and then asked on what day the festival was to take
place. Anton, who had not before spoken, answered that the fifteenth of
July had been chosen, as it was the anniversary of the declaration of
war, and fortunately happened to fall on Sunday. He added adroitly,
that they desired to change the day of terror into one of gladness.
Landolin looked up, astonished at Anton's temerity in addressing
him; then fixed his eye on the mountain prince, who, instead of
replying himself, had permitted the miller's son to speak.
You make arrangements far in advance; it's a long time from now to
the middle of July; but never mind. We thank you for the honor, but we
cannot join you, said Landolin, with decision.
All right, we need go only one house farther, quickly answered the
mountain prince, his face reddening. He was about turning away, when
Pardon me; but if I have rightly understood the ex-bailiff, he is
going to leave the decision to his daughter.
The farmer compressed his lips craftily, then said:
Yes, yes; you are right. And mind you, I shall not say a word to
her, and you shall find that she will give you the same answer that I
May I ask why? inquired the mountain prince.
You may ask, answered the peasant, going to the door and calling
to Thoma to bring wine and something to eat. It seemed as if Thoma had
already prepared this, for she came immediately, the young men
following her movements with admiring eyes. She poured the wine, they
touched their glasses, and Anton had begun to repeat his request, when
she interrupted him:
Say no more!
Anton turned pale, and Thoma blushed; their eyes met, and Thoma's
eyelids dropped. In a moment, however, she looked up frankly, and
I have heard all that has been said.
Bravo! that's splendid! cried Anton; pardon me, but I imagine
there are few who would so honestly confess that they had been
I thank you for your praise, but it is nothingthat is, I mean
being honest deserves no praise.
The farmer shrugged his shoulders, and opened his mouth with
delight. He's getting it now, thought he, she pays in good coin.
Turning to her father, Thoma continued:
Father, did you really mean that I should do as I choose?
Certainly! Whatever you say will be right.
Then I say yes; I accept the honor with thanks.
Fidelis, who was standing at the door, bit his lip to keep from
laughing aloud; and an expression of astonishment spread itself over
the faces of the farmer and the three young men. The mountain-prince
and the other farmer's son thanked Thoma and shook hands with her, but
when Anton offered his hand she turned quickly away, and busied herself
with the plates and glasses.
Meanwhile the farmer's wife had entered, unnoticed, and now, whilst
they were enjoying the refreshment, spoke to them all, for she knew
their mothers. Turning to Anton, she expressed her sympathy at his
mother's death, saying that she was a most excellent woman, and that
her happiness must have been great indeed when her only son returned
from the war, safe and with honor.
After the three young men had gone, the farmer's wife said:
Anton's a splendid fellow, he pleases me best of them all.
Do you think so too? the farmer was about to ask his daughter, but
he refrained, and only answered:
He has a tongue like a lawyer's; the only real substantial farmer
is Titus's son and heir.
Thoma left the room without a word, and that which Landolin dreaded
came to pass. From this time Thoma and Anton met often, in public and
alone, in the bright day time and the quiet evening. And when at length
Thoma told her father of her love, he calmly endeavored to show her
that this would be an unequal marriage, and that he had always had
confidence that her pride would not allow her to throw herself away;
as, however, he found that Thoma never wavered in her decision, he was
wise enough to give his consent, thereby securing their gratitude
instead of having to yield without it; for above all else he valued
Thoma's love and respect.
So it came to pass, that to-day was to take place the betrothal of
the haughty Landolin's proud daughter with her honest, but not quite so
well-born lover, Anton.
Mother! said Thoma, during the drive, when father was young he
must have been the handsomest man in the country.
He was, indeed, but wild and unruly, very wild; you will have a
more gentle husband. It will be just the opposite with you to what it
was with us.
Thoma looked up wonderingly; it was unusual for her mother either to
think or speak so much; and her astonishment increased when her mother
If your father had been a soldier like Anton, he too would have
learned to give way to others, and not always think himself the only
person in the world. Heaven forgive me, I was not going to speak of
your father at all, I only meant to tell you that you must now learn to
give up to others; with marriage willfulness must end.
The deference with which Thoma had listened at first, disappeared
now that her mother concluded with advice and censure. She moved her
lips impatiently, but said nothing.
From the valley could be heard the din of the fair; the drums and
trumpets in the show booths, the lowing of the cows and oxen, and the
whinnying of the horses in the broad meadow by the river side.
At the foot of the mountain, where the signpost is, Thoma beckoned
to her a beggar, who sat by the roadside, holding out his handless arm,
and gave him a bright, new mark.
That pleases me, said the mother, as they drove on.
Thoma answered with a voice clear as the morning:
Yes, mother, on this, my day of happiness, I cannot pass the first
beggar I meet without giving him something; and see, she cried,
looking back, see, he is making signs to us; he has just found out how
much he received, and is showing it to the others. If I could only make
the whole world happy, as happy as I am! O mother, it must be terrible!
There sits a poor man appealing with such pitiful glances; men pass by,
one gives nothing, the others give nothing, it is too much trouble to
put their hands into their pockets and open their purses, and the poor
man begs with empty mouth.
The mother nodded with a happy face, and wanted to say: You do not
take after your father in everything, in some things you are like me,
but she suppressed the words. She was still vexed for having so far
forgotten herself as to say anything against her husband.
Good morning, Thoma! Good morning, mother! suddenly sounded in
greeting the clear voice of Anton; he held out his hand and continued:
Come, jump out and walk with me.
No, you ride with us.
I'll walk beside you, replied Anton, and rested his hand upon the
railing of the wagon, as he walked along.
The mother made excuses for having kept him waiting, and said that
the farmer was following on foot.
Upon entering the fair ground, Landolin was immediately greeted by
the farmer Titus, called the Mountain-king, whose estate lay on the
other side of the plateau. Titus offered him a large sum for the prize
cow, which Landolin haughtily refused. He was soon surrounded by a
crowd of farmers, who, partly in earnest, and partly in jest, charged
him with having ruined the fair by exhibiting her, for the other cattle
looked small and poor in comparison. Landolin smiled; he had brought
her merely to gratify his pride, but he was very well pleased to find
that he had been able to arouse the envy of others; and the annoyance
of the Mountain-king especially pleased him, as they had long been
rivals. The other farmers had really no ambition, their thoughts and
efforts were centered on gain. This was the case with the rivals, too,
but in addition to this, they desired a special recognition of their
The Mountain-king Titus had this advantage, he despised the world,
and let it be so understood; the man who does this the world runs
after. He acted as if (and perhaps it was true) he desired nothing from
any one; he had the indifference of the pretentious peasant; he might
hear his name spoken behind him seven times without so much as turning
his head to find out who spoke, or what was said of him. He rarely
talked with any one, but when he did, the person addressed was happy;
The Mountain-king has just spoken to me, and so long, and so
politely!he who could say this was elated with the honor. Landolin,
on the other hand, despised the world no less than the Mountain-king;
but he longed for applause and homage, and when it was not voluntarily
offered him, he endeavored to compel it. He was boastful, and displayed
his condescension, or even his anxiety for the good opinion of this and
that one, and by that very means trifled away the desired standing.
Landolin and the Mountain-king treated each other like friends,
while at the same time they hated each other profoundly.
Presently they stood in the presence of a third person, to whom each
of them was bound to do honor. Pfann, the Circuit Judge, a man with a
fine countenance, wearing gold spectacles, was walking with his wife on
his arm, through the crowded fair, bowing here and there. He now came
up to the two men, and told them that on the next day they would be
summoned to serve on the jury.
I'm sorry it cannot be arranged otherwise, he added, but the next
term of court falls during harvest.
It's always so, cried Landolin; in return for paying high taxes,
we have the privilege of sitting for weeks at a time, nailed to a
He thought that he had spoken not only with dignity, but with
general approval, and he looked around for signs of assent; but nobody
Titus, on the other hand, was silent, and his silence was more
weighty than Landolin's words.
We may congratulate you, said the judge's wife to Landolin; I
hear your daughter is to be betrothed to the miller's son, Anton, of
Rothenkirchen. He is an excellent young man, intelligent,
well-educated, and brave.
Landolin did not appear to be altogether satisfied with this praise,
and could not help saying, vaingloriously, even at the expense of his
Yes, the young folks are so desperately fond of each other, that I
have given my consent. Thank God, I am able to take a son-in-law of
lower rank; and, indeed, he might have been an officer. But I must say
farewell; I have waited too long, they are expecting me at the
'Sword.' He stepped quickly away.
When the Circuit Judge had found his way through the crowd to a
quiet corner, he said:
There you have a sample of your honest-hearted peasantry. Utter
stupidity or cunning roughness is their alternative. The roughness hits
at random, without reflecting how the smitten feels the blow. Landolin
is not ashamed to belittle the brave boy his daughter is to marry,
merely to make himself appear bigger by his side.
I still hold, answered his wife, that the hearts of these people
are true, and are often better than their words and deeds. Landolin did
not really wish to speak disparagingly of Anton; he only wanted to set
down his old rival, Titus; for Titus, too, would have been glad to have
Anton for a son-in-law.
The judge was astonished at this new information from his wife; but
at her charitable judgment, which nothing could shake, he had long
since left off being astonished.
They wandered on; and as they proceeded, the greetings given the
wife were, if possible, more earnest than those given the judge
himself. She nodded to some with special friendliness, and to a few she
gave a pleasant passing word.
On one side of the river was the noise and bustle of the crowded
fair; on the other, in the shade of the elms and willows, hidden from
all the world, sat Anton and Thoma, caressing each other.
Now be sensible, and say something, said Thoma at length.
No, no, I cannot talk, and I don't need to, for everything I would
say you know already, replied Anton. He told, however, of his
awakening before day, of his morning walk, and how he had greeted Thoma
from the far distance.
She laughed gladly, and tears came to her eyes. She was certainly
sincerely fond of Anton, but the deep, gushing love which now burst
from him she had scarcely dreamed of.
Yonder is the fair, said he, anything can be got there. I should
like to buy something for you, but it would be useless; the world, the
whole world, is yours.
Not quite the whole, she laughed, but you are right, don't buy
anything for me. All I want is your good heart; that I have, and such a
one all the gold in the world couldn't buy. Do you know what pleases me
best in all you say?
Tell me what it is.
I believe every word you speak. I don't believe you could possibly
tell an untruth.
Again they were silent until, as a happy smile broke over Anton's
face, Thoma said:
Why do you smile? Your soul laughs out. Tell me why!
Yes, yes, love; doesn't it seem as if our river were more joyous
than usual to-day? I've grown up on its banks, you know. When I was in
the war, I often fancied at night I heard it rushing. It made me
homesick. I was thinking just now, darling, that the little fishes must
be happy down there in the water.
It will be hard, Anton, for me to grow accustomed to it. I have a
real horror of water. When I was a very little child, one of our
servants was drowned, and they told me that the river must have its
sacrifice every year, and after three days it would give up the dead;
so I hated it. But nonsense, what foolish talk! See, there comes
Titus's wagon, with his son and daughter. The son wanted me and the
daughter wanted you.
She arose and waved her hand to them, and then called out, taking
care they should not hear her:
Buy yourselves dolls at the fair.
Anton remained seated, and a cloud passed over his face, for it
pained him that Thoma should greet them so scornfully.
A messenger came from the inn to say that Landolin had arrived. The
hostess met them at the door, and said:
Your friends are all up stairs in the corner room. Good luck to
The hostess of the Swordit so happens that every one speaks of
the hostess and not of the host, and her husband seems to be quite
satisfied with itthis wise woman, according to a plan of her own, had
changed and enlarged the old inn until it was twice as large as before.
For, as soon as a spot had been fixed upon for a railway station, she
had a new building added on the side toward the river, with a large
summer hall and verandas, where the people of rank in the village could
hold their summer gatherings in the open air. The corner room of the
house, on the town side, she arranged especially for betrothal
festivities. There was a great mirror, in which people could survey
themselves at full lengthto be sure not always an advantage. There
were colored prints of young lovers, of marriages, of christenings, and
of golden weddings.
At the table sat the miller and Landolin's wife, and waited long for
the farmer. The miller was annoyed, and Landolin's wife did not know
what to say, for she could not deny that her husband probably kept the
miller waiting intentionally, in order to show him who was the more
The miller had an earnest, good-natured face, and a thoughtfulness
in every word and gesture. He had a high regard for the farmer's wife,
and expressed it to her. She looked down, abashed, for she was not used
to being praised, and became silent. The miller, too, ceased talking,
and whistled gently to himself.
At length Landolin's step was heard, and following him came Thoma
and Anton. Landolin shook hands with the miller.
I have been waiting a long time, the miller said.
Landolin did not consider it necessary to excuse himself; he thought
people must be satisfied with all he did, and the way in which he did
The miller poured out some of the wine which stood on the table,
and, after touching glasses, Landolin said:
We have really nothing more to arrange. You know what division
Peter must make when he takes the estate. The money I have promised I
will pay down the day before the wedding. The five acres of forest
which I have bought, which border on your land, and are properly no
part of my farm, I now give to Thoma to be hers in her own right. You
have no one but your son, so there is nothing more to be said. Of
course, you will not marry again?
The miller smiled sadly, and said at length:
Then give your hands to one another in God's name, and may
happiness and blessing be yours for all time.
The lovers clasped each other's hands firmly, and so did the fathers
The betrothed drank from the same glass; and it was a good omen that
Thoma did not take from his hand the glass, which Anton held out to
her, but drank whilst he held it.
Landolin might have spoken, but he remained silent. It is not
necessary for him to speak. Is he not Landolin? He even looked
suspiciously at the miller. He did not esteem him highly, for every one
praised his good nature, and Landolin was inclined to consider good
nature as one kind of rascality.
Father-in-law, said Anton, whenever you come to our house you
will find joy there, for as surely as our brook will never flow up the
mountain side, so surely will Thoma's thoughts never turn toward her
old home in discontent.
Landolin opened his eyes at this speech; but his only answer was a
tap on the shoulder. The miller said, with a trembling voice:
Yes, yes; 'twill be beautiful to have a young woman in our house
Thoma will hold you in all honor, said the farmer's wife. She
honors her parents, and that makes sound housewives.
Landolin shrugged his shoulders slightly, when the miller continued:
I'm very sure, Landolin, that your daughter is not so hot-tempered
as you and your side of the house have always been.
Landolin smiled, well pleased that people should think him
hot-tempered, for this made them fear and respect him.
As Landolin still remained silent, the miller felt called upon to
I can well understand that it must be hard for you to let your
daughter leave your house; we found it so when our only daughter was
married. My wifeit is from her that Anton gets his ready speechsaid
that when the daughter who sang as she went up and down the stairs is
gone, then it seems that all the cheerfulness of the house has flown
away like a bird.
At these stupid, soft-hearted words, Landolin gave the miller a
disdainful look. But he did not notice this, and went on in a voice too
low for the lovers to hear:
I needn't praise Anton to you any more. He belongs to you as well
as to me. He is well educated; the military authorities wished to keep
him in the army. They said he would be made an officer, but that is not
for one of us. It will not be long before your daughter is the wife of
the bailiff. My wife, thank God, lived to see him come home from the
war with the great medal of honor. I'm sure you are glad of it too. A
man with that medal is worth much, I do not mean in money, but wherever
he goes he is esteemed and respected, and needn't stand back for
anybody, no matter who he is.
We needn't do that, either, said Landolin, looking at the miller
arrogantly. He laughed aloud when the miller added:
The judge's wife put it well when she said, 'Wherever he goes he
has the honorable recognition of the highest rank in the whole
Hoho! cried Landolin, so loudly that even the lovers started.
There was nothing more said; for, as the fair was over, the miller's
relatives and the brother of Landolin's wife came in. The farmer's wife
greeted her brother affectionately; and Landolin shook hands with him,
and bade him welcome. He and his brother-in-law were enemies, as the
brother-in-law sided with Titus; but to-day it was only proper that he
should be invited to the family festival.
They sat down together to the feast, when the miller remarked that
next Sunday he would go with the lovers to visit the patriarch
Walderjörgli, in the forest, and announce to him their betrothal.
Landolin's face reddened to the roots of his hair, and he exclaimed:
I don't care anything for the patriarch. I don't care anything for
old customs; and, as for me, Walderjörgli, with his long beard, is no
saint; he's not down in my calendar.
He is a relative of my wife, replied the miller, and you know
very well of how much importance he is.
Just as much as there is in my glass, answered Landolin, after he
had drained it.
His wife, fearing a quarrel, declared she had great respect for
Walderjörgli, and begged her husband to say nothing against him. Thoma
joined her, and laid her hand on her father's shoulder, imploring him
not to stir up a dispute unnecessarily.
Landolin smiled on his child; poured a fresh glass of wine, and
drank to the lovers' health.
Anton and Thoma now started to go, but Landolin cried excitedly:
Hold on! Wait a moment, Anton! You mustn't ask for the marriage to
take place before Candlemas. Give me your hand on it.
I have no hand to give. I have already given it to Thoma, replied
Anton, laughing, as he went away with his betrothed.
How many friends you have! said Thoma; for they were often stopped
on their way through the crowded fair grounds, especially by Anton's
old comrades. I wish we were alone, she added impatiently.
Yes, love, answered Anton, if we choose the day of the fair for
our betrothal, and show ourselves then for the first time together, we
must expect these congratulations, and I am glad to have them. Isn't it
delightful to have so many people rejoice with us in our happiness? It
adds to their enjoyment without taking from ours.
Do you really believe they rejoice? asked Thoma.
The conversation was interrupted by the handless beggar, who came up
to thank Thoma again, and tell her how astonished he was at such a
gift. He said he had been her father's substitute (for at that time
substitutes in the military service were still allowed).
Anton encouraged him to tell where he had lost his hand. It was on a
circular saw, in a mill on the other side of the valley. Anton told him
to come the next day, and perhaps he could give him work. While he was
speaking the judge's wife approached, and congratulated them heartily.
Thoma looked at her in surprise when she said:
You are the new generation; preserve the honesty of the old, and
add to it the progressiveness of the present. I shall write to my son
of your betrothal.
Anton shook hands twice with the judge's wife.
I beg you will give the lieutenant my most respectful greetings.
It was still difficult for the lovers to disengage themselves from
the crowd, for a group of Anton's comrades surrounded them, saying:
At your wedding we are going to march in front of you with the flag
of the Club and the regimental music.
Anton thanked them, and said he would be much pleased.
He had scarcely got out of the throng, when a teamster in a blue
jacket, who was walking beside a four-horse wagon, called out, Captain
Anton Armbruster! Hallo! and came up to him and said:
How are you? So you've got her, have you? Is that she? Is that
Then I wish you happiness and blessing. How tall and beautiful she
is! Let me shake hands with you.
Thoma gave her hand with reluctance, and the teamster continued
Get him to tell you what he did one night when we were before
Paris. We were lying by the camp-fire, roasted on one side, frozen on
the other. Anton, who was asleep, called out, 'Thoma! Thoma!' He
wouldn't own up to it afterwards, but I heard it plain enough. Well,
good-by; may God keep you both. Get up, he called to his horses, and
At last the lovers made their way out of the crowd to the quiet
meadow-path, where, for a time, they walked hand in hand, then stood
still. Any one who saw them must have thought they were speaking loving
words to each other. The youth's voice was full of tenderness, but he
spoke not of love, or, at least, not of love for his betrothed. He
began hesitatingly: Let me tell you something, darling.
What is it? What's the matter?
Just think of our being here together, and having each other, and
belonging to each other, and only a little while ago I was so far away
in France. There, in the field, on the march, or in the camp, thousands
upon thousands of us, we were like one man, no one for himself, no one
thinking of what he was at home. The brotherhood was all; and now, each
lives for himself alone.
You are not alone, we are together.
Yes, indeed. But you were going to ask me something.
Oh, yes! How did it happen that you called my name in your sleep?
I'll tell you. Do you remember my passing your house when I was on
my way to the army as a recruit?
Certainly I remember it.
Did you notice that I took a roundabout way over the mountain, so
as to pass it?
I didn't notice it then, but afterward I thought of it. When you
gave me your hand in farewell you looked at me with your fiery eyes,
that are so piercing.
Yes, I wanted then to tell you how much I loved you, but I wouldn't
do it, for your sake. I said to myself, 'You had better say nothing,
and so save her from heart-ache and anxiety while you are in the war,
and from life-long grief if you should be killed.' It was hard for me
to keep silent, but after I had gone I was glad of it. And, do you
remember? you had a wild-rose in your mouth by the stem, and the
rose-leaves lay on your lips, just where I wanted to put a kiss; and at
your throat was a corn-flower as blue as your eyes.
Oh, you flatterer! But go on, go on; what else?
Anton drew her to him and kissed her, then continued:
There! Shall I go on? Well, you took the two flowers in your hand,
and I saw you would like to give them to me, and I wanted to have them,
but even that I wouldn't ask. Often and often by day and by night, in
the field and on the watch, I thought of you, as the song says: and
once, when the teamster lay beside me, I spoke your name in my sleep.
Oh, you are so dear and so good and so sweet, cried Thoma, I'm
afraid I'm not gentle enough for you. In our home everything is rough,
we are not so. But you'll see I can be different.
Her eyes moistened while she spoke, and the whole expression of her
face changed to one of humility and tenderness.
I will not have you different, cried Anton, you shall remain as
you are, for just as you are you please me best. Oh, Heaven! who in the
world would believe that Landolin's Thoma of Reutershöfen could be as
gentle as a dove.
I gentle? she exclaimed, laughingly, I a dove? All right then,
catch me! she cried, joyously clapping her hands and running quickly
into the forest, whither Anton followed her.
They came within the border of the wood which belonged to Landolin.
On the side where the sun is most searching and powerful, the bark of
the mighty pine-trees was torn open, and the resin was dropping into
the tubs which were set for it.
It's a pity for the beautiful trees, said Anton; your father
mustn't tap such trees as these hereafter; they are good for lumber. He
must leave them to me.
Thoma begged him to be very careful how he dealt with her father,
for he would not bear opposition.
I don't know, she added, it seems to me father is veryvery
irritable to-day. I don't know why.
But I know. He is vexed because he has to give you up. You'll see,
I shall be so too in a thousand weeks. But a man must be a grandfather
Oh you! interrupted Thoma, coloring.
They kept on deeper into the forest, away from the path, and sat
down on the soft, yielding moss at the foot of a far-branching pine.
We have had enough kissing, let me rest a little now, I'm tired,
said Thoma, as she leaned against the tree. She smiled when Anton
hastily made his coat into a pillow for her head.
Lilies of the valley blossomed at their feet. Anton plucked one, and
with it stroked Thoma's cheek and forehead, gently singing the while
all manner of nursery songs, and magic charms. ++
I wish thee a night of repose,
A canopy of the wild rose,
Young May-bells to pillow thy head,
Sleep soft in thy flowery bed.
And where two lovers sit thus together, in the depth of the forest,
there streams from the mists arising heavenward, and from the murmuring
and rustling in the tree-tops, that same subtle enchantment and delight
which resounds in song, and is portrayed in fairy tales, where trees
and grass and wild beasts speak.
Hark; there's a finch, said Anton. Do you remember the story
about the finch?
No; tell it to me.
Once a young man went through a field to visit his sweetheart, and
the finch called out: 'Wip! Wip!' (wife, wife.) 'That's just what I
want,' said the young man. As he was on his way home again the finch
cried: 'Bethink you well. Bethink you well.' Now we, dear Thoma, have
bethought ourselves well. Fly on, finch, we don't need your help. 'Wip!
How tender you are! said Thoma, smiling; then she shut her eyes,
and soon she was fast asleep. As Anton looked at her she seemed to
become more beautiful, but she must have gone to sleep with some
willful impulse in her mind, for her face had a strained expression.
From a little stone near by, some lizards looked with their bright,
knowing eyes at the slumberer and her guard. They shuffled noiselessly
away, and presently others came to see the wonder. Dragon-flies in
green and gold came flying through the air, brushed against each other,
and sped away. A gay butterfly lighted on Thoma's forehead, just at the
parting of her hair, and rested there like a diadem. On the highest
twig of the tree, a green finch perched. He turned his head, saw the
sleeping girl, and flew swiftly away. A cuckoo alighted from his
flight, and sounded his cry. Thoma awoke, and looked around bewildered.
Good morning, my darling, said Anton, you have been my betrothed
ever since yesterday.
Have I slept very long? asked she.
No, not very, but surely you dreamt something strange. What was
I never tell dreams; I don't believe in them. Come, let us go
And so they started homeward.
At the edge of the wood they saw Cushion Kate, with her red
kerchief round her head, standing by a young man who sat by the
roadside. She offered him a pretzel, but he refused it.
See, said Thoma, that's 'Cushion Kate' with her Vetturi. She
spoils the good-for-nothing fellow. He used to be a servant of ours,
but we found that he had been stealing oats, nobody knows how long. So,
of course, father sent him away.
The poor creature looks almost starved.
He's not only poor, but he's a rascal. Father doesn't want to
prosecute him, so the fellow keeps bothering him for his wages.
When they came up, the lad arose quickly. He was of slight build,
and his bluish-black hair fell in disorder over his forehead. The dark,
weary eyes had a frightened look. He took off a torn straw hat, and
bowed several times to Anton. He seemed to be trying to say something.
Your name is Vetturi, isn't it? asked Anton. Come here. Is there
anything you want?
I won't take alms like a beggar, I'd rather strike my mouth against
a stone, replied Vetturi in a hoarse voice; and turning to his mother
as though she had contradicted him, said: Mother, you shan't take
Then in an entirely different tone he said to Thoma: May I wish you
No, you may not. Nobody who speaks so disrespectfully of my father
shall wish me joy. Own up to stealing the oats. If you do, I will go to
father and get him to forgive you.
I won't do it.
Then abuse me, not my father. My father might, perhaps, have given
up to you, but I won't let him as long as you keep on lying.
But I can wish you joy, Anton, cried Cushion Kate; I hope your
wife will be like your mother. She was a good woman; there isn't her
like in the whole country. I was in your house when you came into the
world. You are just eight days older than my oldest daughter would be
now. Now, get your father-in-law to take my Vetturi again, and
straighten everything out. We are poor people. We don't want to quarrel
with such a powerful farmer as he is, but he must not squeeze us until
the blood runs out from under our nails.
Come along, cried Thoma, taking hold of Anton's arm, don't let
her talk to you so.
She walked away. Anton did not follow her, but said to Vetturi that
he would employ him as a wood-cutter up in the forest.
My Vetturi cannot do that, interrupted the mother. He cannot work
up there from Monday morning to Saturday night, and have no decent
food, and no decent bed.
Come! come! urged Thoma from a distance. Anton obeyed, and Vetturi
called after them all kinds of imprecations against Landolin.
With a frown Thoma said to Anton, in a reproachful tone:
That Vetturi is no comrade of yours, and why do you stop and talk
with him? I do not like it in you. You are not proud enough. Such
people should not speak to us unless they are spoken to.
Anton looked at her with astonishment. There was a sharpness in her
words and voice which surprised him. She noticed it, perhaps, for she
gave him a bewitching smile, and continued:
See, I am proud of you, and you must be proud of yourself. Such a
man as you are! People ought to take off their hats when they speak to
you. I wouldn't say good-day to a rascal, and you ought not to either.
Perhaps you think I'm angry. Don't think that for an instant. It's only
that I have no patience with a liar. Whatever a man does, if he
confesses it, you feel like helping him; but a liar, a hypocrite
But, Thoma dear, interrupted Anton, lying belongs to badness; a
man who is bad enough to steal, must be bad enough to lie.
I understand everything at once. You need not always explain a
thing to me twice. I could see a liar or a hypocrite perishing before
my eyes and not help him until he
Oho! You're getting excited.
Yes, I always do when I'm on this subject. But enough of this. What
are the cottagers to us! See there, it was there by the pear-tree that
you said good-by to me, when you went to the war. See, it is the finest
tree of all. It looks like a great nosegay.
And before the flowers become fruit you will be mine.
Anton asked about their neighbor's daughter, Thoma's old playmate.
Sadly she told him how she had broken with her only friend. Anger and
shame reddened her cheeks as she related to him how her old playmate
had, on her wedding day, worn a wreath which she had no right to wear.
Thoma's lips quivered when she said:
They say that Cushion Kate's mother was forced to stand at the
church door with a straw wreath on her head, and a straw girdle round
her waist. That was hard, but just. But for the girl to lie so, before
God and man; to accept an honor to which she had no right. To know it
herself and yet be so bold. There, that is just like Vetturi. I
have no patience nor friendship with a liar, whether rich or poor, man
or woman. He who will not take the responsibility of his own acts may
go to perdition. Indeed, it is not necessary to tell him so, for he has
already gone there. You laugh? You are right! Such an honorable man as
you are doesn't need to be lectured. Now I don't need my playmate nor
anything else while I have you and father. No princess could be happier
They went on hand in hand. When they reached the farm-house, her
mother, who had come straight home, called to them from the window to
wait until everything should be ready for the visitors, who would soon
be there with their congratulations.
So the two seated themselves in the garden back of the house, on the
terrace beyond the cherry-tree, and the blossoms on the tree were not
richer than the happy thoughts of the young couple.
While they were here under the cherry-tree, Cushion Kate was sitting
by her son; he said:
Mother, I must get away from here. I will go to Alsace, into a
And you will leave me alone, complained the mother for the
hundredth time; and for the hundredth time related, as though it were a
comfort, that Vetturi's grandfather had been one of the Reutershöfen
family; and though he received his portion as a younger son, neither he
nor his descendants had ever been able to get along. Vetturi let his
mother talk, but still insisted that he would go.
Mother, I'm a burden to you. It makes me ashamed.
You're not a burden to me, and you shouldn't be ashamed to stay
with your mother. What have I left in the world if you go away? I shall
never want to get up again. I shall never want to make the fire. If you
go away you must take me along.
We'll see, mother. But first, I will have my pay from Landolin;
this very day I will have it.
With these words he tore himself away, and hurried to the
Just as the farmer's wife had expected, many people returning from
the fair, and many too who had not been there, came to offer their good
wishes upon Thoma's betrothal. She made them welcome, and invited them
to eat and drink.
When Landolin reached home his greeting to the guests was cool and
careless, and he did not look at all like the father of a girl who had
just been happily betrothed to her lover.
People said afterward that they knew then from his manner what he
was likely to do. But who knows whether they were really so wise?
Landolin said to his wife:
Stop feeding these people. Start them off. Don't be so friendly and
talkative with the herd. It's impudence for them to come to me with
good wishes. I don't want their good wishes.
He then went across the yard and stood awhile by the dog. Yes, he
even spoke to him. You're right, you should have been with me. Such
fellows don't deserve a word. They ought to have a dog set on them.
Then Vetturi rushed into the yard, bareheaded, and called out:
Farmer! for the last time I say, I want my pay, my money.
What? You want anything from me! March out of this yard at once.
Off with you! What? You're standing there yet? Once for all, go, or
I'll make you!
I won't go.
Shall I untie the dog and set him on you?
You needn't untie the dog. You're a dog yourself.
What I just said.
Vetturi, you know I have a hand like iron. Go! Go, or I'll knock
you down so you'll never move again.
Do it! Kill me! You man-skinner, you
A stone was thrown; there was a shriek; a moan was heard that even
hushed the barking of the dog. Vetturi fell down, groaned once, and
then lay motionless.
Anton and Thoma had come to the open gate. They stood there as if
rooted to the spot.
For God's sake! What has happened? Anton cried, and hastened to
the prostrate form. But Thoma stood still, and fixed her gaze on her
father, who was tearing open his vest, and loosening his collar.
Controlling herself with a violent effort, Thoma went up to her
father, who was staring into his open hands.
Father! What have you done? cried she. He looked at her. There was
a terrible change in his face. Is this the look of a man at the moment
that he has killed another?
Thoma laid her hand on his shoulder. He shook it off and said: Let
me alone. He was afraid of her, and she of him.
At this moment it came to pass that father and daughter lost each
He's dead! His skull is broken! called the hostler, Fidelis, who,
with Anton, had lifted Vetturi up.
With eyes cast on the ground, Thoma went to the house. Landolin left
the yard, and went to the spring on the other side of the road.
The people in the house, who had come to give their congratulations,
hastened out. With lamentation and mourning they carried Vetturi home
to his mother.
Landolin's yard was suddenly still and forsaken; only a little pool
of blood, near the heap of paving-stones, showed what had happened
there. The sparrows and chickens had gathered round. The head-servant
Tobias drove them off, and quickly swept everything away. He then threw
the stone and the broom into the drain.
When Anton returned Landolin was still at the spring, holding his
hands under its broad stream of water.
How is it? he asked, turning round.
He is dead; he gives no sign of life, replied Anton.
Landolin shook the water from his hands fiercely, and shaking his
head slowly, said:
You saw it, Anton? You had just come up. The stone didn't touch
him; he fell down at the sound of my voice.
Before Anton could reply, Landolin asked: Was his mother at home?
Yes, she had just come in, and it was terrible when she threw
herself on her son's body and cried out: 'Vetturi! open your eyes,
Vetturi! Open your mouth, here is some brandy! Drink, do drink!'
I, too, must drink something, replied Landolin; and placing his
lips to the trough, he drank long. Indeed, it was plain that he
purposely allowed the water to splash into his face, and as he slowly
wiped it dry, he said:
Go to Thoma, now! I'll soon follow you.
Anton obeyed. He found Thoma standing near the porch by the flowers,
picking off the dead leaves of the rosemary, the yellow jessamine, and
the carnations. She did not look round.
Thoma, here I am; don't you see me? cried he.
Yes, I see you, answered Thoma. Her voice and her face, which she
now turned toward Anton, were changed; and her eyes, which before had
been so fearless, now wandered uneasily here and there.
I see you, she continued, I see the flowers, I see the trees and
the sky. Everything pretends to be alive, but everything is dead.
Thoma, you are always so strong and resolute. Control yourself. I
know it is sad and distressing, but for the sake of a person who is
It is not only that a person has been killed; he, you, I, my
father, all, all have received a deathblow.
Thoma, don't excite yourself so, you are always so sensible. You
know I have been in the war, and have seen many
Yes, yes, it is true; you too have killed men. When he was still
alive you were so tender-hearted toward him, and now that he is dead
you are so hard. Say, am I still in my right mind?
You are, if you will only control yourself.
I'll try, thank you. Do you think that my father, that any one of
us, can ever be happy again for a single minute?
Certainly! Your father has done nothing.
Who then has? Is Vetturi not dead?
He is dead, but he was hurt by falling on the paving-stones. Yes,
Anton! cried Thoma, intensely excited, Anton, you're not saying
that yourself, some one else is speaking through you. Did my father
tell you that?
Anton trembled, and Thoma continued: Anton, for my sake you are
speaking falsely. You lie! There he stands, and has such true eyes, so
honest, and yet will lie. How can I now believe your Yes before the
altar? Anton, you're telling a lie.
With tremulous voice, Anton replied:
Thoma, I'mI'm a soldier. His hand touched the medal of honor
upon his breast.
Take that off, cried Thoma. Go! go away! Even you can tell a lie.
Thoma! I forgive you. In affliction one turns against his dearest
You're no more my dearest friend. I'll not have your forgiveness.
Go away forever and ever. I have no part in you, and you shall have no
part in me.
She rushed away and locked herself in her bedroom. Anton stood for a
time benumbed, then knocked at her door, and spoke lovingly to her. She
made no answer. He threatened to break open the door unless she gave
some sign. Then the bolt was drawn; the door opened a little way; and
at his feet fell the engagement ring. The door was again closed and
bolted; Anton picked up the ring and went away.
Landolin turned away from the spring and went into the yard. He
stopped a moment at the dog's kennel, and said to himself: Chained!
Did he feel, and did he wish to say that henceforth he himself was
He unfastened the dog, and it followed him into the living-room. No
one was there. Landolin sat down in the easy chair, nervously grasped
its arms, and moved his hands over them as if to convince himself that
they were still there. Then he pulled up the loose tops of his boots,
as though making ready for a walk. He arose, but went only as far as
the table, which he repeatedly rubbed with his hands, as though trying
to wipe something off. With a peremptory voice he called to have the
supper brought. It was soon ready. His wife sat down beside him. She
said nothing; she seemed comforted, even delighted, that her husband
was willing to eat; and she forced herself to eat with him.
Landolin told the maid to call Thoma and Anton to supper. The maid
returned with the answer that Anton had gone away, and that Thoma sent
word that she was not coming. At this, Landolin seized his fork, and
struck it through the cloth, deep into the hard table. His wife arose,
her lips tightly compressed, and looked with dismay at the sacred
family table, as though she expected to see it shed blood after her
husband's terrible blow.
The fork was still sticking in the table, when a carriage drew up to
the door, and the District Judge and his clerk entered. The farmer's
wife had the courage to draw the fork quickly out.
Landolin held out his hand in welcome, but the District Judge
appeared not to notice it. Landolin with a steady voice thanked the
judge for coming so soon to find out the facts of the unhappy affair.
Pray be seated, your honor; and you, too, Mr. Clerk, he said,
ingratiatingly; then poured out three glasses of wine, and taking one
in his hand, touched the other two, as a sign to the gentlemen to
drink. But the District Judge said curtly: No, thank you, and did not
take the glass. He leaned back in his chair while the clerk spread a
paper on the table.
Sit down, he said to Landolin; but the latter replied: I'm
comfortable standing, and laid his hand upon the back of the chair
which stood in front of him. He drummed on it with his fingers, and
controlling himself with a violent effort, said:
Will you ask me questions, or shall I tell it in my own way?
You may go on.
Your honor, that wine there is pure, for I brought it myself from
the vat at Kaiserstuhl; but I think the wine at the Sword is not pure.
When I drink during the day, and talk at the same time, it sets me
beside myself; but the fright at the accident has brought me to my
So you were drunk at the time of theof the accident.
Landolin started. This is not a man who has come to gossip with me.
It is a judge, and a judge over me. Stop! How can being drunk help?
These thoughts passed rapidly through his mind, and he replied, almost
Thank heaven, I am never so drunk as not to know what I am doing. I
can stand a good deal.
He bestowed a confidential smile on the judge, but when he saw the
unchanging gravity of his countenance, he shrugged his shoulders
contemptuously, and went on determinedly:
I can prove that the good-for-nothing fellow got no harm from me.
Have you got that down? said the judge to the clerk; and he
replied: Yes, I am taking it in short-hand.
The chair under Landolin's hand moved, for he was dismayed to find
that his disconnected expressions were all written down. He now waited
for questions to be put to him, and after a little while the judge
Have you not had a violent quarrel, once before to-day, with
one-handed Wenzel of Altenkirchen?
Have you found that out already?
Yes. Tell me how it happened.
How it happened? The story is soon told. More than thirteen years
ago Wenzel was my substitute in the army. My father knew him well. He
was a boatman. You can ask Walderjörgli if he wasn't. Our families are
the oldest in the country
But what has that to do with Wenzel?
Oh yes! Well! My father gave both Wenzel and his mother a great
deal of money and clothes, and now Wenzel still tries to bleed me.
Did you not threaten to lay him out cold if he spoke to you before
other people again?
Maybe I did, and maybe I didn't. A man sometimes says such a thing
when he's angry; but I did not say it in earnest. Have I all at once
become a man who is ready to kill any one that crosses his path? Am I
an unknown adventurer?
Landolin waited in vain for an answer, for the judge came back to
the main point and asked:
Were there any witnesses to the affair with Vetturi?
Yes, to be sure! My future son-in-law, Anton Armbruster, whom you
know, and my daughter.
The District Judge desired them both to be called. He was told that
Anton had gone away.
Thoma soon entered, and the judge arose and set a chair for her
opposite to him.
Thoma sat down and folded her hands. She did not look up. As you
are Landolin's daughter you may refuse to testify, said the judge in a
kindly tone. Thoma wearily raised her head.
Father! What can I say?
What you saw.
She looked steadily into her father's face. She saw that he forced
his eyes to remain open, but the eyelids trembled as though they must
close before her glance. She turned away with a relentless movement of
her head, and laying her clenched hand upon the table, said:
Your honorI sayII refuse to testify.
Landolin groaned. He knew what was going on in his daughter's mind.
She rose and left the room without a look or a word for any one. They
all gazed after her in silence.
The judge now asked Landolin if any of the servants had seen the
affair. Landolin answered hesitatingly that he did not know; he had not
looked around; but that Tobias and Fidelis were at home. It was with
alarm that he perceived that his fate was in the hands of others.
The judge asked for his son Peter. Landolin shrugged his shoulders.
Nobody cared whether Peter was at home or not. He was an obstinate,
Nevertheless, though no one knew it, at this hour Peter had become
an important personage.
No one dreamed that the little sliding window, between the
living-room and the kitchen, was half-open, and that Peter lurked
behind it. When he heard his father's answer, he quickly pulled off his
boots, sprang noiselessly down the steps to the barn where Tobias was,
We now know how it happened. The stone did not hit Vetturi. Do you
hear? And you too? turning to the hostler Fidelis. Tobias nodded
understandingly. Fidelis, on the other hand, made no answer.
There was no time to say anything more, for the two servants were
called into the house. Before Tobias left the yard he threw a stone
down near the gate.
Tobias was first reprimanded for having swept away the marks of
blood. He took it all quietly, and said, in a firm voice, that he had
plainly seen that Vetturi, who was always shaky, had not been hit by
the stone, but had fallen down himself on the paving-stones. When the
head-servant began speaking, Landolin had closed his eyes, but he now
looked up triumphantly. His elbow rested on the chair; he held his hand
over his mouth, and pressed his lips tightly together when Tobias
The stone that Vetturi threw, lies down there yet, scarcely a step
from where the master stood.
Landolin raised himself to his full height. That's the thing!
Self-defense! I must justify myself on that ground. Landolin grasped
the arm of the chair, as a drowning man, battling with the waves,
grasps the rope thrown out to save him; and, just so, his soul clung to
the thought of self-defense.
Fidelis said quite as positively that he had seen his master pick up
a paving-stone with both hands, lean back, draw a long breath, and
throw it. It had struck Vetturi on the head, and he had not seen
Vetturi throw anything.
Landolin started up with an angry exclamation. He was told to be
silent. The judge arose and said, evidently with forced calmness, that
he was sorry, but, in order to prevent any tampering with the
witnesses, he was compelled to place Landolin in confinement for the
The chair moved violently, and Landolin cried:
Your honor, I am Landolin of Reutershöfen; this is my house; out
there are my fields, my meadows, my forests. I am no adventurer, and I
sha'n't run away for a beggar who is nothing to me.
The judge shrugged his shoulders, and said that they would probably
be able to release him in a few days.
As the clerk folded his papers together, he cast a longing look at
the poured-out wine; but he had to content himself with licking the
ink-spots from his fingers.
May I not send my husband a bed? asked the farmer's wife. This was
the first word she had spoken. The judge replied with a compassionate
smile that it was not necessary.
Landolin took her hand, and, for the first time in many years, said
in an affectionate tone:
Dear Johanna. Her face was illuminated as though a miracle had
been worked; and Landolin continued: Don't worry. Nothing will happen
Can't he take me with him? asked his wife of the judge.
I am sorry that it is impossible.
She was about to send a maid-servant for Thoma, but Landolin
prevented it, and said to the judge:
I am ready to go now.
When Landolin had taken his seat in the carriage, a guard, who had
been standing before the house, sprang upon the box with the coachman.
The farmer's wife brought her husband's cloak, and he wrapped himself
in it, for he was shivering, although the air was mild. He pulled his
hat down to hide his face, and besides, it was night.
The carriage rolled away. The barking of the dog, and the rumbling
of the wheels over the plateau could long be heard. At last it died
away, and all was still.
All was still in the yard. The moonbeams shone upon the house and
barns, and glistened on the spring, the splashing of which could still
Under the broad eaves sat the head-servant and Peter. Tobias, in
delight, clapped his hands together, and rubbed his knees. He had not
only testified so as to help his master, but what, if possible, pleased
him more, he had succeeded in cheating the judge, and making a
laughing-stock of him. It was rare fun for him. He whispered to Peter:
Only be sharp! You're smarter, slyer, than anybody guesses. You
mustn't go after Fidelis hammer and tongs; that will only make the
matter worse. He's a stiff-backed soldier of the new Prussian pattern.
Just keep your head on your shoulders. By degrees, we'll teach him what
he saw. If you turn him off now, thenHold on! I've got it! Now
listen to me.
He stopped a moment; put his hands together, as though he had a bird
caged in them; chuckled to himself; and not until Peter questioned him
did he say:
Listen! Before taking the oath, they ask, 'Are you in the employ of
the accused?' And if one answers 'Yes,' his testimony doesn't amount to
much, good or bad. So we must keep Fidelis, do you understand! Hush!
Tobias opened the gate and greeted the pastor, whom he told that
Landolin had already been taken away, and that his wife was in the
house. The pastor went to the living-room, where he found the farmer's
wife with an open prayer-book in her hand. He commended her for this,
and said that he would have been there earlier, but had returned from
the fair only an hour before, and had gone to Cushion Kate's first.
He strove to comfort her, reminding her that man must bow to the will
The clergyman, a tall, hard-featured man, was the youngest son of a
rich farmer. He was brusque in his intercourse with his people, but
mingled little with themelection-time exceptedfor he knew this
conduct pleased the farmers best. In summertime the pastor was all day
long by the brook in the valley, fishing. In the winter-time he stayed
at home, and no one knew what he did.
Oh, sir! said the farmer's wife, mournfully, people don't know
how much they love each other until something like this happens. She
blushed like a young girl, and continued: Children live for
themselves; but married peopleit seems to me that I have done wrong
in not letting my husband see how much
Her emotion would not allow her to continue. The pastor consoled her
by saying that she had always been an honest woman, and a good wife;
that God would ward off this evil from her; and that this misfortune
would redound to her lasting welfare. He was astonished that this
woman, whom people generally considered shallow, could show such deep
How does Thoma bear it? he asked.
I will call her, she answered.
She went out and soon returned with Thoma, who looked so careworn,
that for a moment the pastor could say nothing. He soon, however,
endeavored to comfort her.
Herr Pastor, began Thoma, what do you think about it? I don't
know. I think I must go to Cushion-Kate's.
Wait till to-morrow morning, interrupted her mother.
No, I think I must go to-day.
Yes! do so, said the pastor approvingly, I have just come from
her house. She did not show by word or sign that she heard what I said.
She sits motionless on the floor beside her dead boy. Come, you can go
a part of the way with me.
Thoma and the pastor walked side by side. The pastor could not speak
of Anton, for this was no time for congratulations.
The moon had disappeared, and dark clouds covered the sky.
It will rain to-morrow, thank God. It is much needed, was all that
the pastor said during the walk. At the meadow-path which leads to
Cushion-Kate's house, he asked if he should go there with her, but she
declined and went alone. She had to pass the house of the Galloping
Cooper, and there, in the shadow of a pile of barrel staves, she heard
old Jochen say to the people who sat with him on the bench before the
Oh yes! It's Landolin! They've got him now, and he won't get away.
He'll have to pay for it, but not as his father used to pay for his
tricks. Here, on my right thumb is still the scar where Landolin bit me
in a fight we had. His father paid smart money for it. Yes; in old
times the common people only had bones that the farmers' sons might
break them. When Landolin stepped into the dancing-room, the floor
trembled, and so did the heart of everybody there. Now, he's getting
Will his head be cut off? asked a child's voice.
He deserves it; but they don't behead people any more.
All this fell on Thoma like a thunderbolt. She stood as though on
fire. Her fresh life seemed all burned away and turned to ashes. She
pressed her cold hands to her burning face, and fled homeward, unseen.
When she had almost reached the house, she started back in terror,
as though a ghost had waylaid her; but it was only the dog who rubbed
himself affectionately against her. Thoma was angry with herself for
being so easily frightened. That must not be, and certainly not now.
The dog leaped before her, barking. He had evidently been driven home.
When she came in, her mother resting her hand on her open
prayer-book, asked how Cushion-Kate was doing.
Thoma acknowledged that she had not been to see her, but did not
tell the reason.
Her mother begged Thoma to stay with her during the night. Thoma sat
by the bed until she had gone to sleep, and then went to her own room,
for she knew that she would disturb her mother's rest.
It was late at night, when Thoma threw open the window of the room
in which she should have been asleep. Her cheeks glowed; but her lover,
who on this mild spring night, should have been talking with and
caressing her, came not. From the forest came the song of a
nightingale, and from the hill behind another answered, in rivalry.
Thoma did not hear them. She was struggling with a demon that night.
Thoma was a well-bred farmer's daughter. To be sure she had not had
much training. She had been one of the best scholars in the public
school, and at home she was taught to be diligent and honest; and this
she was. She was proud and imperious like her father, who had indulged
her from her childhood, and, as her mother cared nothing for the
outside world, had been her companion on all sorts of pleasure
excursions. He delighted in her decision of character, and above all
else had encouraged her pride.
A daughter of a neighboring farmer had been Thoma's playmate, but in
reality, her father was her only confidant. It might do for poor people
to fall in love, but Thoma, as became a rich farmer's daughter, had
made up her mind to marry only a rich and influential man of the same
class. Anton, to be sure, was of somewhat lower rank, but still he was
of a good family; and, though not rich, he was sought after by all the
daughters of the country side.
Even a princess is glad to be loved; and certainly no princess was
ever more deeply loved, or received truer homage than Anton gave Thoma.
And now how had it all turned out!
The pride which Landolin had fostered in his child until it had
grown all too powerful, was now turned against him, and against the
Thoma clenched her hands. She did not want to be pardoned, or
receive anything as a gift, not even from her lover. He shall not come
and say, or even hint by his manner'The honor of your family is lost;
you are the daughter of a murderer; but still I will be good and true
to you.' Noit is over.
As she thought of her father, her hands tightened convulsively. How
could he have done such a thing! Common people, servants and beggars
may now look into her life, discuss it, and pass judgment upon it. They
may be respectful or not as they please. They will act as though she
should be thankful to them for greeting her.
With a rapidity which knows no distance, Thoma's thoughts hastened
from farm-house to farm-house, where the daughters were condemning or
pitying herherThoma; or they were sleepingthey could sleep
peacefully, but Thoma could not sleep.
As when the poison from an adder's fang permeates the body of a
strong, vigorous man; rushes through his veins, maddens him, urging him
on, and at the same time making him powerless; seeks outlet where there
is none; stifles his cry for help; destroys his lifeso it was with
Thoma, when on this night she clenched her hands in silent desperation.
A concentration of thought, a subtlety of which she never dreamed,
possessed her. She struggled against it as against a bitter enemy, but
Imprisonment, the penitentiary, capital punishmentthese are things
for the poor; but not for the rich and influential. Thus Thoma had
always thought; or rather, scarcely giving it a thought, she had
considered it a matter of course. But nowif her father confesses what
he has done, eternal disgrace will be the consequence. Should he not
confess, eternal falsehood, hypocrisy, constant trembling, a cowardly
shunning of every glance, and a forced smile when criminals are
Thoma groaned, stricken to the heart, and then her thoughts became
pitiful; Oh, my father! He is sitting sleepless and alone in prison.
This one day must seem to him like many years; like a whole life-time.
Who can help him? Who? Who can bring the dead to life, or wipe away sin
from the soul?
Thoma looked up at the stars. They stand still, and twinkle and
glitter over millions of sleepers; over millions of watchers in
sickness, sorrow, and distress, and no one of them is more unhappy than
Tears filled her eyes. She forced them back impatiently. She must
not allow herself to become faint-hearted, nor to lament. She would
have no pity from any one, for any one!Proud, proud! But where is
my pride? 'Tis gone. Over yonder lies a corpse, a murdered man!
It seemed to Thoma that she could plainly see Vetturi, standing
before her with his bleeding head. She screamed aloud, but the terrible
picture did not vanish. She threw herself on the pillows, then raised
her head to listen. The cock crew. Her eyes closed tremulously, and, as
she lay there but half awake, fragments of the verse from the Bible ran
through her mind: The cock crowsthou wilt denyIn prison one
does not hear the cock crow.
Thoma buried her face deeper in the pillows. It was raining gently,
and she fell asleep.
The Thoma who awoke was a different girl from the Thoma of the
betrothal morning. She soon heard this from strangers. Her former
playmate, with whom she had quarrelled, came and told her how changed
she was, and that they must be friends again. Thoma soon showed her,
however, that she had not grown more lenient with the change, and would
accept no pity. She repulsed the disgraced girl coldly and sharply.
The prison at the county-town stands high up on the mountain; the
sound of the bells in the village on the plateau reaches it from far
away. Landolin knew they were tolling for a funeral. He thought of
home, where they were burying Vetturi. He tried to imagine all that was
passing, but he could not.
Round Cushion-Kate's little house stood a crowd of people, mostly
women, for their husbands did not think it worth while to lose a day's
work for an insignificant person like Vetturi.
The district physician left the house, followed by the bailiff and
the clerk of the borough, who put on his hat as he came out of doors.
Then came the pastor. The sobs and weeping became louder and louder,
and almost drowned the tolling of the bells.
The procession was formed. Cushion-Kate followed the bier with her
red kerchief tied under her chin, and pulled far down over her
forehead, so that her face could scarcely be seen; and reaching from
her shoulders to her feet hung the large black woolen cloak which the
borough furnished to mourners. Her eyes were fastened on the ground as
As the procession passed Landolin's house, she shook her bony fist
toward it, from under the black cloak.
The house was closed. No window was thrown open.
Anton, who walked in the procession next to the village clerk, could
not see that Thoma joined the last persons of the little train, and
knelt in the churchyard, hidden by a hedge.
The pastor spoke a few touching words of comfort. He exhorted the
poor bereaved mother to bear no malice in her soulto leave punishment
to God. He repeated that he who thinks of revenge and retaliation does
more harm to his own soul than to him whom he seeks to punish.
Cushion-Kate's moans changed to rebellious mutterings. But almost as
many eyes rested upon Anton as upon Cushion-Kate herself; and overcome
by his emotion, he suddenly burst into loud weeping.
The procession broke up, and the people scattered in different
directions. Anton started away. He walked slowly, as though undecided
what to do; and then turning as with a sudden presentiment, he saw
Thoma, who was rising from her knees. She stood still. She seemed to be
embarrassed at his seeing her. He turned back, and holding out his
One must not say good day, in the churchyard; or perhaps you do not
share the superstition?
She neither answered, nor gave him her hand.
May I walk with you? See, they are looking at us. Be calm!
She walked by his side without raising her eyes.
I'm waiting patiently for you to speak, said Anton in a low tone.
She looked into his face with her great eyes, but their glance was
Is your father here? she asked at length; her voice too was
No, he is at home, replied Anton. Shall he come and see you?
She shook her head silently, and Anton continued:
Unfortunately your father quarreled with every one yesterday; with
the one-armed man, and with my father. He thought your father had
already returned from town, and so he did not come now. Your father
must make the first visit.
Thoma cast a bitter, wounded glance at Anton, who said in a soothing
tone, almost gaily indeed, that Thoma's father had been so fierce with
all the world because he had had to give up his daughter. A sad smile
passed over Thoma's face.
I may go home with you, may I not? asked Anton.
Thoma stood still. She laid her hand on her heart, and said:
I am done with this. I have settled it here. Don't say that it is
pride, don't say that I did not love you;or, if it is a comfort, you
may think so. Anton, I am walking with you for the last time. I am
speaking to you for the last time. Anton, it must, it must, be
all over between us. I cannot, I will notI will not go into a house
where I do not bring honor. I will learn to bear my lonely life. Seek
for yourself some other happiness. Farewell!
Thoma, you thrust from you him on whom you should lean.
I thrust no one away from me, and I will lean on no one.
They had reached the house. She entered quickly, leaving Anton
standing alone outside, but he was not long by himself, for Tobias and
Peter came up to him. They welcomed him heartily; for of course he
would testify, as they would, that the stone did not hit Vetturi, but
that he had fallen down on the sharp-pointed paving stones in terror at
Landolin's strong voice. They were very careful not to say that Vetturi
had thrown a stone first.
They said how fortunate it was that a man so highly thought of as
Anton had seen it all plainly; and Tobias added, smirkingly, that it
was well that the engagement was broken off for the present; for, as
son-in-law, his testimony would not have full weight. He further begged
Anton to instruct his comrade Fidelis. Go and call Fidelis, Tobias
said to Peter, who soon returned with him. The head-servant and the son
now urged Fidelis to let Anton convince him that he had been mistaken;
but Fidelis remained immovable, and repeated that he had no doubts in
the matter. He was sure that Anton's convictions were as honest as his
own, even though they differed from them ... but for his part, he could
not and would not say anything different from what he had seen. In
court it would appear who was right.
Anton returned home troubled. He said to himself: Have I let
Landolin tell me what I saw? Shall I lose my heart to the daughter, and
my conscience to the father? It would be better if the marriage had not
been broken off, for then I could refuse to testify.
The farmer's wife had often visited her husband in the presence of
the examining magistrate. Peter had several times accompanied his
mother, but Thoma did not come. Her father was too high-spirited to
inquire for her, or ask why she staid away. Perhaps she disapproved of
his obstinacy in staying in prison; perhaps she approved of his pride,
for Landolin had told the judge, I will not go out with a halter round
my neck, for people to make sport of me; one to pull it tight, so as to
choke me a little, and another to graciously loosen it. I will only go
as a free man. And didn't you say that I am to appear in court next
So he staid in prison, and was not obliged to see any one but his
wife, his son, the examining magistrate, and his attorney. But one pair
of eyes he saw, that looked more friendly at him than the eyes of a
child or a sister. The district judge's wife had obtained permission to
visit the prisoners.
And the hearts must indeed have been hard that were not gladdened
when that lady entered the cell, while the guards waited at the open
Madame Pfannfor by this simple title did the judge's wife allow
herself to be calledMadame Pfann was exceedingly happy in her
marriage. Although her husband could not forbear occasionally laughing
at her missionary zeal, nevertheless he willingly allowed her her own
way in everything. He delighted in the many successes she achieved, but
above all other things, in the unwavering faithfulness with which she
fulfilled the duty she had taken upon herself.
They had an only son, who in July, 1870, entered the army as a
volunteer, was promoted to a lieutenancy on the field of battle, and
had remained in the service. Madame Pfann had not waited for some great
event before she set herself to work. Years before she had commenced
the work of philanthropy, and carried it out with a zeal that was
universally acknowledged. She was the daughter of a plain professor in
the gymnasium at the capital; and she took pleasure in saying that she
owed her capacity for her work to her father's simple and noble
She was aware that people called her conduct eccentric and
sentimental; but she cared nothing for that.
An old-time saying tells us that on the path of heroic deeds a man
has to battle with giants and monsters. Madame Pfann had had to battle
with a great and noble intellect. She remembered Goethe's cynical
words, that finally the world would be bereft of all beauty, and each
one would be only his neighbor's benevolent brother.
Veneration for our great poet was an heir-loom in her girlhood's
home. Fierce was the conflict before she overcame the mighty coercion
of the master mind, but she gained at last that liberty which shakes
off the fetters of an undue veneration. She was convinced that even a
Goethe cannot give precepts for all time. Our age has made the unity of
human interests its law, and no longer tolerates a mere æsthetically
selfish life. Yes, out of a life devoted to the common welfare, springs
a new beauty of being.
Madame Pfann often met with rudeness and thoughtlessness where she
least expected it, so that her experiences were sometimes painful; but
she remained steadfast.
In her visits to the prisons, she refused to interfere in the least
degree with the course of the law. She only desired to comfort the
prisoners; to make them at peace with themselves; and above all things
she wished to help their friends who were left destitute at home. Here,
too, she had sorry experiences. Rascals imposed upon her, and amused
themselves in sending her on fruitless missions, and would even give
her directions whose baseness she could not suspect.
She knew that baseness and uncleanness existed, and yet clung to her
faith in greatness, nobility, and purity.
In the course of time she settled upon a regular method of talking
with the prisoners. She sought to learn of their early life, but she
found that they distrusted her motive, suspecting that she was seeking
to discover some crime which they might have committed, and she had to
contend with their cunning, which led them to tell her falsehoods.
Often, however, she succeeded in bringing the most hardened to
better thoughts and feelings, so that they spoke with tremulous voice
of the paradise of youthful innocence.
When Madame Pfann visited Landolin in prison, she found her task
easier than usual, for she had long known him and his family. He
quickly gave her to understand that he did not value her visit very
highly, as she honored the commonest prisoner in the same way.
He listened attentively for her answer, and was not surprised when
she replied, with a smile:
I cannot double myself when I visit you; but I will come oftener if
It now happened, as it often had before with prisoners, that
Landolin looked for her visit as a diversion, and that was something
Has Titus been here, and taken a look at the tower where I shut am
up? Or perhaps he has not wanted to see me. I'll say beforehand I won't
see him, said Landolin, angrily.
Madame Pfann saw that his thoughts were occupied with his rival, so
she said that no one should rejoice in another's misfortune, for every
one has his own secret sorrow.
Has he? Has anything happened to him? asked Landolin, eagerly.
The lady said: No! and then turned the conversation to his
childhood. He related his boyish pranks, and laughed heartily over
them; but still he censured his father for having yielded to him in
everything, except once when he wanted to marry the Galloping Cooper's
sister, for whom he had had a fancy. He even complained of his wife for
having always yielded to him. He said he was the most grateful of men
when any one kept him from his wild pranks, even though at first he
rebelled against the restraint. Then he stopped short. He was afraid he
had betrayed himself, and protested solemnly that he was innocent of
Madame Pfann asked, Would you like me to have some flowering plants
Landolin laughed aloud and said: I don't want anything with me
except my dog.
She promised to see that he should have it. She soon found that it
really was a very deep grief and trouble, that Thoma did not come to
Madame Pfann went to Reutershöfen, and listened patiently to his
wife's lament that her life was changed since her husband's hat hung no
longer on its accustomed nail. When Thoma came in after a long delay,
the kind-hearted lady was touched by her appearance, and told her that
she could well imagine her grief, in having been plunged in one day
from the highest joy to the deepest sorrow.
Thoma trembled. She had never before placed the two events so close
together. Madame Pfann felt the awkwardness of her remark, and
endeavored to reassure her by saying that she had no doubt that she
could adjust the difficulty with Anton, for he had great confidence in
her. Thoma soon became more composed, but she was still silent.
Madame Pfann urged her strongly to lighten her father's imprisonment
by visiting him.
You mean it well, I know, replied Thoma, you are very good, but I
cannot; I cannot go down the road, and up the prison stairs, and I
should be no comfort to my father, quite the contrary. It is better as
It is not better, only more comfortable, more easy for you; you
will not conquer yourself.
Thoma was silent.
Madame Pfann arranged for Tobias to take the dog to its master.
She then went to see Cushion-Kate, who called out:
You went to Landolin's first. I'll not let you into my house.
She bolted the door and Madame Pfann went quietly homeward.
The house is changed when the husband's hat no longer hangs on its
accustomed nail, the farmer's wife often said. Her thoughts were not
many, but those she had she liked to repeat like a pater noster.
When, on the morning after her husband's arrest she said this for
the first time, and was about handing Thoma the keys, Peter called out:
Mother, give me the keys; I am the son of the house, and I must
take the reins now.
If the stove had spoken they could not have been more astonished.
Peter, whom they had all looked upon as a dull, idle fellow, who did
only what he was told, and never undertook anything of himselfPeter
of a sudden gave notice of what he was and what he wanted, and even his
voice, generally heavy and drawling, became somewhat commanding and
energetic. In reality a transformation had begun in Peter. He ceased to
be taciturn and became almost talkative. His natural effort to aid his
father had called forth a latent energy, which no one, least of all
himself, had ever suspected, and which once aroused, continually grew
in strength. Other awakenings assisted in changing his trouble into a
joyous sense of courage; yes, almost of presumption. It was not only at
home, but in the whole neighborhood that people saw with astonishment
how his father's absence had changed him. The head-servant, Tobias,
smiled as he went about his work at the thought that he had had a hand
in helping Peter into the saddle. And, indeed, Peter was, literally,
much on horseback, riding everywhere on the bay mare, to tell the
people who were at the house congratulating Thoma at the time of the
accident, what they had seen. Some of them thought they knew all about
it; and some, on the other hand, declared they had seen nothing; for
they did not want the trouble of testifying in court.
Wherever Peter went the people said, No one knew that you were such
a smart fellow. Thoma used to be the only one talked about, just as
though there were no such person as you. Peter smiled craftily when he
heard this; he put on a grieved, troubled look, and shook his head, but
was nevertheless pleased to hear people add, Your father rather put
Peter was not unassuming; quite the reverse, for he looked upon all
men as his debtors. They had allowed him to grow up in simplicity and
honesty for three and twenty years without revealing to him how sweet
knavery tastes. But now, he was finding out for himself.
Look! Look! There comes Peter of Reutershöfen! was heard up and
down the mountain side.
Yes, people did not know what kind of a fellow he was; they thought
he couldn't count three; and now he turns out to be one of the sharpest
It was true; he had not been exactly a blockhead; but dull and
unsympathetic. And what had he now become?
It may, perhaps, seem unnatural, but nevertheless it was a
thoroughly logical development; he had become an accomplished
Once, at a fair, when Peter had taken an electric shock, a strange
something ran through his frame. He had very much the same feeling the
first time that Tobias said to him, We must act as though we had seen
everything so, and seem thoroughly honest about it, and then we shall
be able to make other people think so.
Peter discovered that hypocrisy was sweet to the taste; and that it
was no new thing for the world to feast on it.
Wherever he went people condoled with him over his misfortune, even
when he was quite sure they were glad of it.
However, he paid them in the same coin by pretending to be
excessively amiable. This helped to make him energetic; for the secret
pleasure and delight of making a laughing stock of others, animated him
anew every morning. He and Tobias made themselves merry over the trick
they were playing on the people, and on having succeeded in persuading
a few simple-minded persons, as well as some rascals, to testify as
they wished. Tobias gave his pupil this advice:
Now, you see, sharp people get along best in this world. They are
never cheated nor plagued. If you want anything of them, and knock at
their door, they pretend not to be at home. 'There is no one at home;
and I'm asleep,' as the old peasant woman called out to the beggar that
knocked at her door on a Sunday afternoon.
Only once was Peter worsted. He went to see Anton, and told him he
thought he had been very wise in breaking off with Thoma so promptly;
for now, as he was no longer related to them, he could be a witness for
Peter was not a little astonished to hear Anton answer that it was
Thoma who had broken off the match, and that it was hardly possible for
them to make it up again.
What? Will Anton refuse to tell him the truth? Is he so sly as to
try to keep up a false show before his brother even?
Anton's bright face darkened when he heard Peter's words. He saw
clearly through his scheme, and astonished him by replying that he
would tell no one how he would testify; that he had taken counsel with
his conscience, and would do as he thought right.
Notwithstanding this, Peter, with honest mien, confided to many
persons, under strict injunction of secrecy, the testimony that Anton
would give; and in this way persuaded some of them, for they thought:
Whatever Anton Armbruster says is certainly true.
It was with dismay that Thoma heardfor Peter made no secret of his
preparationswhat corruption he was spreading over the whole
neighborhood; but she could do nothing to prevent it, and had to keep
silent when her mother praised the good, kind people.
So the time drew near for Landolin to appear before the court for
which he had been selected as juryman.
The days, the weeks, came and went; the crops in the field grew
steadily; and the work went on in its usual good order, under the
direction of Tobias and Peter. They had hired a new servant in place of
Fidelis, who had left their service of his own accord, and had been
engaged by Titus.
The pine trees had put on their yearly growth; rye and early barley
were ready for harvest; and the hay was already cut and put away. Thoma
was the most active in all this work; but she spoke with no one, and
looked up astonished when the men and maid-servants sang as they went
about their tasks. Her face said plainly: They can sing, they have no
father in prison.
It was a bright summer morning. The farmer's wife was up before day,
for she wanted to see Tobias and Peter before they drove to the city.
After the servants who remained at home had eaten their breakfast,
and the dishes had been cleared away, she still sat at the table, in
the so-called Herrgott's Corner. Her hands were folded on the table
before her. She gazed at them wearily and sadly.
On a bench, beside the large stove in which there was no fire
to-day, sat Thoma at her spinning. Nothing could be heard but the low
whirring of the wheel, and the ticking of the clock on the wall.
Thoma, at length began her mother, you're right in not going to
the field to-day. My feet feel as though they had given way. Say, is
to-day Wednesday or Thursday? I don't know any more
To-day is Thursday, the tenth of July, mother.
And he is in court, on trial for his life. Look and see what
saint's day this is.
The calendar is hanging right behind you.
The farmer's wife seemed not to care to turn or look around. She
rubbed her hands hastily over her head, as though to keep her hair from
rising on end, and said, as if speaking her thoughts aloud:
So many people! I see them all, one after another, just as they
were when I was a little child, and they beheaded Laurian, on the
Mother! Don't talk so. We must control our feelings, whichever way
things turn out.
What! Can it turn out any other way?
Who knows? That is what the trial is for.
Surely there must be compassionate and just men there, who will
have pity. There are many who rejoice in our misfortune, but there are
more who mean well by us. Your Anton will testify for your father, and
will pledge his medal of honor for him.
More than that, added Thoma; but she did not explain what she
Will Anton persist in saying that he saw what her father told him he
did? Does he really believe that he saw it in that way? or will he ruin
his own life in order to save another's? She compressed her lips
tightly. She thought she must scream out for pain.
But her mother seemed to find it necessary to express her thoughts;
and again she murmured, half aloud:
What are the servants talking about, to-day? I am ashamed to go
among them, and I dare not say a word, for fear they will answer me
with insult and abuse. I hear that people from all over the valley have
gone to the city to-day, to see Landolin sitting on the prisoner's
seat. Yes, there he sits, and has to let the gentlemen of the court say
everything they can think of right in his face. And everybody rejoices
in it, and yet they themselves areGod forgive me! Yes, so it is, if
anything is wrong with oneself, one tries to find something wrong with
one's neighbor. There stands your arm-chair. Who knows if you will ever
sit in it again, and rest your strong arms and good hands! When will
the door open again and you come in? Hush! Listen Thoma! Don't you hear
something? There is some one at the door! I hear some one breathing. It
might be Cushion-Kate, or is itOpen the door!
Even Thoma could not shake off her fear; but summoning her courage,
she opened the door, and, with a sigh of relief, cried, It is Racker.
Come here, said her mother to the dog, coaxingly. Do you know
what is the matter with your master to-day? Will he ever see you, and
lay his hand on your head again? Yes, yes; look at me pitifully! If men
were as pitiful as you
You're right, mother, said Thoma at length. See, mother,
everybody on his way to the field to-day, fills his pitcher at our
well, as if there was water nowhere else. They look toward our house as
though they took pleasure in our misfortune. I wish I could poison the
well, so they would all die! I wish I could poison the whole world!
The mother longed to soothe her daughter, but dared not try. She was
thankful that Thoma at least spoke, instead of staring silently before
her. And now that Thoma had once broken her silence, she continued:
Mother, I want to go to the city.
You, too, will leave me?
Thoma explained that she would soon return. She only wished to
telegraph to Peter, to report to her the verdict as soon as it should
be rendered, and she would leave word at the telegraph office for the
messenger, the Galloping Cooper's brother, to wait all night for the
Her mother took up her prayer-book, and said: Well, you may go; but
don't hurry too much.
Come along, Thoma called to the dog, and, with him, hastened out
At the edge of the forest stands a pine tree, with its top bent
down. Some say that it was struck by lightning; others say a raven has
lighted there so often that his weight and the clutching of his claws
have broken it. But the strong-rooted pine grows on.
Is Landolin's house such a tree; struck by lightning, and bowed down
by dark sorrow? And will it flourish again?
Thoma stood in the road, and looked around, as though for the first
time she saw that the heavens were blue, and the trees and fields were
green. She had to exert herself to remember for what and where she was
Oh, yes, sighed she, and started away.
A narrow foot-path led over the hill, down into the valley, to the
city. To be sure she must pass Cushion-Kate's house; but why shouldn't
she? Nevertheless, Thoma, who before had been so strong and brave,
could not overcome a certain terror; as though, like the children in
the fairy-tale, she must pass a frightful dragon, lying in wait for her
at the mouth of his rocky cave.
To be sure Thoma is much stronger than the poor old woman, but, for
all that, it is hard enough to be obliged to conquer the crouching foe.
Or, may it not be possible to help the poor woman, who must suffer
even more than we do? In the midst of her bitter trouble, may we not
save her the necessity of working for her daily bread?
Just as I thought! There is Cushion-Kate sitting at the stone
door-sill; both hands pressed to her temples, and her head bent down,
so that the red kerchief almost touches her knee.
Did the poor creature know that this was the day of the trial? She
seemed to be asleep, and Thoma, holding her breath, walked noiselessly
along. But when she had come nearly opposite to her, the old woman
suddenly raised her head. Her eyes glittered, and she called out:
You! you! To-day is the day of payment.
May I not say a kind word to you?
Kind? To me? You? Go away or
She pulled out a pocket-knife, opened it, and cried: I too, can
murder! You are his child; and he was mine. Go!
As Thoma turned tremblingly away, the open knife, which the old
woman had thrown at her, fell at her side. She hurried down the hill;
and, until she reached the forest, she could hear loud moans and
screams behind her.
Cushion-Kate had been in the beginning a gay-hearted little woman
enough. A patch-work tailor's daughter, a patch-work tailor's wife, one
could almost say that her life was a patch-work of little gay-colored
scraps like her cushions. She was one of those placid, grateful people
who are thankful for the smallest gift of Providence, and who never
wonder why they too cannot live in abundance, like the rich farmers.
After she had drunk her chicory coffee, she went about her work,
singing like a thrush. And who knows but she put the same ease with
which she carried the burden of life into her cushions; for it was
acknowledged that they were the softest in all the country side. She
seemed to have entirely forgotten her sad birth. Now, a heavy
affliction had come upon her. Her last and only treasure was taken
away; and suddenly fear, bitterness and hate, and all the spirits of
evil took possession of her. Suddenly, as though she had awakened from
a sleep in a paradise of innocence, she perceived how miserable her
life was; and she hated every one who lived in prosperity, and had
children to rejoice in. Above all others, she hated the murderer of her
child, and his family. Her only thought and wish were that he and they
should suffer and be brought to ruin.
The poor old woman carried a heavy burden of sorrow and hate. Her
life had been darkened, and she only wished to stay until she had
avenged herself on Landolin. This was why she had been so sullen and
morose since her son's death.
Hate, anger and misery grew within her, and transformed her happy,
kind heart into a sad and wicked one.
In the summer garden of the Sword Inn, the linden trees were in full
bloom. The bees came, sipped, and flew away without asking for the
reckoning. But to make up for this, the finches sang without pay; and
the swallows circled round, as though dancing a figure in the air, and
sometimes shot after a honey-laden bee.
Everything rejoiced in its own way. It was a morning so full of
freshness, so full of enjoyment and exuberant life, one could hardly
believe that misery still existed in the world.
A horseman trotted up to the garden fence, stopped, dismounted, and
gave his horse to the servant, telling him to take it home and say to
his wife that if any one asked for him she might send him here; that he
would, however, soon be at home.
Good morning, doctor, called the hostess, from the veranda. You
have come just at the right time. We have this moment tapped a keg of
The physician had already heard that refreshing, enticing sound,
that deep thud when the spigot is driven into the keg, and that clear
sound when the bung is drawn.
The hostess brought him the first glass. He held it up to let the
sun shine through the clear amber liquid, and then drank it with
I had to go out before day this morning, all the way to
Hochenbraud, said the doctor, as he drained the glass; then said,
Give me another, for my twins. As he drank the second glass, he told
the hostess that he had that morning assisted at the advent of a pair
of twins into the world; two fine, healthy boys.
It is curious that something very extraordinary is always happening
to Walderjörgli. His first great grandchildren are twins. It is a
blessing that this strong, upright race should go on growing. They are
honest-hearted men of the old primitive German type.
They are shrewd, too, interposed the hostess. The physician went
on to say that the primitive Germans must have been crafty rascals, for
savages are always cunning.
But where is our host?
Of course he has gone to the trial. There is an actual pilgrimage
to-day. As early as half-past three this morning we had sold a whole
keg of beer. The witnesses went on the express-train. There were men
and women from Berstingen, from Bieringen, from Zusmarsleiten, from
everywhere, who had nothing to do with the trial, but went from
curiosity. They wanted to see Landolin brought before the court. The
station-master says that when a man is on trial for his life the people
throng to see his distress. He thinks that people will spare neither
pains nor money to gratify their desire to see the misfortunes of
others. But the district-forester says that the people go more because
they long for something new to break in upon the monotony of every-day
The cautious hostess gave this as a report, and not as an opinion of
As soon as the physician said: Both are true, she cried:
I am glad to hear you say so. It is pleasant when one gives
medicine to have the doctor come and say: 'that was right. I should
have prescribed that myself.' But I should like to ask you
What is it?
Do you think it possible for Landolin to be acquitted?
With God and a jury all things are possible.
Yes; but then, who killed Vetturi? For he is dead!
That question is not on the list.
The hostess went on to tell how Landolin's head-servant, Tobias, had
been talking that morning with every one, and cunningly instructing
them what to say. How he had said, with a laugh, that the life of such
a person as Vetturi was not of enough value to have a man like the
ex-bailiff imprisoned an hour for it. Tobias wanted to pay for what
they all drank; butand as she told the story, the hostess' face
became a flaming redshe had declared that each person must order her
to take pay from Tobias for him; then it would be known what was to be
thought of him and what might follow later. Some of them seemed to be
frightened at this hint.
The doctor laughed and replied that the rich farmer thought money
would do everything; and his son Peter, instigated by his father of
course, had offered to sell him their fine horse at a third of its
value. They wanted him to testify that Vetturi, who had suffered from
severe illness ever since his childhood, was weak and easily injured;
so that a fall on level ground might have killed him.
I am sorry for Thoma, began the hostess. She was such a stately,
fresh-hearted girl; and how well she and the miller, Anton, were suited
to one another. He, too, was here this morning. He is one of the
witnesses, but he staid in the garden, and kept looking at the medal of
honor on his breast. Do you think the trial will be finished in one
The physician could give no opinion, and the hostess continued:
Our dear good Madame Pfann was going to Landolin's house to spend
this sad day with his wife and Thoma. I advised her not to go now. They
will need her soon enough.
I don't believe there is another pure soul like hers in the world.
Why, she finds something pure hidden even in a man like Landolin. Our
Madame Pfann is a woman such as they had in the time of the Apostles.
Bravo! cried the doctor, I have seen a rare wonder: one woman
unreservedly praising another.
Yes; who can know the judge's wife and not praise her? But she
seeks neither praise nor thanks from anybody.
She needs none. He to whom nature has given the blessing of such a
good heart is the possessor of all human good.
The telegraph messenger came into the garden, and handed the
physician a dispatch.
I've got it now, cried the physician, when he had read it. When
does the next express train leave?
In seven minutes.
The physician explained to her that the defendant had called for his
oral opinion. He left word for his wife that he was called away, and
hastened to the station, where he met Thoma, just coming in.
Are you going too? asked he.
No; I just want to send word to my brother to telegraph me the
decision as soon as it is announced.
I will attend to that for you.
The train sped away. Thoma asked the telegraph messenger, who was a
brother of the Galloping Cooper, to wait all night and bring her the
dispatch as soon as received.
Thoma walked homeward. From the hill she could see the train in the
distance. It sped by hamlets and villages, through newly-mown meadows,
past fields where potatoes were being gathered in little heaps. The
passengers talked together about the flood which had done such great
damage in Switzerland; of the political questions of the day; of the
conflict with Rome. The physician heard it all as in a dream. It
troubled him that he had after all to testify in Landolin's case. How
could the defence hope for any advantage from his testimony?
The train stopped at the county-town. One of the court officers was
waiting for him with a carriage, and took him to the court-house. The
air within was damp and sultry.
Long before day the bell from Landolin's prison cell rang violently.
The keeper heard it, but did not hurry in the least.
You can wait, he said to himself, and dressed leisurely. He was a
tall, broad-shouldered man, of dignified and imposing appearance. He
had been appointed to his excellent position as a reward for bravery in
the war, and felt that he carried in his own person the whole dignity
of the court. He was gruff, but could, when he chose, be polite and
condescending; and he had a reason for being polite to Landolin.
Softening his powerful voice as much as he could, he asked what
Landolin wanted so early. It was scarcely day. Landolin gave him a
bewildered look; then he said,
I heard the early train whistle. The people from my village have
come in it. Go to the Ritter inn and bring my head-servant, Tobias,
here. It shall not be to your disadvantage.
I'm sorry I can't do that. You were bailiff yourself, and you know
what the law is.
Then call my lawyer.
It's too early.
It is not too early. I have a right to see my lawyer at any time.
All right, I'll bring him; but I advise you to compose yourself
to-day. If you get so excited, you will be a witness against yourself.
Landolin looked at the keeper as though he wanted to knock him down,
but he controlled himself. His face bore the marks of the battle which
he, who was formerly so self-willed, had been fighting for weeks, and
especially during the past night. Yesterday he had shaved off his full
beard, which had grown in the prison; and it was plain that he had
grown old very rapidly. The elasticity of his flesh, and the brown,
healthy color were gone; and his features were faded and flaccid.
Swallows twittered as they flew hither and thither about the grated
window. Landolin whistled a gay tune; and he continued whistling when
the key turned in the door, and his lawyer entered.
So gay already? said the lawyer; I hardly knew you. Why! What
made you cut off your beard?
Why? So the jurymen can recognize me.
Very good. Now what do you want?
The lawyer had not uttered a syllable about the early hour. His
relation to the accused was that of a physician to his patient.
Landolin, however, felt that he must make some excuse for sending for
him; and he asked to see the list of jurymen, so that he might
determine whom to object to, and whom to accept. First on the list,
which was in alphabetical order, was the name of the miller,
Armbruster, who had been summoned in Landolin's place.
The lawyer said that he had asked to be excused.
Hoho! cried Landolin. He is just the one I'll keep. Let him find
me guilty if he dares! We are not related, and our children are no
The next on the list was the lumberman, Dietler.
He wants to be released too, said the lawyer.
He wants to be released? So do I.
But he will be angry with us.
Then you must see that the government counsel keeps him on. Then
he'll be for us and against the other side. He has known me a long
time. I had almost said ever since wood was cut.
Landolin laughed. The lawyer smiled and looked at Landolin's wily
face in astonishment. One after another he struck off all the city
people, and the men of higher education. He wished to be tried by
farmers. Only one man from the city, the host of the Ritter inn, who
was a man ready of speech, was acceptable to him.
I won't have Baron Discher.
Why? He is a just man.
That may be. But he is an enemy of mine because I outbid him at the
sale of forest land. You will see, said Landolin in conclusion, Titus
will be the foreman. He hates me heartily; but I know him well. I know
that in order to make a grand impression on the rabble, and to give
vent to his insolence, and to show me what a great man he is, he will
say not guilty, and induce the others to say the same.
The lawyer was careful not to shake Landolin's confidence; and he
himself acquired new hope of a favorable result. As he was about
leaving, Landolin asked, drawing his hand over his eyes and forehead,
Is theIs his mother called as a witness?
The government counsel was willing to do without her. I was
surprised, but it was a good sign that he is not going to drive you to
the wall. A poor, bereaved old mother makes a bad impression on the
jury. He is not a bad man. He is, you know, a brother of your district
That won't help me any.
I think, continued the lawyer, I think, the government counsel
himself will recommend to the jury to find that there were mitigating
I will not have them find mitigating circumstances, cried
Landolin, his face reddening. You may in my name, by my authority,
refuse such a verdict. I know what that means. It is easy for a jury to
say guilty when mitigating circumstances are tacked on; but when it's
neck or nothing, they think twice before they speak.
Landolin, we are playing a serious game.
I know it.
Do you wish to address the jury yourself?
I don't know yet. I am afraid I should make some mistake.
You can tell me your decision in the court-room. You have the
privilege of speaking.
I never thought of it before. It's come to me since I have been in
prison. If I had my life to live over again, I'd like to be a lawyer.
The lawyer urged Landolin to try and sleep a little, for he had a
hard day before him, and must husband his strength. He would try to be
fresh and strong himself.
Landolin tried to sleep, but he soon sprang up again. A man may
sleep as much as he likes after he gets home, but now there is not a
moment to be lost. He rang the bell, and very submissively asked the
keeper to go for his son Peter, for he wanted to find out if the mother
Oh pshaw! The mother ofofof the poor fellow. Ask right out if
Cushion-Kate is here. And tell my son to give you twenty marks for the
For the saint's keeper? Where is he?
Are you so stupid? Or are you only pretending? The saint's keeper
is inside of your coat.
The grim keeper chuckled, and said to himself:
And just think of people saying that farmers are stupid.
He soon returned, and said that Vetturi's mother had not come, but
But what? Not my wife and daughter? I expressly forbade that.
No, not they; but half the village.
Did the saint's keeper get anything?
Yes, chuckled the keeper. The day had brought him a rich harvest,
both from those who were seeking to be dropped from the list of
jurymen, and had sought his influence with the different counsel for
that purpose, and from the people from the neighboring villages, whom
he had promised to let into the court-room before any one else.
Landolin was again alone. He visited, in fancy, the various inns of
the city, and the beer-garden near the station. He seemed to hear what
the people saidhow they could hardly wait for the time when they
might see him in the prisoner's seat. Nothing is thought of to-day but
whether Landolin will be sentenced to death, or to long imprisonment,
or will be acquitted.
Something that was almost a prayer passed through his soul, but he
did not utter it; for he could not escape the thought that Cushion-Kate
was to-day praying to God for his just punishment. He started back. It
seemed to him as though she, herself, had run against him bodily.
The prison door was unlocked. Landolin was led through along passage
to the prisoner's waiting-room. The doors and the windows of the large
court-room were open; bright sunshine streamed in; the room was
empty-soon it would be crowded. The two keepers walked back and forth
near Landolin. Loud laughing and talking could be heard from the street
before the court-house. Who knows what jokes they were making! Men can
still laugh though there is one up here whose heart would fain stand
still. Landolin's eyes glistened. He said to himself: After all I was
right in despising the whole world.
In the room in which he was now confined he could hear, as he
listened at the door, the tramp of steps through the long corridor. He
would have been glad to know whose steps they were. A confused sound of
voices reached his ear. At length he plainly heard the words My
father! It was Peter's voice. No doubt he had called so loud on
purpose that his father might hear him. Landolin felt as though he were
buried alive. He heard voices and could not answer them. His head swam
so that he leaned against the door-post.
The door was unlocked, and Landolin was led into the court-room.
His eyes fastened on the floor, with measured steps Landolin entered
the room. He seemed about to turn to the jury box, but the keeper laid
hold of his arm, and motioned him to the prisoner's dock.
When he reached it he straightened himself with a violent effort,
and looked calmly around; but he must have felt something like a veil
before his eyes, for he repeatedly drew his hands over them. He saw his
son Peter, who nodded to him, but he only answered with a slight motion
of his head. He recognized men and women from his and neighboring
villages; but Cushion-Kate's red kerchief was not to be seen.
He surveyed the jury with a keen scrutiny. He knew them all. They
all stared at him, but no one of them gave him to understand, by so
much as a motion of the eyelids: I know you and am friendly to you. The
miller was not on the jury.
Who is foreman?
Titus. A red and white variegated pink lies before him on the desk.
Now he takes it up and presses it to his large nose. The farmer of
Tollhof, called the jester, who sits beside him, hands him an open
snuff-box and says something. It is evidently, Landolin is very much
changed. Titus nods, takes a pinch of snuff, and sneezes loudly. The
host of the Ritter inn, who is seated on the front bench, turns around,
and says, Your health! and whispers something to the lumberman,
Dietler. Who knows that the fickle host has not abandoned Landolin as a
dead man, and commenced paying court to Titus! The other members of the
jury are most all well-to-do, comfortable farmersamong them
Walderjörgli's son, dressed in the old-time costume, with a red
vesthave folded their large hands upon the desks, and look steadily
The solemn, impressive ceremony of taking the oath is over; the
witnesses are sent out of the court-room; the charge is read. While the
reading is going on, the counselor drums with a large pencil on a
volume of the statutes before him. It may be he is gently playing a
tune, for he keeps perfect time. He is a young man with a heavy
moustache, which he smooths incessantly; and an unframed eye-glass,
attached to a broad, black ribbon, is fastened on his left eye. There
is something in the appearance of the counselor that suggests a
soldierly combativeness, and, in truth, he is an officer of the
Landwehr. The glance through the eye-glass, which sparkles strangely,
is often turned upon Landolin, and Landolin is uneasy under it. He
would like to say: Please put the glass down, but he may not.
Landolin's lawyer has risen to his feet, and leans on the railing of
the prisoner's dock. His hands are thrust in his pantaloon pockets.
Sometimes he turns his head and exchanges a few brief words with
The charge is manslaughter.
The witnesses are called; and before the first one appears, the
lawyer for the defense announces that he has telegraphed for the
district physician, for the purpose of obtaining his professional
opinion regarding Vetturi's frailty.
Landolin sat perfectly still, and looked at his hands. They had
grown soft and white in prison. Only when a new witness was called, he
raised his eyes and watched him narrowly.
The witnesses in favor of the accused spoke hesitatingly. They had
seen Vetturi fall on a heap of paving-stones, but whether the stone
that had been thrown had gone past him, that they could not say with
certainty. The blacksmith, from the upper village, was the only one who
was sure that he had seen it quite plainly.
Take care you don't commit perjury, called out the prosecuting
counsel. The lawyer for the defense arose in great excitement, and
earnestly protested against this intimidation of the witness. Even the
jurymen put their heads together, and whispered to one another. The
presiding judge said politely, but with marked decision, to the
youthful counselor, that he must leave such matters to him. The counsel
for the defense did not let this incident escape him; but made quite a
point of it, and it was some little time before matters moved on in
their usual quiet way. When Anton was called, Landolin's counsel asked
to have the district physician heard first, as he was obliged to leave
immediately. But the doctor's testimony proved to be of no importance.
Then Anton was called, and all eyes were fastened upon him.
The iron cross on his breast rose and fell, as he breathed deeply
To the preliminary question, as to whether he was related to the
prisoner, he answered in a tremulous voice, but in well chosen words,
that at the time of the accident he was betrothed to the daughter of
At this the government counselor moved that Anton should not be
sworn, but the counsel for the accused insisted that he should be. The
judges retired for consultation. They soon returned, and the presiding
judge announced that Anton Armbruster was not to be sworn. He added,
however, with impressiveness, that because of Anton's high character
for honesty, he should confidently expect him to tell the truth, and
the whole truth, with a clear conscience.
That I will do, said Anton. Every one held his breath, and
Landolin clutched the railing of the bench with both hands. Plainly and
readily Anton said that it was his conviction that Landolin had not
intended to kill Vetturi. Still, he could not say that he had seen the
occurrence distinctly. He had just stepped through the gate, holding
his betrothed's hand, and had no eyes for any one else.
He drew a long breath, and paused. The counsel for the defense asked
him if he did not remember what he had said to Landolin, on his return
from the unfortunate man's house. Anton replied that it was Landolin
who had spoken, not he.
With soldierly precision he answered each question, and ended by
saying that it could not be imagined that a man like Landolin, that a
father, would willingly kill a man on the day of his daughter's
Without looking toward Landolin, Anton returned to his seat, and
when there, he did not look up. His eyes glistened, and his face
When Tobias was called, he came forward with long strides, bowed to
the judge, to the jury, and most deeply to his master. He then said,
with the utmost assurance in his manner, that he would not have
believed that the good-for-nothing Vetturi, who was too lazy to lift a
sheaf of grain, could have been able to throw such a stone; but as good
luck would have it, the stone had fallen just at his master's feet.
Otherwise Vetturi would have been sitting in the prisoner's dock, and
his master lying in the grave.
The government counselor tried to drive Tobias into a corner with
questions, but he seemed prepared for everything, and gave smiling
answers; and at last, even said pertly, that he, who had been there and
seen it all, must know what happened better than the counselor.
Fidelis was then called. Some discussion arose as to whether he
could be sworn; as he had been Landolin's servant at the time of the
Landolin made a good impression by saying that Fidelis was a good
fellow, and would say nothing against him out of spite.
At these words of his master, Fidelis seemed disconcerted for a
moment, but he soon gave his testimony, briefly and succinctly; that
Vetturi had not bent over and picked up a stone, but that his master
had thrown one, and that it had seemed to him that it would hit his own
The counsel for the defense inquired if any one had spoken to the
witness regarding what he had seen. Whereupon the government counsel
rejoined that, if such questions were to be allowed, he should put the
question whether Tobias had not endeavored to persuade Fidelis to
Must I answer? asked Fidelis.
The presiding judge replied that he need answer neither question.
The examination of witnesses was now closed, and a pause ensued,
during which there was a final arming of the forces upon both sides.
It had grown dark and candles were lighted in the court-room. They
lit up first the judge's desk, then the jury, then Landolin and his
counsel, and at last the spectators, of whom not one seemed to be
missing; indeed their numbers had apparently increased.
It was damp and sultry in the room. The battle began.
The counselor's eye-glass glistened and glittered, but his speech
was plain and quiet. He seemed studiously to avoid any approach to
vehemence. He began with a strong statement of the unruliness and
presumption which characterized the servants of the present day; and of
their frequent dishonesty in the present instance. The jury nodded
assent. He was sorry to say that the guilt of the accused was very
plain. The pretext of self-defense he materially weakened, by showing
carefully and clearly that the defendant had only hit upon the
subterfuge as a last resort, when he could find no other. It was more
than strange that the stone thrown by Landolin, which was bloody and
easy distinguishable from others, had so soon been made away with;
while the one said to have been thrown by Vetturi had been found, where
no doubt it had been placed for that very purpose.
At these words Landolin shook his head violently. The counselor
paused for a moment, then continued composedly, that, as only justice
should be done, he would recommend a verdict of guilty of manslaughter,
with mitigating circumstances.
When he had finished, Landolin leaned forward to speak to his
lawyer, who rose and proceeded with persuasive eloquence to set forth
the perfect innocence of the accused. When he depicted Landolin's
uprightness and influence, Landolin cast down his eyes. It made a
strong impression when the lawyer raising his voice cried: Gentlemen
of jury! The accused was chosen as a juryman for this session of the
court. He should be sitting among you, and not here; and I expect from
your straightforward honesty he will soon be with you, shoulder to
shoulder; for he belongs with you. The one of you that feels himself
exempt from outbursts of anger which, against his will, might result in
an unhappy accident; the one that feels himself free from all natural
faults, let him throw the stone; the stony word, guilty. By the
authority of the accused, I refuse 'mitigating circumstances.' That is
merely disguising the deadly missile. I call for the verdict 'Not
A murmur ran through the mass of spectators, so that the presiding
judge threatened to clear the court-room if such disturbance were heard
again. In the profound silence that followed he gathered up the pros
and cons, and laid them in the scales before the jury. When he had
finished he asked Landolin if he had anything to say.
Landolin arose and bowed. He moistened his dry lips, and began:
Your honors! Gentlemen of the jury! II am guilty! Again a murmur
ran through the room; but the judge did not repeat his warning. He was
himself too much astonished at the words; and even Landolin's lawyer
involuntarily threw up his arms in despair. The counselor's eye-glass
sparkled more brightly than before, and his face had a triumphant
expression. When silence was restored, Landolin continued:
Yes, I am guilty. I deserve punishment, just punishment; but not
for that of which I stand here accused. I deserve punishment because I
was so soft-hearted and compassionate that I did not prosecute the
miserable fellow for his theft.
Gentlemen of the jury! You twelve men! It is terribly hard that
such men as you should be taken from the harvest-field to sit here
through a long, hot day! And why? Because of a miserable servant-man,
whose life is not worth twelve hours' time, of twelve honorable men
like you. I will not speak of myself, of my having to stand here. I
only say I should not have been so tender-hearted. Through that I have
become guilty of making servants ungovernable. For that, I deserve
punishment, for nothing else. Should I have quietly allowed him to kill
me? And is it likely that I, who forebore so long with him, sought to
kill him? Was I likely to place my wife, and my children, my honor, my
house, and my lands in peril for such a one as he? I will not abuse
him; he is dead. Landolin's voice trembled. He seemed unable to
continue. His counsel whispered to him: Don't stop there. Say again
that you are guilty. And Landolin cried again: I am guilty in not
having prosecuted the thief. Of that I am guilty, of nothing more.
Landolin sat down, and covered his face with both hands. He seemed
to be weeping.
The judge handed the foreman of the jury the list of points for
their consideration. They all arose, and Landolin was led to the room
set apart for the accused. On the way out his son pressed his hand;
they could neither speak a word.
Keeper, asked Peter, can I go with my father?
But I want to be alone, interrupted Landolin sharply, and the door
closed behind him.
He would have let Thoma in, but he does not want me, said Peter to
himself; and as other evil thoughts linked themselves to this one, he
grated his teeth.
The court-room and the long corridor were filled with people,
eagerly discussing the expected verdict. Some thought it well-advised,
others thought it fool-hardy, that the accused and his lawyer had
declined to accept a verdict with mitigating circumstances. They all
agreed, however, that Landolin's speech was a surprise, such as they
would probably never live to see again. There were some even who tried
to set a money value on it, and asserted that they wouldn't have missed
hearing the speech for such or such a sum. No one had dreamed that
Landolin was such an orator and actor.
During this time, Landolin stood at the open window of the
prisoner's room, grasping the iron grating with both hands. The keeper
brought wine. Landolin did not drink it, but he poured some on his
hands, and washed them with it; then turned again and started out into
the starlit night.
Although he felt the triumph that he had gained by his last words,
his knees were weary as if he had climbed over a high mountain, and
now, as it seemed to him, he was compelled to walk over a grave, yonder
by his home
A meteor shot across the heavens. Ah! if one could only believe that
that is a good sign!
The prisoner's room, and that in which the jury was locked till they
should agree upon a verdict, were only separated by one thick wall.
Have they been there long, or only a short time? From the towers of the
city twelve o'clock was tolled. Twelve strokes of the bell! The voices
of twelve men! said Landolin to himself. Yonder, through the black
night, comes a monster with two red eyes, ever nearer and nearer.
Landolin knows very well that it is a locomotive, but nevertheless he
starts back from the window in terror, and sits down in a chair. Hark!
A bell rings. It is not outside; it is here. The jury are ready. A
heavy trampling is now heard in the corridor, followed by an unbroken
silence. Landolin is sent for. With a firm step he mounts the stairs to
the prisoner's dock. He stands still; for he is saying to himself:
They shall never say they saw me break down. He looks at the twelve
men, but their faces seem to him to be swimming in a sea. Now, as
though emerging from the waves, they rise. The foreman, Titus, lays his
right hand on his heart, in his left a sheet of paper trembles and
Titus first reads the points that have been submitted to them. Oh,
how long that lasts! Why this repetition? Why not immediately say,
Guilty; or, Not Guilty? Now Titus draws a deep breath, and says:
The accused is pronounced not guilty, by six voices against six.
A blow is heard to fall on the statute book which lies on the
counselor's table. His glistening eyeglass falls down, and twirls
around on its broad, black ribbon, as if astonished.
The judges hold a whispered consultation; and the president rises,
and after reading the passages of the law bearing upon the case, says:
The accused is not guilty. Landolin! you are free.
Landolin sees gathering about him his lawyer, his son, Tobias, and
several jurymen and old friends. He sits on the bench, nods silently,
and tears that he cannot keep back roll down his cheek.
Father, don't weep; rejoice! cried Peter. But in a moment a
different cry is heard. The spectators had crowded noisily out of the
building, and announced the verdict to the many people waiting in the
corridor, on the stairs, and in front of the court-house. And now one
could hear loud cries of the murderer's released! then yells,
whistles, and threatening exclamations from the keepers and guards.
Wait until the mob has scattered, said the host of the Ritter, who
was one of the jury, you will put up with me. I have ordered a good
meal to be prepared for you and your guests.
Landolin had regained his self-command, and answered in a clear
voice: Yes; serve as good a meal as you can, and invite all the
jurymen. The other six are not my enemies. II will never have another
enemy in the world.
Father, I would like to give Titus a special invitation.
Do so. Didn't I say that for the few years I have yet to live, I
will be nobody's enemy?
And I will send a telegram to mother.
Do so, and say that I am all right.
The electric spark flashes over the wire, knocks at the station of
the little town where the stationmaster is still awake, and soon the
brother of the Galloping Cooper ascends the hill.
On this still summer night a current of fresh air streams through
the valley and over the hilltops. The ripe blades of wheat sway to and
fro as they draw their last breaths. All nature is silent, save the
river which rushes through the valley. The men are all resting from the
hard work of the harvest, to begin again with renewed strength at the
first glimmer of the morning sunshine.
Up the white mountain road moves a man who often presses his hand to
his breast pocket, as if to convince himself that he had not lost the
In Landolin's house a light is still burning. Thoma sits at the
table, and stares at the candle. Her features are changed by bitterness
and pain, and the lips that once so sweetly smiled, so warmly kissed,
are tightly compressed. Will those lips ever smile again; ever kiss
Her mother reclines at the open window, and looks out into the
Mother, said Thoma, you must go to sleep. It is past midnight;
and the doctor thought that the trial would scarcely be finished in one
The mother barely turned her head, and then looked out again. Is
Cushion-Kate awake, too, thought she.
Yes, she was awake, but she could not afford a light. Perhaps, at
the same moment, she was thinking of Landolin's wife. She has not
deserved such misery; but neither have I; and I have no one else;
nothing but this gnawing sorrow.
Suddenly Cushion-Kate straightened herself. She heard footsteps.
Have you brought anything for me? she asked the frightened
No! nothing for you.
For whom then?
For Landolin's Thoma, he answered, pulling out the blue envelope.
Do you know what is in it? asked Cushion-Kate.
I'm not supposed to know.
But you do know. Say, is Landolin sentenced to death?
I'll lose my place if you tell anybody.
I swear to you by all the stars I'll tell no one. I have no one to
tell. I beg of you, have pity!
Landolin is acquitted.
Acquitted? And my son is dead! Ye stars above, fall down and crush
the world. But no: you are fooling me. Don't do that!
You have sworn that you would not tell, said the messenger, and
hastened away. But Cushion-Kate threw herself on the ground, and wept
In the meantime the messenger had reached Landolin's house.
Do you bring good news? his wife called from the window.
I think so.
Thoma hastened down the stairs with the light, and returned quickly
with the open dispatch in her hand, and cried out:
Father is acquitted. Not guilty by the court.
The mother sank on her knees. It was long before she could speak a
word. At length she said, half smiling, half weeping:
He will sit there at the table, there on the bench, once more! He
will eat and drink there again! Wait, Cooper! I'll bring you something.
You must be tired.
Thoma drew her mother into a chair, and then brought food and drink.
Yes; eat and drink, said the mother. Why are you so silent,
Thoma? Why are you not happy? Eat your fill, Cooper, and take the rest
with you. Oh, if I could only give food and drink to the whole world!
Oh, if I could only awaken the dead, I would eat only half enough all
the rest of my life! He should have the best of everything. Praise and
thanks be to God! my husband is free; it is so good of him to send word
that he is well. Yes, no one understands his good heart as well
asCooper, go to Cushion-Kate, and tell her that I will come to see
her to-morrow morning. As long as I live I will divide with her as
though she were my sister. Tell her to be calm, and thank God with me.
It would not have done her any good if the verdict had been different.
Go, Cooper; go now.
The Cooper went to Cushion-Kate's. The house was open, but she was
not to be found.
In Landolin's house his wife said, Now we will go to sleep. Thank
God that your father can sleep again in peace. You'll see he will bring
Anton home with him to-morrow, and everything will be all right again.
Dear Anton certainly helped your father a great deal with his
testimony. He is so kind and good. God be praised and thanked,
everything will be all right again.
Everything all right again? said Thoma; but her mother did not
catch the questioning tone in which she spoke.
Cushion-Kate had hurried through the village to the pastor's house
near the church. She rang the bell violently. The pastor looked out,
and asked, Who is ringing? Have you come for me to take the sacrament
to a dying person?
Pastor, shrieked Cushion-Kate, tell me, is there a God in heaven?
Is there justice?
Who are you that dare blaspheme so? All good spirits praise the
Lord our God. Who are you?
The mother, the mother whose son was murdered; and the murderer is
Is it you, Cushion-Kate? Wait; I will open the door. The pastor
opened it, but Cushion-Kate was no longer there. He went to the
churchyard, to Vetturi's grave. There he found her red kerchief, but
she had disappeared.
In mad haste, as though driven by invisible demons, Cushion-Kate ran
through fields and forest, down to the river. There she stood, on a
projecting rock, under which the water boiled and bubbled as though
imprisoned. The whirlpool is called the Devil's Kettle. Cushion-Kate
leaned forward, and was about to throw herself in; but when her hands
touched her head, and she became aware that her kerchief was missing,
her self-control returned, and sitting down she said as she looked up
to the sky:
Mother, I feel it again. I, under your heart, and you, with a straw
wreath round your head, and a straw girdle round your waist,that was
the world's justice to the poor unfortunate. Mother, you are now in the
presence of eternal justice. Don't let Him turn you away! And Thou, on
Thy throne in Heaven, answer me. Tell me, why is my son dead? Why hast
Thou let the man that killed him go free, and live in happiness? Thou
hast given me nothing in all the world; and I ask for nothing but that
Thou shouldst punish him, and all those who acquitted him. Let no tree
grow in their forest, nor corn in their fields. Torment them; or if
Thou in Heaven above wilt not help me, then he, the other one, from
below, shall! Yes, come from the water, come from the rocks; come,
devil, and help me! Make a witch of me. I'll be a witch. Take my poor
soul, but help me!
A night-owl rose silently from out the darkness. Cushion-Kate
beckoned to it, as though it were a messenger from him whom she had
called. The owl flew past; a train of cars rushed by on the other side
of the river. Cushion-Kate shrieked, but her cry was drowned in the
clatter of the cars. She sank downshe slept. When the day awoke and
shone in her face, she turned over with a groan, and slept on with her
face to the ground.
Wake up! How came you here? called a man's voice.
Cushion-Kate opened her eyes, and drawing her hands over her
forehead, she moaned out, Vetturi!
No; it is I, Anton Armbruster. See, here is some gin. Come, drink!
Cushion-Kate drank eagerly, then asked:
Do you know that he is acquitted?
Yes; I have just come from the trial.
Oh, yes, cried Cushion-Kate, and she struck Anton on the breast
with her bony fist. Yes, you too are. They say you testified that
he did not do it.
Kate, you have a strong hand. You hurt me, but I forgive you. Kate,
I did not testify falsely. I said honestly that I saw nothing that
And why was he acquitted?
Because six men said not guilty. Come, raise yourself up. There!
The old woman rose to her feet. She held her left hand to her head,
and her dishevelled grey hair fluttered in the morning wind. She looked
around in bewilderment, and seemed unable to collect her thoughts.
Some one has stolen my kerchief from my head, she said at length.
Stop; it must be lying on his grave. Yes, he is in his grave, and the
man who brought him to his death is freeI understand it all. I am not
crazed. I know you. You are Anton; and your mother, in heaven, kept
your tongue from lying. Thank God, you no longer belong to that family.
They must go to ruinall of them. The haughty Thoma, too. Great God,
she cried, clasping her hands, forgive me! Thou art a patient
creditor, but a sure payer. You need not lead me, Anton; I can go
When Anton offered to accompany her, she motioned him back, and went
through the woods, over the hill, to the village, gathering dry twigs
on her way.
For a long time Anton stood gazing after her. He would so liked to
have hastened to Thoma, but he overcame the impulse, and wandered
For weeks Anton lived among the wood-cutters in the forest, high up
on the mountain. He was one of the most diligent workers, from early
morning until nightfall; and he was rewarded by having in the log cabin
such a sound sleep as he could not have had in his father's house in
the valley. To be sure, the wood-cutters thought it strange that the
miller's only son should devote himself to such hard work and
privation; but they asked no questions, and days often passed without
Anton's speaking a word. But he thought the oftener: How does Thoma
live? She cannot, like me, find a new place for herself. She must stay
at home, where everything awakens bitter recollections. Is she asked,
as I am, by every one she meets, why our engagement has been broken
off? And, like me, is she at a loss to know how to answer? Not the
smallest lie escapes her lips, for she is honest and truthful. She
demands that her father should confess what he has done, and submit to
punishment. But, can her father confess what, perhaps, he has not done?
It was plain and clear to Anton that he could not give a full
account of the occurrence. And when he was called before the court, he
gave his testimony strictly in accordance with the truth; for that the
stone had not hit Vetturi, he had only heard from Landolin, as he stood
at the spring.
He wanted to go to Thoma, after the trial, and tell her this; but
she had thrust him from her so unmercifully and unlovingly that he
could not humble himself again.
Does she not love him? Did she never love him? The perfume of the
lily-of-the-valley, which was just beginning to bloom up on the
mountain, reminded him of a blissful hour.
Anton had gone down from the mountain to the trial; and after his
meeting with Cushion-Kate, troubled thoughts filled his mind as he went
on his way home. He said to himself that he would no longer hide in the
mountain-forest; it was nothing but a cowardly flight. As he
acknowledged this, the medal of honor on his breast trembled. Does
Anton Armbruster fly from anything? He looked around with a fearless
courage. He was himself again.
How many years did he get? asked his father when he reached home.
Anton had to tell him that Landolin was fully acquitted.
The calm, thoughtful miller struck his fist on the table and
exclaimed: Well, that is. He suddenly broke off, went to the
window, and looked out. He did not wish to have a second dispute with
his son; and Anton's composed manner seemed to him to say that he
rejoiced in the verdict, and built new hopes upon it.
Father, I am going to stay at home now, said Anton.
That is right, answered his father, without turning round, and
you had better go to the river. We must send off a raft to-day.
Father, have you nothing to say about the acquittal?
What difference does what I say make?
Much, fatherit makes very much difference.
Well, then, I will tell you. It would have been better for the
cause of justice, and for the hot-tempered Landolin himself, if he had
been punished for a few years. But, mark my words, he must now suffer
much more for his crime. He needs now to be acquitted by every one he
meets. If he had submitted to punishment he would be better off. He
would have paid his debt to justice, and everything would go on
smoothly and evenly. In two years he would regain his civil rights and
his standing in the community. It was only a misstep. But how is it
now? And I believe Landolin is not tough enoughhow shall I say ithe
is not man enough to blot out the sense of his guilt from his own mind,
and from other people's. But, Anton, let this be the last time we
dispute about him. I don't deny that I have no place in my heart for
him; but we two need not, on that account, live in discord. It is time
for you to go now.
Anton went up the stream, and set himself busily to work, helping to
bind the logs and planks together into a raft. He who saw this
well-built man, handling the oar and boat-hook so energetically, and in
his quickly changing attitudes presenting such a picture of strong,
graceful manhood, would not have dreamed that he carried in his heart a
As Thoma was estranged from her father, so Anton was estranged from
his. Thoma and the miller were of the same opinion, with only this
difference; that in Thoma deep respect for her father had changed into
the opposite feeling; whilst with the miller, a deeply hidden
hostility, or rather aversion toward the haughty Landolin had only come
to the surface.
The acquittal made no change in the miller's feelings, except,
possibly, to intensify them; and perhaps it was so also with Thoma.
Still Anton hoped that matters would change for the better; and he was
continually studying how he could bring it about.
At the capital, the night following the trial was to be spent in
revelry and carousal.
When Landolin entered the chamber prepared for him at the Ritter
inn, he pulled off his coat, and hurling it across the room, exclaimed:
There! I'm rid of it! I've felt the whole time as if I had an iron
In the great dining-room, where the table was already spread, he
walked up and down in his shirt sleeves. The host said smilingly that
supper would soon be served.
Are the twelve men all coming? asked Landolin.
They were all invited, but they seem to have slipped into the
ground and vanished.
The first to arrive was Landolin's lawyer. He seemed far from being
elated with his victory; and in Landolin's manner toward him there was
by no means the same dependence and helplessness as before. Then
Landolin had treated him as a very sick man does his physician; every
word and every glance were welcomed as though fraught with healing. Now
Landolin was an ungrateful convalescent, who has come to the conclusion
that he has not been sick at all; or, at any rate, that not the
physician, but his own good constitution has helped him through.
You are right, said his counsel, you should have been a lawyer.
Your last words turned the scale. It was a master stroke.
Landolin accepted this praise as his due, and made no reply.
Call Anton! Where is Anton? said he, turning to his son.
When I was sending the dispatch I met him at the depot. He went
home on the freight train, which usually takes no passengers; but the
conductor is an old comrade of his, and smuggled him on board.
Landolin whistled, and walked hastily around the table, on which
they were just placing the wine-bottles.
Landlord, bring in the supper. Herr Procurator, take this chair
beside me. So, this is a different way of sitting down together. I
invited all the jurymen,all. I don't want to know who said guilty, or
who said not guilty. I don't want to have an enemy in the world. If
they don't comeall right. I've shown how I feel, and that's enough.
Landlord, let the witnesses come in, and anybody else that's there. Be
sure and call Tobias.
Tobias soon appeared. To be sure he had just eaten in the hostler's
room; but he wiped his mouth, as though he would say, If it's
necessary I'll do it again. So he sat down next to Peter, and fell
bravely to work.
The so-called common people who had testified now came in. This was,
to be sure, no company for Landolin, but he could not do less than give
the poor fellows a good bite and a good drink. He asked what the
witness fee was, and when he heard how small it was, he said he would
like to double it, but he dared not, lest it should be said that he had
tried to bribe them. By this speech he sought to ingratiate himself
with these people at no expense to himself.
Tobias nudged Peter with his elbow, and laughed and drank. Peter
cast a look at him as though he would like to tear him to pieces, then
quickly controlled himself and joined in the laugh. His face wore the
expression of a young fox who has just caught his first hare, and is
feasting upon it.
Among the guests were some who had been Landolin's companions when
he was young; and they strove to divert him by reminding him of his
wild, youthful pranks. Landolin laughed and drank immoderately. The
lawyer did not find it congenial, so he slipped quietly away.
Landolin's eyes often fell upon the empty chair at his side, but he
looked quickly away. Suddenly he called out, Take away that empty
chair! Who the devil is going to sit there? Take it away! Away with
it! He jumped up and overturned it with such force that all the four
legs were broken.
You oughtn't to do that father. Be quiet! whispered Peter,
sternly, and roughly grasped his father's arm.
Let go! I'm all right, said Landolin, quieting down. Come,
Tobias, come with me! Indeed I have not drunk too much to-day, but I
have gone through so much that its almost upset me. Here, Tobias, let
me lean a little on you. Good night to you all. I hope you will get
home all right. I shall soon follow you.
He went up to his room with Tobias, and as soon as he got there he
caught tight hold of Tobias' arms and cried:
Be still! I won't hurt you. Not you! You haven't deserved it. Do
you know what I long for? Do you know what I wish?
How can I know it?
I'd like to have one of 'em between my thumb and finger, like this,
soHutadi! I'd like to snap and crack his arms and legs. I'd like best
to get at Titusor all of the sixthey ought to have been
Let me go, master, begged Tobias, for the grip of his hand was far
from gentle; and I advise you to keep quieter. You can say anything
you like to me. What we two have got through together, can't be
The situation dawned upon Landolin. He, the farmer, was reproved by
his own servant.
All right, all right, he muttered and soon fell sound asleep.
It was almost noon when Landolin awoke. He prepared for his journey
home, and paid his bill. It was very evident that the landlord had
cheated him. He was greatly vexed at being taken in by this plausible
fellow, but he did not want an open quarrel. The thought that, for some
time to come, he must allow himself to be cheated without daring to say
anything, worried him more than the loss of his money. He now wished to
return home immediately, and enter the village in triumph; but Peter
put off going until near evening; for he did not want his father to
reach home until after dark; and when Landolin swore at the unnecessary
delays, Peter said, coolly and meaningly:
Father, you will have to give up fussing and spluttering so. I
should think you would have learned, by this time, to keep quiet and be
patient. Yes, you may well stare at me. I am no longer the simple
Peter, over whose head you looked, as though he didn't exist. I am
here, and you and I have no secrets from one another. Self-defense is a
nice thing, butwell I guess you understand me. Of course I have great
respect for you. You drove the cart well, and Tobias and I pushed at
the hind-wheels. The cart is out of the rut, and now we'll wash our
Landolin looked at his son as though another man were standing
before him. Peter noticed it, and continued:
Yes, father, I've found out what the mainspring of the world is;
and I know that it's all one what a man does. He can do what he likes,
if he only keeps other people from knowing it. Am I right, or not?
Landolin was so astonished that he could not utter a word. Who dare
speak to him in such a way? Can it be Peter! But something still worse
followed; for Peter began again:
Now, see here, father; before we go home we'd better have matters
settled. You are the farmer; you are the master. And before the world
you may appear as you always have; but at home, in house and field,
only my word must be obeyed. You may be sure that you shall want for
Where is Tobias? asked Landolin, gnashing his teeth.
You needn't halloo so; I'm not deaf. I sent Tobias home before us;
and I might as well tell you at once, that I shall dismiss him soon. He
knows too much, and puts on too many airs. Moreover, I intend to send
away all of the servants. I'm going to lay a new foundation.
Landolin kept silent, but smiled. He was incensed at Peter's
impertinence, yet he could not repress his delight that his son had
become so fearless and resolute.
I could almost be proud of you, you have changed so, he said, at
length. And Peter cried exultingly:
That's right. You shall see that I'll do everything right; and that
I'll do the right thing by you. I find that we've been losing a big
pile of money in speculation, but that's past and done with, and I'll
say nothing more about it.
Landolin kept his wrath down, and thought: Just wait till we get
home, then I'll talk to you differently.
Father and son spoke not a word after this. A wagon was waiting at
the depot in the city; and Landolin asked his wife, who with tears in
her eyes came to meet him: Where is Thoma? He was told that she would
Landolin thought to himself: I am acquitted, but my children.
My son wants to depose me, and my daughter will not even come to meet
In the meadow near the station was an unfinished platform, and
though it was twilight, the men were still hammering busily.
What are they doing? asked Landolin; and before an answer could be
given, he continued: I remember, when I was a child, that a scaffold
was built there, and a man beheaded on it. Beheading is not the worst
thing in the world.
Oh! husband! replied his wife. What strange thoughts! Peter,
don't you know what they are doing?
Certainly; certainly. Next Sunday the soldiers have their
As the wagon drove past the garden of the Sword inn, a number of
ladies and gentlemen were looking down from the veranda. Landolin
raised his hat and bowed, but no one returned the salutation; and, for
the first time in his life, he tasted the bitter experience of
stretching out his hand in greeting, and of finding no hand ready to
No one had returned Landolin's greeting from the veranda of the inn.
To be sure the judge's wife, who sat near the railing, looked an
acknowledgment, but that could not be seen at the distance. More she
dared not do, for they were having a full meeting of the members of the
Casino, a society or association of the people of rank in the city,
which met the first Wednesday after each full moon. Several members
from a distance were there; the Catholic priest; and the only
Protestant pastor of the district, with his wife.
The conversation naturally turned upon the monstrous verdict of the
previous day. The corporation-attorney said that he was glad he had
declined to defend the case. He could well imagine the surprise of
Landolin's counsel when his client was acquitted. Of course, in such
cases, a lawyer feels bound to make use of all possible dialectic arts
and strategies, but still, when successful, he must feel the recoil of
The school-teacher, whom but few knew to be the editor of the weekly
paper, The Forest Messenger, complained in a disheartened tone
that this verdict of the overbearing farmers would necessarily
intensify the hate existing between the different classes; for the poor
man felt that he had no rights. It was high time that the choice of
jurymen should no longer depend upon the length of a man's tax-list.
The attorney coincided with him, but went even farther, and asserted
that it was an old prejudice of liberalism, that the ordinary mind
could render a just verdict.
The judge nodded to him, and he continued, somewhat vehemently: I
now understand the legend of Medusa. The uneducated class is such a
head. If a man should look into its face, he would turn into stone
before its horrid visage, so wild, so malevolent, so false, so furious.
Our much vaunted German nation is not yet ripe, either for universal
suffrage, or for the right of sitting on a jury. Indeed, since we have
obtained what we have so long and ardently desired, the German wave in
the tide of morality is sinking away. Our German people are not so
great as we believed and hoped.
The judge earnestly protested against this assertion, and insisted
that although there were undoubtedly deplorable indications, still the
wave was beginning to rise again.
The physician, who still clung to the old ideal of his student
daysan ideal always mingled with a profound hatred of
Metternichcame bravely to the judge's assistance, by declaring that
the influence of the profligate times of Metternich is still felt; for
our people persist in the belief that everything that our rulers
propose to do is wrong and tyrannical; and applaud when the law is
evaded, or a criminal slips through without punishment.
In conclusion the physician could not refrain from giving the
lawyer, who, while he really had a contempt for the people, belonged to
the so-called radical wing of the liberty party, to understand that his
party was greatly to blame for the disorganization of the popular mind,
by its carping depreciation of the great and good things which had
actually been accomplished.
The clergyman agreed that the foundation of all the mischief lay in
the weakening of religious belief; but the schoolmaster was bold enough
to assert that in the boasted days of unshaken faith there was much
more wickedness in the world than now.
The discussion was apparently about to be taken up with the subject
of religion, which was strictly forbidden in the Casino. But the
Protestant minister's timid, quiet wife, happily turned the
conversation, by asking, during a slight pause:
Are there not more offenders who are undetected than are ever
brought to justice?
No one seemed to care to answer this question, and the young lady
blushed deeply at the silence that followed her words, but at length
the schoolteacher took pity on her, and said, with a smile:
It is quite impossible to give an exact answer to your question;
but it is probably much as it is with the aërolites. Two-thirds of our
planet is covered with water, consequently two-thirds of the aërolites
fall into it unnoticed; and of the last third, which falls on dry land,
not all are found.
This bright and skilfully devised figure led the company back into a
more agreeable frame of mind.
The school-teacher, who liked to deal in generalities, continued:
I would like to present another subject for consideration. It would
be profitable to inquire in what different degrees, truthfulness,
whether due to nature or education, is found to exist in different
nations. This department of statistics would, I grant, be the most
The problem was not discussed; for the stationmaster entered, and
said that Landolin's wife had come with the carriage, and that Landolin
was expected by the evening train. Again the conversation turned upon
Landolin. The old district forester, who, until now had not spoken, but
had been steadily smoking his long pipe, said in his strong, grave
Nothing can be more pernicious than that the best and most
universal belief, the belief in justice, should be shaken, or quite
destroyed. Public opinion will and must rebel against the verdict in
Landolin's case. The conscience of the people is still too strong and
pure. But the very fact that the popular conscience condemns both him
and the jury, undermines all stability.
The forester had scarcely finished speaking when the train arrived.
Landolin soon drove past. The company had risen from the table, and the
physician stood beside the judge's wife.
These two shared the noblest of vocations, and often met in their
common work of aiding the unfortunate.
Do you think, asked the lady, that the innocent young people,
Thoma and Anton, can now be happily united?
The physician shrugged his shoulders, and she continued:
I was going to Landolin's house, but our hostess advised me not.
But now I think it is time to do something, and that I can be of
benefit to them.
You had better wait a few days, at least, counseled the physician.
You know a wound must bleed awhile, before it is allowed to heal.
Besides, I am inclined to think that affairs have undergone a change.
At first Landolin yielded an unwilling consent, now the miller will be
obstinate. I should not be surprised if in the end the young people
I think I can prevent that.
With a polite bow the physician replied: Faith is supposed to be
able to remove mountains. I have great confidence in your faith. But
The piano struck up in the next room. A portly, merry Catholic
priest sang with strong tenor voice; and presently the young wife of
the Protestant clergyman was persuaded to sing a duet with him.
Joyous songs, sung by sweet voices, floated out into the moonlit
summer evening, and all dissension and all misery seemed to be
It was a source of vexation to Landolin that the people of rank of
the Casino did not notice him; and as their wagon went slowly up the
hill, he said to his wife, with unaccustomed tenderness:
We'll not concern ourselves at all about the world, but be happy in
having each other and being together again. Nobody cares for a man as
his own family does.
His wife looked at him in astonishment, and her careworn face shone
in the clear moonlight. She was not used to such affection from
Landolin, and she had never known that he felt any need of sympathy.
Is Thoma ill? he asked, after a little while.
No, only frightened, and angry about Anton. She goes around for
days without speaking a word; but she works busily, and eats and drinks
as usual. To be sure, she doesn't sleep as she should. I made her sleep
with me; but she would not lie in your bed, and I had to give her
Everything will come around all right now, said Landolin. For his
part, he thought it strange that his wife, contrary to her usual habit,
had so much to say; but he wanted to hear more, so he asked:
Has the prize cow a bull calf?
Yes; coal black, with a white star on its forehead, and stout
hoofs. Didn't Peter tell you that we were going to raise it?
As for Peter, who sat on the front seat driving, his sides shook. He
was evidently laughing.
Landolin, who had striven against the temptation, at last yielded,
How does Cushion-Kate get along?
His wife did not answer, and Landolin repeated impatiently, Don't
you hear me? Didn't you hear what I said? I asked how Cushion-Kate was
Don't scream so! You have changed very much.
It's you, not I, that have changed. Why don't you give me an
Because I have none to give. Last night Cushion-Kate was not at
home. Early this morning she came back, and lit a fire for the first
time in many days. She must have been at the grave yesterday, for the
pastor found her red kerchief there, and sent it to her. Since then she
has disappeared again; and her goat cries terribly, for it has had no
fodder. The poor animal
What do I care for the goat! I don't know how it iseither
everybody is crazy or I am crazy myself. Is this my forest? Are those
my fields? To whom do these horses and this wagon belong? Say, am I
If you go on in this way, you'll make both me and yourself so. For
God's sake, don't torment us both! What do you want with Cushion-Kate
His wife had scarcely uttered these words, when Cushion-Kate rushed
out of the forest, and grasped the horse's reins.
Let go! cried Peter. Let go! or I'll drive over you.
Hold still! said Landolin. Kate! I mean well by you.
But I don't mean well by you. They didn't cut off your head. They
didn't hang you. You shall hang yourself. There is your forest, with
thousands and thousands of trees. They all wait for you to hang
yourself on them.
Oh, Kate! come here to me, besought his wife. But Kate continued
to pour terrible execrations.
Give her a cut with the whip, cried Landolin; give it to me; I'll
No, father, I'll fix it, said Peter; and springing down quickly,
he pushed Kate to one side; then, mounting again, he drove rapidly up
Landolin's wife looked back, and drawing a long breath, said: Thank
God! she has sat down on those stones. Some one has come up the hill,
and is speaking to her.
When they reached home, Peter cracked his whip loudly, and drove
through the open gate to the house. A strange servant brought a chair;
Peter helped his mother out, then turned to assist his father, who
Never mind! I'm still able
He stood again on his own ground. No sound of welcome was heard,
save the barking of the chained dog.
The bright moon lit up the square yard, which was neatly paved, and
entirely changed in appearance.
Who made these changes? asked Landolin.
Thoma had them made, replied her mother.
Landolin understood it. She desired for her own sake, and perhaps
for his, that the place where the murder was committed should be no
Again I say, God keep you, and I bid you most heartily welcome,
said his wife, in a tone full of emotion. May the years that are still
granted to you pass in peace!
There, there, that will do, responded Landolin. He went to the dog
and unfastened his chain. The dog leaped up against his old master, and
ran round and round about him, wild with joy.
That's a good dog, said Landolin. Be quiet. You know me, don't
you? They said my hands were covered with blood; but you don't smell
anything wrong, do you? The only faithful thing in the world is a dog.
The tears on his wife's cheeks glittered in the moonlight, and he
said, turning toward her,
Go in first!
No, you go first, you are the master. It was just such a night as
this when we came home for the first time after our marriage; then you
went first into the house. It seems like a wedding again.
She held out her hand for him. He gave it to her, and hand in hand
they went up the steps. As he entered the room, she sprinkled him with
holy water from the basin that stood at the door.
There was no one in the room but an old servant.
Where is Thoma? asked Landolin.
She is in her bedroom.
Tell her to come here; that I have got home.
I called to her through the closed door, but she did not answer.
Landolin seated himself in the great arm-chair, and his wife gave
thanks to God that her husband sat there once more. She had often
doubted that he ever would again. Landolin looked at her, and it seemed
to him that she reeled to and fro, and that the room and furniture were
all in motion. He straightened himself with an effort, went out on the
porch, and knocked at Thoma's door. Nothing moved.
Thoma, I am here, your father.
The door was unbolted and Thoma stood before him. In a constrained
voice she said: Welcome, father!
Have you nothing more to say to me?
You never liked people to talk much.
Landolin took his daughter's hand, which she had not offered him.
My child, do you no longer love me?
I should never ask a child such a question.
My child, I am a poor man; as poor as a beggar. Do you understand
Thoma shook her head, and her father continued:
I have sinned against you all, especially against you; but now I
beg you to forgive me. Don't let me perish. His heart beat so fast
that he could not speak another word. As Thoma still remained silent,
he turned quickly away, and went with tottering steps to the
living-room. He listened to hear if Thoma would not follow him; but he
He looked at the table in the living-room, and asked:
Is that a new table?
No, but Thoma had it planed because the holes were there.
Landolin remembered having stuck the fork in the table.
Steps were now heard. It was not Thoma, but the pastor, who came.
His words were kind and comforting, but Landolin stared at him blankly.
True, he saw him, but he heard him not; his thoughts were with his
daughter, who was so terribly changed. It was not until the pastor
mentioned Cushion-Kate, and said that she had grown wild and
uncontrollable, and talked most blasphemously, that Landolin paid any
attention to what he said. And when the pastor added that it seemed as
if Cushion-Kate had gone crazy, he cried:
There are insane asylums for such people. She should be put into
one. The town can pay for it.
That's not so easily done; the district physician will have to
Thoma had unexpectedly appeared, and brought in the supper, which
she had had prepared. The pastor started to leave, but upon Thoma's and
her mother's entreaties he remained. They needed a man of peace to
bring quiet and concord. The meal-time passed cheerfully, and Landolin
ate ravenously. During a pause, he asked: Herr Pastor, is neither the
young bailiff nor any of the councilmen at home? It would be no more
than proper for them to call. They must have known that I was coming.
The pastor seemed to find no answer, and Landolin's wife spared him
embarrassment by reminding her husband that he had said that he would
no longer concern himself about other people.
When the pastor took his leave, Landolin accompanied him
respectfully. Pausing before the house, the pastor said in a low tone:
Give me half.
Half of what?
When you were in prison, did you not vow a hundred times that when
you were released you would give liberally to the poor and the church?
Give me half, or a third, or a fourth.
Herr Pastor, you're joking. It is too soon for me to joke with
If you change your mind, you know where to find me, said the
pastor. As he turned away, Landolin looked after him scornfully.
He went to the well and drank of the water that poured swiftly from
it. As he wiped his mouth, he said to his wife who was looking out of
Nothing in the world quenches my thirst so, and makes me feel so
well and fresh as water from our own well.
Come in, it is bed-time.
Landolin strove to think of something else than that which, against
his will, forced itself upon him; and asked his wife after they had got
to their room:
Is there nothing new? Hasn't anything happened all this long time?
No; at least not much. The old Dobel-Farmer was so badly hurt,
unloading a wagon-load of wood, that he died. Perhaps you heard of it.
The government has bought the Dieslinger farm for a forest. The owner
of the Syringa farm is married again. In Heidlingen they have a new
minister. The former one tried to make his church Old-Catholic, as they
call it; and the Improvement Society, as they call it, has laid out a
new road near our forest. The superintendent, the good old General, has
often been here, and asked after you.
Thus his wife went on.
Who came to see you oftenest while I was away?
My brother. But there were a good many other people who came to
condole with me. I wouldn't listen to their pity, so after awhile they
Didn't the miller ever come to see you?
No; not once.
That's just like a Dutchman. He won't go unless he's pushed.
To-morrow I'll straighten matters between Anton and Thoma. I'll go and
see the miller.
Don't do that. Don't try to hitch up so fast. You understand what I
mean. You know when a man wants to turn a wagon round, or back his
horses, he can't do it on a gallop.
Aha! thought Landolin, she's trying to be smart. Everybody thinks
they're smarter than I am.
As Landolin was silent, his wife continued: Now, you go to sleep.
The quiet did not last long, for Landolin tossed back and forth on
his bed, and sighed and groaned.
What is the matter? Aren't you tired?
Oh, wife, I can't make it real that I am not alone; and that the
sword no longer hangs over my head. I see the counselor's glittering
eye-glass on its black ribbon all the time. Indeed, you haven't your
old husband any more. You have anotherand I can't abide the fellow,
he's so soft-hearted. I wish you would often remind me not to care for
what other people think. They have forgotten me, and I'll do what I can
to forget them. Only you must be very patient with me; but don't give
up to me, and don't let me be so soft-hearted.
The strong man wept bitter tears in the depth of the night, and
called out, almost with a curse:
May my eyes run out if I ever weep again, as long as we two live
together! I make this promise to you, and to myself. Others cannot
embitter my life, if I do not embitter it myself. Yes, yes!
His wife lighted a candle, and tried to comfort the self-tormented
man. He said, at length:
One thing more. Cushion-Kate called after me, that I must make away
with myselfI won't do that, for your sake.
His wife stroked his hand, wet with freshly-fallen tears.
I won't give people the satisfaction of thinking we need sympathy.
Leave the candle burning; and then, if I wake up again, I shall know I
am no longer in prison. Good-night, we'll go to sleep now.
He slept until late in the day. His wife rose gently and went about
her work, carefully avoiding the least noise that might wake her
husband. She blessed every moment that brought him sleep and
exhilarating strength and health.
Thoma was still in the harvest field when Landolin came into the
living-room. His wife sat down beside him, and he said:
You can't think how different food tastes when one has to eat it
alone, in prison.
Don't let your thoughts run back to that all the time.
Has any one been here to see me?
No. But remember what you said last night.
Yes, that was easily said; but Landolin could not help thinking of
the people outside, and how it could be possible that they were not at
least curious to look at him again.
He looked out of the window. Heavily laden grain-wagons passed by,
but no farmer, no servant, so much as gave a glance toward his house.
The new bailiff came up the road, steadying the wagon with his
pitchfork. He had evidently seen Landolin from a distance; for, not far
from the house, he walked to the other side of the wagon, where he
could not be seen.
Landolin drew back into the room, and seating himself in the great
arm-chair he drummed awhile on its arms, then went into the bedroom and
pulled on his high boots.
You're not going out? said his wife. He looked at her in
astonishment. This questioning, this observation of all he did or left
undone, was distasteful to him. He was about to say so to his wife, but
checked himself, and explained that in prison he had worn slippers, and
he felt like putting on his boots again, and going out.
The cracking of a whip was heard in the yard.
It was Peter on the saddle horse, driving the four-horse
grain-wagon. Landolin went out, and met Thoma with sunburnt face
following the wagon. For a while she looked at her father in silence,
as though she could find nothing to say. Her look was severe and
Good morning, Thoma.
Good morning, father, she replied. A milder frame of mind seemed
to gain predominance as she looked on her father's care-worn face, but
she threw back her head as if to shake off the gentle feeling. Now that
father and daughter met in the clear light of day, they seemed
unfamiliaryes, almost strange in appearance to each other. To Thoma
her father appeared smaller in size than she remembered him; and the
self-confident, defiant expression of his face had become uncertain and
On the other hand Thoma had grown stronger, prouder, more erect in
her carriage; her eyebrows seemed to have sunk lower; and between them
deep, narrow wrinkles had been traced. These are furrows from which a
bitter harvest springs.
Good morning, master, was the greeting of the head-servant Tobias,
in a confidential tone. You will find everything, the stock and the
fields, in good condition.
Landolin only nodded. So Peter had not yet dismissed the
head-servant; perhaps he will not do it.
Landolin spoke to the servant who had been taken in Fidelis' place;
and asked him, condescendingly, from what district he came, and in
whose service he had previously been. The servant answered
respectfully, and Landolin was reassured. Peter had evidently not
announced that he was now to be master, and Landolin was almost
grateful for this deference, which in reality was simply what was due
to him. He went through the stables, and found everything well cared
for. A maid, who was singing as she filled the racks with fresh clover
for the cows, did not stop her song when she saw him. He looked at her
in astonishment, and asked at length, Why do you not speak to me?
Because I've hired out to the Gerlach farmer, and the other two
maids are going too.
Peter has dismissed us; but we would have gone anyway.
Landolin went into the yard again, and while he unfastened the dog's
chain and patted him, he said,
You'll not forsake me, will you? He pushed the dog's jaws apart,
to look into his mouth. You must be happy! they have broken out my
teeth. I can bite no more, and people are no longer afraid of me. Come;
hold still, while I put a spiked collar round your neck. I must have
something of the kind for myself.
He went in and sat down in his arm-chair. The dog lay on the floor
beside him. Strange! The chair is not so easy as it used to bethe
seat is hard, the back too straight! But, notwithstanding this,
Landolin forced himself to stay quietly at home. He felt sure that
somebody or other would call, if only as they were passing. He
frequently looked toward the door; but it did not open, and no one
Finally, when evening drew near, he went out of doors.
Only a few months ago a strong man had crossed this threshold. He
was now changed, and the world was changed, particularly his own
household. During his absence he had constantly thought how merry it
was at home. And yet there was nothing merrier there than quiet,
uninterrupted work; and he himself had always been a stern, morose man,
before whom every one in the house, save Thoma, trembled. To be sure
Thoma had always been light-hearted, and perhaps that was why he
thought the whole household merry.
With downcast gaze Landolin went up the road. His present frame of
mind was the most injurious a man could be in, and highly improper for
a farmer. He was irritable, and, as is always the case with irritable
people, he was weak and helpless, and trusted to external causes to
bring him new energy and incitement.
As he raised his eyes he saw, at some distance, a woman with a red
kerchief approaching him. Is that Cushion-Kate? Should he turn back?
He called the dog nearer to him; but it was not Cushion-Kate; it
was a stranger.
See! There comes the Galloping-Cooper. He was walking faster than
usual, and as he hurried by he said Good evening carelessly, and
without waiting for a response. Landolin stood still, looked back after
him, and shrugged his shoulders contemptuously at the beggarly man, who
once, if he wanted to borrow a log of wood for barrel staves, could not
find submissive words enough. Not another chip shall you have from
me, said Landolin to himself as he walked on. He had now reached the
bailiff's farm. The watch-dog rushed out at Racker; but as soon as he
saw the spiked collar he fled. Racker started in pursuit of the coward;
but Landolin called him back. The bailiff, who was sitting astride a
block of wood, mending a scythe, must certainly have heard him, but he
did not look up; and not until Landolin stood in front of him and
spoke, did he stop hammering. Then, running his fingers along the edge
of the scythe, to see if there were any notches left, he said:
Back again, eh?
As you see. Down! Racker. The dog had been standing perfectly
still beside him; and it seemed as though he visited upon the dog a fit
of anger which something else had provoked. It galled him that the
bailiff should speak so disrespectfully, neither offering to shake
hands, nor rising; but he said with a forced smile:
I only came to tell you, and you may announce it generally, that I
shall not be a candidate for councilman for this district at the
election; and that I resign my office of judge of the orphans' court.
All right. I'll attend to it.
Landolin stared at the young bailiff. Is that the way to speak to
him? Must he put up with that? And not dare to get angry and give blow
for blow? Yes, Landolin; you are no longer feared. Curb your passions,
and learn to rule yourself.
After a long pause, during which Landolin struggled against his
indignation, he said abruptly:
Good by, was the dry answer.
Landolin walked away, and the bailiff went on hammering his scythe.
But the strokes fell faster and faster; for he thought exultingly that
he had treated Landolin as he deserved, for having brought scandal and
dishonor upon the whole district. Had not Landolin acted as though he
could still lay claim to something? Now, I think, he'll know what his
But Landolin only knew that the whole world was hostile to him, and
begrudged him his life.
Good evening, Mr. Ex-bailiff. Thus he was suddenly accosted.
He looked up and saw a rough-looking young man of sinewy make
standing before him, and taking off his hat. Disordered, bristly hair
fell over his forehead into the unquiet, black eyes, that wandered
restlessly here and there.
Who are you?
The ex-bailiff does not remember me? I am Engelbert, the shepherd
of Gerlachseck. I have been waiting for you.
You'll surely take me into service now.
Where do you come from?
From down there.
The vagrant made a motion toward the plain. I had three years. If
my master had been good to me, and had not prosecuted me
So you are just out of the Penitentiary?
The man nodded, and smiled in a confidential way.
And why should I, in particular, take you?
Well, just because it is so. Of course, after this, your servants
will have an easy time. You'll get a new set throughout, and you'd
better have me to watch the rest.
The veins swelled on Landolin's forehead, but he concealed his
annoyance, laughed aloud, and called out in a commanding tone:
March! How dare you speak to me so? Off with you, or
Oho! So you want to murder another man. You can't finish me as
quickly as you did Vetturi.
He put on his hat and clenched his fists.
Without speaking another word, Landolin went on, while the vagrant
called after him with threats and insult.
The evening bells began ringing. Landolin nodded, as if greeting the
sound, or as though he felt they were calling him. He took a roundabout
way, so as not to pass through the church-yard where Vetturi's grave
The church stood open. Landolin took off his hat, ordered the dog to
lie down and wait for him, and was just putting his foot on the
threshold, when Cushion-Kate came out. She gave him a look that made
him blench; then she caught the heavy church-door, and dashed it to
with such force that it fairly groaned. And louder yet the terrible
For you the church is closed. Raise your hand! Here, at the church
door, kill me! You are equal to anything. You are rejected by God, cast
out by men. You
The dog had sprung up. His master quieted him, and the old woman
Landolin opened the door and entered the church. All was silent
within, save the pendulum's measured tick, far up in the tower. A bird
had flown through the open window. It fluttered about, affrighted,
until it found the opening again, and Landolin was alone in the vast
edifice, where the ever-burning lamp alone shed its light. No prayer
escaped his lips. Rather, in imagination he gathered in the whole
congregation, men and women, one by one, to their places. In
imagination he took hold of each one, looked him in the face, and shook
himbut what good did that do? They still hated him. Cast out, as a
dead body, by the stream! Cast out. All the empty benches repeated
Hate of the God of whose compassion he had been taught in his
childhood, grew within him. It is not true, and if it were, what good
does it do for God to be pitiful, if he does not force men to be
A sudden terror seized him, as though the roof were falling, and he
left the church and went home.
Has no one been here? he asked his wife when he reached home. She
said, No; but he did not answer her question as to where he had been
and with whom he had spoken. His wife's curiosity and idle questioning
were disagreeable to him. She saw that he did not value her love and
care, but she was patient. For she thought she was not wise and clever
enough for him, and resolved to be very careful in everything she did
or said. But in the goodness of her heart, the very next moment, she
tried to talk to him and cheer him, and that annoyed him. For it showed
that the past was still in her thoughts; and that he did not like. She
took special pains with his supper, and said: Eat heartily, now that
you are at home again.
It does no good to wish that, he replied, if it doesn't taste
good of itself.
He waited and waited for a kind word from Thoma, but her strict and
cruel truthfulness forbade her to give him one. She was dissatisfied
that her father, in his weariness, and the humility which he had gained
by a violent effort, should be so indulgent with Peter. Day after day
she saw him taking upon himself the sole control of affairs, and her
father permitting it. Yes, he even worked like a servant, and seemed to
take satisfaction in being tyrannized over by his son. Everything was
transformed and changed.
The determined, steadfast Landolin had become a coward. He despised
himself for it, but that did not mend matters. His lips were always
tightly compressed, and their bitter expression became habitual. Often
he would stop suddenly while walking along. He felt that he must draw
his breath: he was almost smothered by the thoughts that lay so heavy
upon him. Then he looked around beseechingly, and went on his way. How
rich he had been before! He had had an outstanding capital of honor
with every one; and now, when he wanted to draw upon it, it was no
longer there. Strictly speaking, he had thought neither well nor ill of
other people, he was indifferent to them; but now things had changed.
His power of thought had lain fallow; and now upon this fallow land all
manner of weeds, whose seeds had lain unsuspected in the ground, made
their appearance. He had lived and had had an acute mind, especially
when an advantage for himself was to be gained. But now, it seemed as
though he were half asleep. Stop! What are men to you? What do you care
for this one and that one? What does one gain in life, after all?
Plowing, sowing, and reaping. The forest trees grow, long after the man
who planted them has become a clod of earth. Is it for this that a man
gives himself so much trouble and thought? Yesgives thought. That is
what is hard for a man who, until now, has not had it to do.
When the soul comes to a spot where harshness, and selfishness pass
step by step before its eyes, then it is difficult for it to turn back
and take another path. It seems as if irresistible forces drive it
along the path of grief and bitterness, and yet all the while a longing
to meet with friendship and responsive love grows stronger and warmer
Landolin felt something of this emotion, although he probably could
not have given it utterance. But in the soul there is much that is
unutterable, even for a far more thoughtful and meditative nature than
The man who was formerly strong as iron, had become unnerved, and
one could conceive of nothing which could happen to renew his strength.
Perhaps Thoma's love could have accomplished it. Perhaps! Certainly, he
said to himself. There were even times when he not only mourned that
this love was denied him, but was yet more deeply grieved to see his
child, his proud, beautiful child, bent with sorrow, and her life left
waste and bleak. He had nurtured a pride and severity in her, which now
threatened her destruction. In his distress he groaned aloud, and
submitted to Peter's dominion as if to a penance; indeed, though
Peter's boldness was so serious an offense, it often extorted his
He will some day be the man to trample the whole world under foot,
and laugh as he does it. He will be more powerful than Titus himself.
Landolin resolved to dissemble and play the hypocrite; to act as if
he mistook people's malice for good will, and to retaliate secretly.
But his pride was incompatible with success in hypocrisy. He was
annoyed at his own lack of courage, he very candidly called it
cowardice, but still that did not help him to regain the old
fearlessnessthe old pride. Yes, he had become over-sensitive.
His walk had now brought him to the forest, with its overhanging
branches. In other times how little he had cared for the noxious
insects of the woods. He had not grown up with gloved hands, but now he
shuddered at the caterpillars that hung in the air by their slender
threads, as though they were waiting to drop down upon him. These
caterpillars can be shaken off, but the world's malicious thoughts,
that like caterpillars hang everywhere by invisible threads, cannot.
Landolin was sitting on an old tree-stump, when the game-keeper
approached, and addressed him in a friendly manner, expressing his
sorrow that Landolin had had to undergo so much trouble. Landolin
complained that in the short time, he had grown twenty years older, and
suffered with a constant palpitation of the heart.
Suddenly he paused, for he became aware that he was begging for
sympathy. And from whom? But the game-keeper responded,
I know myself how a man feels the half hour that the jury are out,
and he is waiting for the verdict of life or death.
How do you know about it?
Have you forgotten my shooting the poacher? He had his piece
leveled at me from behind a tree. Crackcrack. It is self-defense!
There you lie, said the game-keeper, with a crafty smile.
Landolin went home fortified. It was self-defense. The court has
acknowledged that it was, and it was so. I must learn to keep that in
mind. I must.
The summer night was mild and clear. A Saturday evening in
harvest-time has a peculiar quiet, a premonition of the full day of
rest after the six days' unceasing work.
At all the farm-houses, far and wide, the people sat on the out-door
benches and talked of the harvest; of how much was already stored away,
and of how much was still standing in the fields. Then they talked of
their neighbors far and near, and of course of Landolin also. They
spoke pityingly of his misfortune, but with a certain quiet
self-congratulation that they themselves were free and happy. It was
almost like breathing, upon the mountain, air purified and freshened by
a thunder-storm in the valley.
Soon with weary steps they sought their beds; for in the morning
young and old were going to the celebration in the city.
Landolin and his wife were sitting on the bench before his house.
Thoma sat at one side on an old tree-stump, where the men often mended
These three had so much to say, and yet spoke so little!
So to-morrow is the fifteenth of July, said Landolin. Thoma looked
around, but turned quickly away, and again seemed buried in her own
The dedication of the flag was to take place the following day. One
might imagine that years had already passed since the day when Anton,
with his two companions, came to ask Thoma to be maid of honor. Thoma
was unselfish enough not to think first of the pleasure and distinction
she would lose, but she sighed sadly when she thought how dreary and
sorrowful the day would be for Anton.
What do you think, Thoma, asked Landolin; shall I go to the
celebration, or not?
I have no opinion as to what you should do, or not do.
Will you go with me? said he, turning to his wife.
I would like to, but I'm not well. I'm so chilly, I think I'll go
right to bed.
Thoma wanted to go into the house too, but her mother refused, and
insisted that she should remain with her father.
Her mother went in, and Thoma felt that she now ought to talk with
her father; but she couldn't think of a word to say. Every pleasant
word appeared to her to be a lie, and the bitterness of her fate lay in
the fact that there was a lie to contend with. It distressed her to
pass her father by, at home and in the field, in silence, or with only
a cold greeting, and now to sit so speechless, and force him to think
of their trouble; but she could not do otherwise.
Landolin said that her mother was more ill than she was willing to
admit, and that it was evidently hard for her to keep up. Thoma tried
to quiet his fears; but her words sounded as hard as stone, when he
said, But that is a matter where the doctor can help us.
And I know something that no doctor can prescribe, which would make
your mother strong and well again.
Landolin had to wait long before Thoma asked what it could be, and
he explained that the joy which her wedding with Anton would give her
mother was the remedy. Thoma said, in a hollow voice,
That can never be, no more thanshe stopped suddenly.
Well! No more than what?
Thoma gave no answer, and Landolin knew that she would have
saidNo more than Vetturi can live again.
A well-known voice suddenly broke in upon the silence which
Good evening to you both!
Anton stood before them. Landolin arose and held out his hand. Thoma
kept her seat, and wrapping both arms in her apron, said only Good
Landolin made room for Anton beside him, and told Thoma to come and
sit on the bench too. But she replied, I am quite comfortable where I
am; besides, I must go in to mother. She is not at all well.
You will stay here, said Landolin, in his old commanding voice.
Then he explained to Anton that he would have liked to go to see his
father, butand it was hard for him to say thishe did not wish to be
obtrusive; and so he waited for people to come to see him. He thanked
Anton for his favorable testimony at the trial, and said, that he was
glad that he had kept his conscience so clear.
When I saw you standing there so resolutely, and heard you speak so
firmly, I loved you twice as much as before, he added.
Anton understood what it meant for the proud and arrogant Landolin
to speak in this manner.
Hesitatingly, at first, and then in well-considered words, Anton
explained that he had come to beg father and daughter to go with him to
the celebration; that would show the whole world at one stroke that
everything was all right again, and everybody would congratulate them
No word, no motion showed that Thoma had heard him. Anton continued
in a tremulous tone:
Thoma, dear Thoma! You sit there as though you were frozen, but I
know that deep in your heart, love for me is still burning. Thoma, for
this once throw away your pride.
Pride? said Thoma, in a low voice.
Anton did not hear her, for he went on: Thoma, you turned me away.
I too am proud, but not with you. I have come back again. Show yourself
as good and loving as you really are. Give me one single wordone kind
I thank you, Anton. I thank you a thousand times; but I cannot.
Good night; I thank you.
No! You shall stay here, and I will go, cried Landolin, as Thoma
turned toward the house.
Anton, for my part, I amBut settle matters alone between
He hastened into the house. Anton and Thoma were alone.
You need not speak, Thoma. Give me a kiss, and that will say
I cannot. Anton, 'tis hard for me to talk. I would far rather be
dumb, and unable to speak. Anton, it's good and kind of you to come.
But tell me,you are honesttell me, does your father feel toward my
father as you do? Is it not true,you can't say yes?you are here
against his will. Your father
My father honors and loves you.
I believe that. But, Anton, I can never be happy again, nor bring
happiness to others. I beg of you strike our house from your mind. One
blow will be enough to destroy it.
Oh! Your house still stands firm. Thoma, you were right. On that
day I did not know what I saw or what I heard; but now that is all
past. Thoma, I know you. Your heart is honest, and I cannot blame you
for it, though it gives you much sorrow. Thoma, you cannot appear to be
happy before the world, because you are not happy. Say, do I not
She nodded, suppressed sobs were heard, and Anton continued:
Darling Thoma! I tell you, you can and must be happy; and that
without telling a lie.
I can't rejoice in stolen goods. Thoma forced herself to say.
I understand. I know what you mean. But your honor and my honor are
not stolen. I beg of you, be good, be kind. I beg the wicked Thoma to
trouble my good Thoma no longer. You exaggerate.
Perhaps so. Thereyou may take my hand for the last time.
I will not take it for the last time.
Then I say good night; thank you a thousand times!
Anton tried to throw his arm around her, but she tore herself away,
and hastened into the house.
He waited awhile to see if she would not relent; but as all
continued silent, a spirit of defiance awoke within him, and he went
away without turning around, though he sometimes paused and listened to
hear if any one were following or calling him. At length he disappeared
in the forest.
There is still merriment in the world; song, music, and laughter.
Joyous, singing, laughing people drive along the plateau in wagons
decorated with flowers and green boughs. They are seen and heard from
Landolin's house; he nods to them from the open window; he is in
holiday attire and has decided to go to the celebration, and take part
again in the world's gayety. Turning, he said to his wife, who sat in
Hanne, Thoma won't go; can't you go with me?
I would rather you'd let me stay at home.
Landolin would have liked to say, If you are with me they will pay
me more respect; but he could not bring himself to say it. He had
humbled himself before the humblest; but before his wife he could
notshe had always been so submissive to him. He often looked toward
Thoma and wondered if she would not tell him what had passed between
her and Anton the day before; and if she would not go with him to the
celebration; but she remained motionless and silent. He ordered the
wagon to be hitched up immediately; but Peter said that the horses had
worked so much in the harvest-field during the week that they would
have to rest to-day: at most the bay mare might be saddled, but that
wouldn't be wise. Landolin looked at Peter furiously, but he did not
want to quarrel with him; for, as long as they did not disagree openly,
it was not noticeable that the authority was no longer his. So he
consented to ride, but soon changed his mind and said he would go on
As the church bells began to ring, he started for the city. Won't
you go to church, too? asked his wife timidly. He answered angrily:
No! They have sung and prayed thus far without me. I guess they can
keep it up awhile longer.
This he said; but he thought besides: They must treat me kindly
before they can pray with clear conscience.
Won't you wait till afternoon? I have something nice for you, said
You are always talking about eatingbeginning about dinner
already! I have money in my pocket, and shall get myself something in
His wife made no answer, but pressed her prayer-book to her bosom.
There are no more good thoughts in the book than in her heart, but both
are now dumb.
As the bells were ringing for the third time, Landolin went down the
road toward the city. A rider was trotting along after him. He came
nearer. Landolin lifted his hat and said:
Good-morning, Baron Discher. I owe you an explanation.
I did not know it.
I refused you as a juryman, through my attorney. I know you are a
I only refused you because it would be pleasanter for you not to
have to sit on a jury in such hot weather.
The Baron laughed and held the knob of his riding-whip to his mouth;
then he said, Good-morning, gave his horse the spur, and rode on.
A presentiment of the reception he was exposing himself to came over
Landolin. He wanted to turn back: there was no necessity for his
presence at the festival; but he was ashamed for his family to see him
so irresolute. Peter is, then, in the right in having taken the reins
from his hand. He went toward the town with long strides. Gunshots
echoed, multiplying themselves in the wood through which he was
passing, for the dedication of the flag was just beginning in the
Landolin moderated his step; indeed he sat down on the side of the
road; he had already missed the chief solemnity, and could take his
ease. The coach came up from the railway station. The driver asked
Landolin if he would ride. Landolin was tired, and it was a good
opportunity for returning; but he refused as if something drove him to
the city. He laughed at himself as he recollected that in his childhood
the May-meadow had been a place of execution. What can happen to him?
He is acquitted, free, and in all honor.
Now clear trumpet-notes sounded from the upper town. Landolin
hastened his stepsnot to miss the procession.
Up and down the valley, in all the villages of the district, there
was busy life on this Sunday morning. The children on the street
announced to one another that they too were going. Not a few were
exceedingly proud, for soldiers' caps had been given them; and many a
father was persuaded into promising his son that he would buy him one,
too. The youth of the whole district seemed to have caught a martial
enthusiasm. The men of the fire-companies, in glittering helmets, gray
linen coats, and red belts, assembled before the court-house. They
formed in line, the signals were sounded; and they marched out,
accompanied by an escort of men, women, and children. They stopped at
the forest to put green twigs in their caps. The children shouted, the
old people walked thoughtfully along, and the maids and matrons, in
their Sunday dress, whispered to one another.
As the little mountain-rivulets flow down to the river in the
valley, so to-day, the stream of humanity rose, and flowed down the
roads and foot-paths, to the May-meadow near the city.
But there were few of the old peasant-costumes to be seen among the
men. Military service and the railroads do away with that, and efface
the many distinguishable differences between village and city. But in
still another manner a new ground of equality is established. This
marching side by side, and especially the election of the officers of
the soldiers' associations and fire companies, bring about an
equalization or readjustment of the former classification. To be sure
the captain of the organization was the district forester, but Anton
Armbruster was unanimously chosen lieutenant; and the son of the
district physician, who was a merchant, and a member of the
association, had cast his vote for Anton.
Landolin reached the valley in good season. The May-meadow on which
the procession was to disband, where tables were arranged, and a green
platform put up for the speakers, was kept clear by the young pupils of
The women and young girls, with their white aprons and gay caps, sat
in rows and groups in the outer meadow near the forest, and some daring
boys had climbed the linden trees, which to-day sent out a strong
They are coming! They are coming! was heard among the waiting
crowd; and the music of the trumpets at the head of the column was
drowned by the hurrahs which arose from the people on the hollow slope
of the meadow, and in the trees.
Landolin stood on the edge of the crowd, near the students, and was
surrounded by a group of people who seemed not to know him.
The procession drew nearer. The band struck up one of the national
hymns, and all the people joined in singing.
Who is carrying the flag? Why, that is not the miller's
Antonwhere is he? I don't see him. He isn't there at all.
These words Landolin heard from the people behind him, and a feeling
of terror came over him. He had intended to walk by Anton's side, and
show the whole world on what friendly terms he was with the man who was
so highly honored. Now Landolin felt as though his protector had
forsaken him. He strained his eyes to see if Anton was not there after
all, but he was not to be seen.
See the lieutenant there. That is the son of the district judgeit
was good of him to get a furlough to come to the celebration. Yes; he
has inherited his good disposition from his parents; his mother in
Thus the people around Landolin were talking. Then he heard a person
who had just come up say:
Do you know why Anton Armbruster did not come? He is ashamed,
though he hasn't done anything to be ashamed of; but Landolin, whose
acquittal was such an atrocity, was to be his father-in-law. Aha! There
stands Landolin himself! That man there with the broad back, that's
Landolin's broad back moved. The cordon of students was broken, and
he found himself in the midst of the festivities.
High up in the mountain forest, near the log-hut where the
woodcutters lived from Monday morning till Saturday night, Anton sat
this Sunday morning. About him lay axes, and wedges of iron or ash, as
if resting themselves. For the men who used them had all gone down to
the valley to spend the Sunday at home with their families, or perhaps
at the celebration in the city. No sound was heard save the occasional
twitter of the wren who was just brooding. All the other birds were
mute, and the hawks circled in silence over the treetops. A drowsy odor
of pitch from the felled trees and split wood rose from the ground on
which the weary, tried young man had slept. A cannon thundered, and
Anton awoke and felt at his side for his gun. He imagined for a moment
that he was lying in the field before the enemy; but he smiled sadly as
he reflected that the enemy he had to combat was no visible one, who
could be mortally wounded. It was not a cannon which had awakened him,
but a mortar from the city, where the flag was being dedicated. Anton
drew a deep breath and his face lighted up as though he were being
greeted by hundreds and hundreds of his old comrades, as though he held
the many faithful hands that were stretched out toward him. But he soon
looked sadly down before him. He had not only destroyed the celebration
for himself, but had robbed his companions of a great part of their
pleasure, by sending a messenger early in the morning to say he could
not be with them. What did his companions' love profit him, when the
love of the one for whom his heart beat was wanting? What did he care
for a joy or an honor that Thoma did not share?
He stood up. There is yet time. He can yet hasten to join his
comrades, and though late, he will be gladly welcomed. He rejected the
thought, and gave himself up to painful questionings and fancies. Would
he find happiness in anything again? He had humbled himself before
Thoma, and she had scornfully spurned him. He had done what he could to
set matters right again. Perhaps Thoma will be softened when she sees
that for her sake he avoids the most enticing pleasures. She knows what
he suffers, but what must she suffer!
Thoma was not in the solitude of the forest, she was solitary and
forsaken in her father's house. She, too, heard the report of the
mortar, and she asked herself if Anton was at the celebration, honored
and happy. No, it cannot be. She mourned deeply that she had been
forced to destroy and fill with sadness this day, and all the coming
days of his life. She remembered in terror that she had yesterday said
to Anton: I cannot rejoice in stolen goods. Is it then so hopeless?
Had not the words escaped unguardedly from the depth of sorrow? She
almost envied her mother, who could sleep all day long. She must stay
awake, and harbor such bitter thoughts in her soul.
What will happen to her father at the celebration? Will he, rebuffed
on all sides, allow himself to be drawn into committing a new crime?
With folded hands, staring fixedly before her, Thoma sat in her
bed-room, till at last her heavy heart was lightened by a flood of
Thoma was not curious to learn why Peter was talking with his mother
so long, nor would it have given her pleasure had she known, for he
Mother, hereafter you mustn't let father roam around the world this
way, and I'll help you keep him at home. We've helped him through, and
that's enough. He must be quiet now, and not keep people gaping at
The mother looked at Peter sadly, as though looking at a stranger.
Peter understood the look to mean something quite different, and
We've got the upper hand now, mother; but we won't make a noise
about it. Before, you weren't accounted anybody; neither was I. 'Twas
always the farmer and Thoma; we two were never spoken of. Now help me.
You can do it smoothly as a wife can, and I'll be quiet about it too.
Not a soul shall notice that I control the farm. But, on the other
hand, you must see to it that he doesn't roam around any more. Of
course he's told you that he lost a great deal of money in stocks.
However, that's past and over with. We won't say a word of reproach to
him about it, but I'll guarantee that he shan't squander any more.
Is our whole house bewitched? said the mother, speaking her
thoughts aloudIs our house no longer a home? Where shall I go?
Mother, you mustn't talk so, nor look at it that way. I am here,
and you shall see what I'll do. Good fortune has followed us for your
sake. Wherever I've been, people say, 'Yes certainly, Landolin must be
helped out of his trouble, for Johanna's sake.'
Not for my sake, exclaimed his mother. Your father is innocent,
and he proved himself so; nothing is due to me.
Of course not, and everything is all right. And besides, now let me
tell you something. That Tobias is an unfaithful rascal. I shall only
keep him through harvest; then I'll send him away. He may claim that it
was he who lied father out of the scrape, but that won't help him; on
the contrary he must learn that we don't fear him. Father was acquitted
at the trial, and no appeal can be taken from that. I asked the
After an astonished silence his mother asked,
What did you say? Your father is no longer master?
Yes, mother; don't you think I've managed it cleverly? Not even you
have noticed it. He thought, too, that I ought to keep Tobias; but I
The mother and son sat a long time together in silence; but at
length she said, Take the wagon and go to meet your father. I feel as
though something would happen to him; I am so frightened.
Very well, mother, I will do as you say. I'll go, but I don't know
whether I can find him or not.
Yes, go, for heaven's sake, and be a good boy. I will try and get a
Peter went; but he soon turned down an alley to a tavern where they
were rolling ten-pins. Here he enjoyed himself highly, winning a good
sum of money from the woodcutters of the upper forest, and from some
half-grown boys; for Peter was an adept at ten-pins.
Landolin was suddenly in the midst of the crowded meadow, and the
first person that he hit against was the one-handed man who had been
his substitute in the army.
Come here, I'll give you something, said Landolin, putting his
hand into his pocket. The one-handed man hesitated to reach out his
left hand, but at length he did it; for he couldn't bear to refuse a
gift, although he was earning good wages, especially just now; for
Anton had bought him some pictures of the heroes of our day, which he
was hawking about, and he well understood the art of praising his
wares. Titus watched Landolin as he gave the man something, and their
eyes met, but neither greeted the other. Titus was of the opinion that
Landolin should speak to him first in a very humble manner; and
Landolin expected the man of unsullied honor to make the first
Landolin saw Fidelis. The servant who had formerly been in his
employ, passed by as though he didn't know him; perhaps he was annoyed
that his master had been acquitted notwithstanding his damaging
testimony. Landolin was inclined to speak to him and be friendly, but
he heard Titus call him (for Fidelis was now in his service) and say:
Enjoy yourself as much as you canyour honor is without a stainand
I will pay for what you eat.
The maids of honor with wreaths on their heads went past, walking
arm in arm. Their number had evidently been increased. They were the
daughters of the district forester, of Titus, and of another farmer;
but what would they all have been beside Thoma, had she been there?
The men shook hands and congratulated one another upon the pleasant
day and the fine celebration. Landolin rubbed his cold handsno one
had touched his handwas there blood sticking on it? Had he not been
What can be the matter with Anton Armbruster? What has kept him
from coming?... The best part is wanting when he is away.... Thoma
wouldn't let him come to the celebration.... No, their engagement is
broken off.... I'll tell you; Anton is ashamed of Landolin, whose
acquittal was such an atrocity. Look! There he goes now.
Such, and still more biting words Landolin heard from every group,
as he went around like one risen from the dead, with whom no one would
have anything to do. I have not deserved this, not this said
Landolin, angry and at the same time sad. His eyes burned as they
sought a friendly glance. He not only felt that all the people at the
celebration disliked him because of what he had done, and delighted to
wound him by ignoring his presence, but he also saw plainly that they
were particularly angry at him, because on his account Anton was
absent. Here, at the very place where, on the day of the fair, he had
vaingloriously boasted that he considered Anton of lower station than
himselfhere he was made to hear how universally the man whom he might
have called son was beloved and honored.
Landolin turned to go. Why should he stay? But Hush! Stand still!
was heard from all sides; for a trumpet sounded, and the district
forester mounted the platform. He said that Anton Armbruster had been
selected to welcome their friends and comrades.
Cries of Hurrah for Anton! arose here and there; but silence was
commanded, and the forester, in simple words, welcomed the guests, and
explained the significance of the celebration. He said he intended to
be brief, for hungry stomachs do not like to be fed with words; and he
concluded with a cheer for the Fatherland.
To dinner! To dinner! was now the cry. The tables were soon
crowded, while the band played lively airs. Titus sat at a table with
the other rich farmers. Landolin took a chair, and saying, With your
leave, sat down with them.
So, Mr. Ex-bailiff, you here too? Landolin heard himself
addressed, and turning around, saw Engelbert, the shepherd of
Gerlachseck, who had wanted to hire out to him. He now wore a large
white apron, for the hostess of the Sword had engaged him as an
assistant for the day. Landolin did not answer.
His companions at table ate and drank heartily, and talked loudly,
but no one spoke a word to Landolin, until at length Titus said: Well,
how is it, Landolin? I hear you're going to sell your farm. If that's
so, I'm a purchaser. I'll pay a good price. You can have a valuation
put on it.
Who said that I was going to sell?
Oh, it's generally reported that you're going to leave the
If I knew who started that story, I'd pull his tongue out of his
I wouldn't do that, laughed Titus; you certainly ought to know
that that isn't a good plan.
'Twas you, cried Landolin, that started ityou!
Titus gave no answer, but got up and walked away; the others soon
followed him, and Landolin was left alone at the table.
Music filled the air. There was dancing; and during the intervals
people laughed and sang, and made merry, while Landolin struggled with
rage and sorrow. Are these people here all snow-white innocents? Are
there not dozens of them who have much worse things on their
He wished that he had power to rush in and crush everything under
At other times a sadness came over him, and he thought: Were I only
in prison, or, better still, not in the world at all.
But lest he should show his emotion, he leaned back, lighted his
pipe, and smoked with a defiant look on his face. They shall not
succeed in making me eat humble pie.
At that moment merry laughter arose from the table where the people
of rank were sitting. What does that mean? Are the great folks
rejoicing over my misfortune? No, that cannot be, for there sits the
judge's wife, with her son, the lieutenant.
At this table, which was spread with a white linen cloth, and
decorated with vases of flowers, the school-teacher was just saying:
Yes, Madam Pfann, that is the hardest riddle hidden in the whole
history of man. Why can nothing but a myth or a people's war move the
souls of the masses? In a war the souls of nations see one another, if
one may say so, face to face.
He paused in the midst of his dissertation; for the lieutenant said
in a clear voice:
The Frenchmen literally took us for cannibals. In a village near
Orleans, I went to a house and called; there was no answer. Presently I
saw a woman, sitting on top of the brick oven; I spoke to her
pleasantly, but she remained dumb, until, at last, I asked where the
children were. She looked at me in terror; and I said, laughing: 'Bring
me one, and roast it well. I want to eat it.' Then the woman laughed
too, and let the children out of the oven, where she had really hidden
It was at this they had laughed so loud, at the great folk's table.
They were all pleased with the lieutenant, whose former wild boyishness
had changed to dignified composure. The eyes of the judge's wife danced
with a mother's pride; and if she was always thoughtful of comforting
and helping others, to-day she would have been glad to have poured joy
upon every one. But to-day no one needed her, for there was joy and
happiness everywhere. Just then she saw Landolin, and said:
There sits the farmer of Reutershöfen all alone.
It is well, said the district forester, that the people are still
strong-hearted and straight-forward enough to cast out a man who was
Wolfgang, come with me, said the judge's wife, rising; and taking
her son's arm, she went to Landolin's table. She said to her son that
she would remain there, and that he might join his comrades; and giving
her hand to Landolin, she sat down beside him, asked after his wife and
daughterpeople never asked after Peterand promised to visit them
soon. She also intimated that she hoped to be able to straighten out
the difficulty with Anton. Landolin told her, composedly, that Anton
had visited them the evening before, but that Thoma had refused him,
and that was probably the cause of his staying away from the
Had I known that, I should not have come either, he concluded; and
the lady discovered what suffering he must that day have undergone; and
with the most sympathetic expression of voice and countenance, she
Ex-bailiff, I have some good advice for you.
Good advice? that is always useful.
I think you ought to go away with Thoma for a few weeks. Go to a
bathing place. It will do you good.
I'm not sick. There is nothing the matter with me. I didn't know
that our judge's wife was a doctor, too.
You understand what I mean.
I'm sorry I'm so stupid, but I don't understand you.
Then I must speak plainly. Do you think that I desire your
Yes, certainly; why not?
You ought to go away a few weeks, and when you come back matters
will be in a better condition. Other things will have happened in the
meantime, andYou may believe me it would be well.
Landolin shook his head, and said after a long silence: I know you
mean thoroughly well; of course you do; but I shall not stir from this
spot. I'll stay, if only to fool the rest of them. Already the
honorable Titusthe hypocrite!has been trying to spread the rumor
that I am going to sell my farm. I'll stay here and cry fie upon the
whole country. We have owned our farm for hundreds and hundreds of
years. You can ask Walderjörgli; he will testify.
I believe your word alone, said the judge's wife; Landolin nodded
well pleased, for it did him good to be so readily believed, and he
continued, in a clear voice:
Yes, madame, we farmers are not so easily displaced as
thepeople of rank. We at Reutershöfen are a strong stock; people
may dig as much as they choose at the roots; they will not bring it
All his pride arose; his sunken face became full; his form seemed to
grow larger. The judge's wife did not know what more to say; and she
would have been heard no longer, for a thousand voices cried:
Walderjörgli! The Master of Justice! Walderjörgli!
The cry spread, the girls and children on the further meadow took it
up; crying, Walderjörgli!
A man appeared, who stood head and shoulders above all who
surrounded him. His head was covered with soft, snow-white hair; his
snow-white beard fell far down to his breast, and his face, with its
heavy contracted brows and its large nose, looked as if chiseled with
Hutadi! Hutadi! screamed Landolin, springing up as if in a frenzy,
and dashing into the crowd. Hutadi! he screamed, stretching out his
arms, and clenching his fist in Titus' face.
Be quiet, Landolin! The time for that has gone by, said
Walderjörgli in a commanding tone; and laid his broad hand between the
combatants. They stood still; but their chests heaved, and they looked
down at the ground like chidden boys.
The ancient cry of defiance, Hutadi!no one knows exactly what it
means; probably 'Beware' or 'Take care of yourself'was formerly
regarded as a challenge which no one could refuse. When it rang out,
whether from forest or from meadow, whoever heard it must give battle
to him who called.
In his youth, Walderjörgli had been considered the readiest and most
powerful of combatants; but in his riper years he had become one of the
most even-tempered and circumspect of men, so that he was elected
Master of Justice for the forest republic in the mountain; which, as an
independent peasant state, acknowledged no lord but the emperor.
Jörgli settled lawsuits, decreed punishments, and in conjunction
with the council, apportioned the taxes; and all without appeal.
Jörgli was the only survivor of that last embassy which the forest
peasants sent to the emperor at Vienna, to protest against being made
subject to any prince. They desired to remain a free peasantry of the
empire. Jörgli insisted that he was ninety-three years of age, but it
was universally believed that he was already over a hundred; for the
church registers had been burned with the church and parsonage in
The thought flashed through Landolin's mind that Walderjörgli could,
with one stroke, reinstate him in all his old honor; so he said:
From you, Master of Justice, I am glad to receive commands. All
reverence is due you; and besides, you were my grandfather's dearest
He laid his hand on his heart, and hoped that Walderjörgli would
grasp it; but the old man looked sternly at him from under his bushy,
snow-white brows, and said:
How is your wife?
Landolin could scarcely answer. What did this mean? His health was
not asked after! Had his wife then suddenly acquired any peculiar
distinction? Did the old man ask after her only to avoid asking after
Landolin's own health?
He stammered out an answer; and the old man sent a greeting by him
to his wife, who was a good, honest housewife. Landolin smiled. If
nothing is given him, still it's well that one of his family gets
something, for then he too has a share in it.
Landolin informed the bystanders that Walderjörgli's family and his
own were the oldest in the country, for theirs had been the only two
farmer families that had survived the war with Sweden. While he was
talking, he noticed that nobody listened to him; but he went on, and
finished what he was saying with his eyes fixed on the ground.
The judge's wife had approached, and Titus gained an advantage by
introducing her, and saying:
This is the benefactress of the whole neighborhood.
Jörgli took the lady's delicate hand in his large one, and said:
I've heard of you before. You are a noble woman; it is well. In old
times women were not of so much account as they are now. But it is
quite right now. And is that your son? Did you not once come to see me
when you were a student? You have behaved yourself nobly.
He clapped the lieutenant on the shoulder, and every one was
astonished that Walderjörgli still talked so well, and knew everything
that was going on. It was considered a great honor to be spoken to by
Titus said very cleverly what an honor it was that Walderjörgli had
come to the celebration, and begged that he would ascend the platform
and speak a few pithy words to the assembly. The judge's wife added
that it would be a precious memory to old and young, to children and
children's children, if they could say that they had heard the last
Master of Justice speak.
Walderjörgli looked at Titus and the judge's wife with a
penetrating, almost contemptuous glance; for he was not vain, nor did
he wish to be considered wise, and play the part of a prophet; so he
shook his great head, and stuck his thumbs into the arm-holes of his
long red vest, but straightened himself to his full height, and his
eyes sparkled, when the district forester, who knew exactly how to deal
with Jörgli, added that it would be well if the clergy were not allowed
to entirely monopolize everything, even the soldier's associations, and
to dedicate the flag; it would be particularly appropriate that a man
like Jörgli should drive the nail that fastened the flag to the staff:
the Emperor Joseph would certainly have approved of that.
When the Emperor Joseph was mentioned it seemed as if a new life
were awakened in Jörgli. Around Emperor Joseph, who was venerated like
a holy martyr, were gathered recollections of Jörgli's father, which he
almost considered events in his own life.
He clenched his hands, and raising his arms, said, Very well; so
let it be.
He was led to the platform, and boundless were the acclamations of
joy when he appeared, supported on the right hand by Titus, and on the
left by the lieutenant.
There fell such a silence that the people noticed the whirring of
the wings of a pair of doves which flew over the speaker's stand.
Pointing to them, Jörgli cried:
There they fly! One says not to the other, 'We will turn this way
or that.' Their flight agrees by nature. So it is. Agreeing by
He paused, and seemed unable to proceed. The figure had evidently
led him off from what he meant to say. He looked around perplexed, and
seemed not to be able to speak another wordyes, even to have
forgotten that he stood upon the platform.
His two companions above, and the audience below, stood in painful
embarrassment. It was wrong to have brought an old man of a hundred on
Just then the district forester, who stood near, said audibly,
Jörgli opened his mouth wide and nodded. Yes, now he had his
guiding-star again. Almost inaudibly, and in a very confused manner, he
spoke of the Emperor Joseph and of the new emperor. Only this much was
plainthat he considered the present emperor as the direct successor
and continuer of the Emperor Joseph's struggles against the Pope.
Titus handed Jörgli a nail, and the lieutenant gave him a hammer. He
nailed the flag to the flag-staff, and this widely visible act was more
than the best speech; and he left the stand amid cheers and the sounds
He immediately called for his wagon. He wished to go home, and no
one dared urge him to remain.
The four-horse wagon drove up the meadow. Landolin pushed his way up
to it, and said, Jörgli, I will go home with you. Take me along.
Give my greetings to your wife, said Jörgli, turning away from
him. He let himself be helped into the wagon, and then drove away. The
wheels were hardly heard on the meadow, and the people on both sides
saluted reverently, as they made way for him.
How glad I should have been, if I could have sat in the wagon
beside him! thought Landolin.
No one ever prayedno one ever offered to an angel,to a
saint,more childlike petitions than theseTake me with you; deliver
me from this misery,which had just passed Landolin's lips. But in
these days the best are no longer good, and have no pity.
When Jörgli had gone the merriment began anew. They invited one
another to drink, and new groups were soon formed. Only Landolin was
not invited. He stood alone. Stop! Landolin struck his hand on his
pocket, and the money jingled. With that a man can call a comrade who
will talk with him better than any one else, and make him forget his
He turned away from the meadow, and went to the city side of the
Sword Inn. There were no guests there to-day. An old servant brought
him wine. He drank alone, and had his glass refilled again and again.
As he still wanted every one to consider him of great importance, he
explained to the old waitress that he was going to a bathing place for
his health pretty soon. There they wouldn't let a man drink anything
but mineral water, and so he was going to take plenty of wine before he
The old waitress said that was wise, and then returned to the
illustrated paper which she had brought down from the Casino.
It was quiet in the cool room. Only a canary bird in his cage
twittered awhile, and then began whistling half of the song Who never
on a spree did go.
Landolin frequently looked up at the bird and smiled; until,
remembering Walderjörgli, he murmured, Give my greeting to your wife.
The mother slept in her chamber. Thoma sat at the table in the
living-room before a large, handsomely-bound book, filled with
beautiful pictures. It was an illustrated history of the last war,
which Anton had given her. Many book-marks lay between the leaves, at
the places where the battles in which Anton had taken part were
described. There were many soldiers in the pictures, but Anton's face
was not distinguishable. She had heard that he was not at the
celebration to-day. It was on her account. What could she do for him?
There seemed to be nothing that she could do. Thoma had intended to
read, but she could not bring herself to it; and to-day it horrified
her to see in the pictures the men murdering each other, and shell
tearing them to pieces.
For a long time she stared before her into the empty air. She was
weary after the harvest work. Her head sank forward on the open book,
and she fell asleep.
A cry awoke her; for her mother was calling,
Landolin! For God's sake! don't do it! Stop!
Thoma hastened to her mother, who looked at her wildly, as though
she scarcely knew who and where she was.
Is it you? she asked at length. Where is your father?
At the celebration.
He must come home. Has not Peter found him yet? Where is he staying
so long? Oh, Thoma! The eye-glass on the little black ribbon! He
kneeled down on Titus, and tried to choke him! The farmer must come
home, home! she cried, weeping. She was in a fever. Thoma succeeded in
quieting and undressing her. With chattering teeth she begged that a
messenger should be sent for her husband, and Thoma obeyed her request.
Boys and girls rode past the house in the decorated wagons,
singing,the people on foot talked and laughed,while in the house
the farmer's wife lay in a fever. But at last, with burning cheeks, she
Thoma had ordered the messenger she sent for her father to go for
the physician at the same time. The messenger found the doctor, but not
It was late at night when Landolin crossed the bridge on his way
home. He hit against the railing, and cried, Oho! as though it were
some one blocking his way.
Are you drunk? he said, laying his finger on his nose; then
laughed and went on.
The meadow was empty; not a soul was there. Landolin crossed it with
a steady step, and ascending the speaker's stand
All you people there together, may the devil catch you all! Hutadi!
Hutadi! he cried, in a terribly strong voice. He seemed to expect that
some one would come and fight with him; but no one came; so he
descended from the stand, and went up the mountain road.
A sober Landolin struggled with a tipsy one.
Fie! shame on you, Landolin! he said to himself, what a fellow
you areFie upon you! A man like you drunk on the open road, before
everybodyLet me alone, Titus! I don't want anything to do with
youI'm not drunk. And if I amno. The cursed wine at the Swordat
that timeGo awayaway!If you don't go, Vetturi, you shallThere,
there you lie
He bent over to pick up a stone, and fell down.
Getting up again, he said to himself, as he would to an unruly
horse: Keep quiet, quiet! So, so! And then he cried angrily: If I
only had a horse! At home there are twelve, fourteen horses and one
coltWho's coming behind me? Who is it? If you have any courage, come
on! 'Tisn't fair to hit from behind. Come in front of me! Come, and
I'll fight with you!
From the steep hillside a stone rolled into the road, loosened by
who knows what animal's flying foot? Landolin clenched both hands in
his hair, that rose on end with fright, and cried:
Are you throwing stones? That's it, self-defense! self-defense!
He stopped and said, Don't drive yourself crazy, or they'll put you
in an asylum.
A railroad train rushed through the valley. The locomotive's red
lights appeared like the flaming eyes of a snorting monster. Landolin
stared at it, and in doing so he became calmer, for ghosts cannot haunt
a locomotive's track. The sweat of fear ran down his face, and with
loudly beating heart he hastened up the road. At length he breathed
more freely; he took off his hat; a refreshing breeze blew over the
plateau: he saw his house, and said:
The light is still burning; they are waiting for me; supper is on
the table. Control yourself; you are Landolin of Reutershöfen. You have
a wife called Johanna, a daughter called Thoma, and a son called Peter.
I care nothing for the hammering in my temples. I am not drunktipsy:
three times three are nineand one more is ten. You lie when you say I
am drunk. I can walk straight. So, there is the well. Oh well, you are
happy; you can stay at home, and yet be full all the time. Ha! ha!
Hush! don't try to make jokes. Hush!
Again he stood at the well, and cooled his hands and face, then went
into the yard, and without stopping to speak to the dog, passed up the
steps and into the living-room, where he found the doctor sitting at
the table, writing.
What is it? There's nothing the matter?
Your wife is sick.
It is not serious?
I don't know yet. At any rate you must keep quiet. You may go in;
but don't talk much, and come right away again.
The walls, the tables, the chairs, seemed to reel; but his step was
firm as he went to his wife's side and said:
Walderjörgli sent his greeting to you; he charged me with it
He had sufficient self-control to say all this with a steady voice,
and his wife replied:
I know it already; the doctor told me that Walderjörgli was there.
Where he is, everything goes right. Thank him. Good-night.
Landolin threw himself into the great chair out in the living-room,
Oh, what misery it is to come home and find your wife sick, and no
joy, no welcome, nothing!
He looked at Thoma, who, without moving or making a sound, stood
leaning against the bedroom door.
To what a pass has it come when, in the midst of such misery, the
father thinks of himself alone!
Landolin arose wearily and whispered to Thoma:
You've noticed that I'm tipsy? Yes, I am; and if you do not treat
me affectionately, as you used to, I will be so every day,then you'll
see what will come of it!
I cannot keep you from doing what you choose, either to yourself or
Bring me something to drink. I'm very thirsty, ordered Landolin.
Thoma went, and returned with a bottle.
That is nothing but water! But never mind; you're right. You're
For the first time in many days, father and daughter laughed
together, but their laughter soon died away.
The farmer works like a hired man, said the servants and
day-laborers on Landolin's farm.
It was true that Landolin was the first up in the morning, and the
last abed at night; and that he took hold of the work in the field he
had never done before. His appetite was good, and he slept all night
without tossing about. He never left the farm, neither week-days nor
Sunday; and he did what cost him a great effort: he said in the
presence of the servants that Peter should now have the control of
everything; for in the few years he had left, he wanted to see with his
own eyes how Peter would carry things on after they should be closed
His speech was milder, and his manner less haughty.
He seemed grateful that a heavy storm had passed over his house
without breaking; for his wife was out of danger. To be sure, she was
yet ailing, and had to keep her room; but she seemed to revive when she
saw that her husband had discovered the best mode of living; that
isto be independent of the world's opinion, and to keep his own life
straight. She did not know that he had discovered what a treasure he
had in his wife, and he did not tell her; for he could not express
himself on the subject.
There were but two persons in the house whom he shunned. One of them
noticed it, and the other did not. Landolin avoided being in the same
field, or at the same work anywhere, with Thoma; for he felt as though
he were under a ban whenever she looked at him: and even when he was
not looking at her, he thought he could feel her eyes following every
motion he made. He could not imagine what more she wanted of him, since
she had forbidden his making any effort to arrange matters with Anton.
Since his coming home, and especially since the celebration, Landolin
was in the habit of shutting his eyes when he thought he was unnoticed;
and even when looking at anyone they winked incessantly, as though they
were tired and only kept open by force. A glance that Thoma gave him
made him conscious of this habit for the first time, and also apprised
him that she knew its cause.
The other person whom Landolin avoided was Tobias; for Peter
persisted in saying that Tobias must be sent away. And although
Landolin was by no means soft-hearted, especially toward servants,
whom, at the best, he considered rascals; yet the thought of this
dismissal was painful to him. He could not forget how much Tobias had
helped him to his acquittal.
Outside of the house there were two persons whom they would all have
been glad to forget entirely. One was Anton. They heard nothing from
him directly; for he had gone, with a large raft, down the Rhine to
Holland. But all the people who came to the houseand gradually many
began comingexpressed their regret that Anton was not to be his
son-in-law; and their inquiries as to the cause were unceasing.
Whoever could have observed her closely must have seen that Thoma's
eyebrows had sunk a degree lower since Anton went away. He had once
told her that his father had often urged him to go to Rotterdam with a
raft some time, and get acquainted with the daughters of his business
friends there, and look around for a wife. There was already a Dutch
woman in the neighborhooda comfortable, clear-complexioned, good
woman, also married to a miller; and Thoma fancied that Anton could be
happy with such an honest, careful wife.
The second person whom they would have liked to forget was
Cushion-Kate. She lived quietly, and scarcely spoke with any one; but
every night she might have been seen with her lantern, at her son's
grave. Whenever she met one of Landolin's family, she stopped and
stared at them. She never returned their greeting, and always went out
of her way to avoid Landolin himself.
Landolin's wife and Thoma had both taken great pains, personally and
through friends, to help Cushion-Kate, but she refused everything.
I will not be bought off by the murderer Landolin, was her
invariable answer. She gathered grain in every field except Landolin's.
Once, when crossing the bridge, on her way to the mill with her
gleanings, she met him on horseback. She sprang before the horse, and
cried: Get off and drown yourself, you murderer! Ride on! Drive on!
Whether you ride or drive, you carry your hell around with you! Get off
and drown yourself!
Are you done? Then step out of my way, said Landolin, calmly. But
as the old woman still clung to the horse's bridle, he cried angrily:
Let go, or I'll let you feel my whip or set Racker at you!
The dog understood his master's words. He set his paws on the
woman's shoulders, and snapped at her red kerchief. She stepped back.
Landolin made Racker drop the kerchief, and then rode on without a look
at the old woman, who picked up her sack of wheat again. At home he did
not mention the occurrence.
It is unfortunate, as every one knows, when two horses hitched to
the same wagon fail to pull evenly together. But no one can suppose
that it is from malicious intention, and either horse might complain
that it was all the fault of the other, and that it was only from a
surly delight in obstinacy that he didn't put himself to the harness,
and so pull the wagon along. But with two persons it is quite
different; especially with those who have before pulled so well
together as Peter and Tobias. The latter had of course noticed Peter's
imperiousness and malignity; but he did not understand it, nor ask the
reason for it, for he really gave the matter very little thought. This
was no time for bickering and contentions as to which should outrank
the other. Tobias thought to himself, Only wait till after the
harvest; then we'll have threshing-time. Peter likewise thought, Only
wait till the harvest is over; then I'll draw my hand over the measure
and level it off. Tobias smilingly allowed Peter to give orders; he
even scarcely looked up when Peter countermanded those which he had
himself given to the servants and day-laborers. It is harvest-time;
stormy weather would be injurious now, but a storm between people
working together would be still worse.
Tobias gave the servants to understand that he was glad to let the
little boy Peter sit in the saddle and manage the whip; for, thanks to
his care, the wagon would move on safely.
Matters continued in this way during the whole harvest-time. Peter
and Tobias stood opposite one another like two men that, with axes
raised, ready to strike each other, wait a moment to draw their breath.
When will the blow fall?
Landolin pretended to see or hear nothing that was taking place
between the head-servant and his son. He had not had a confidential
talk with Tobias since the evening after the trial. But Tobias was not
concerned about it. A man does not say to the forest behind his house,
It's right for you to stay there and keep on growing; and it was just
as easy to imagine the mountains moving away with the forest as to
think of Tobias leaving the farm, especially since he had helped, so
cleverly and well, to have his master acquitted.
But Tobias often looked at his master to see if he would not say a
word of reproof to Peter for his overbearing manner.
When Landolin could no longer avoid doing so, he said, shaking his
finger and winking confidentially: Let him alone. A horse that pulls
so hard at first will soon let up.
But Peter did not let up. The principal part of the harvest was
over. They were about to take the grain that had been threshed out on
rainy days to market. This had been for many years Tobias's undisputed
right, but Peter now declared that he would do it alone.
It's not necessary for me to answer you, replied Tobias. You are
not the master. The farmer and I will show you who is master.
He called Landolin, and made his complaint to him. Landolin took a
grain of wheat out of a sack that had just been filled; bit it in two;
looked at the white meal, and nodded without giving a reply. But Tobias
pressed him for an answer, and demanded to know whether he was in the
farmer's service or in Peter's.
Peter and I are now one and the same, said Landolin, at length,
swallowing the grain of wheat, the first that had ripened since spring.
He decided that it would be wisest to side with his son. Tobias could
do him no more harm, and one need not be better than all the rest of
the world; ingratitude is the world's wages. But still he did not want
to appear ungrateful; so he said, when he had swallowed the wheat, Be
Wise? Who is masteryou or Peter?
Peter, Landolin forced himself to say; and then turned away. It
may be that Tobias is treated unjustly; it may be. But Landolin must
look out for himself first. He thought he had burden enough of his own,
without bearing other people's.
He went up the steps and stood on the porch.
Peter was triumphant.
Did you hear that? Now listen to something more. You may go to-day,
or to-morrow, or at this minute; the sooner you go, the better.
Tobias looked toward the stables, toward the barns, and toward the
mountains to see if they were not shaking. So I'm sent
awaydismissed? Iby you?
Yes, yes, by the little boy you so willingly let play at being
master, just for fun. I've calculated what is still coming to you.
What is coming to me? And what price have you set on what I have
done for you? For you, you acquitted man up there!and for you,
If you want a witness fee, I'll give you four marks more, said
Peter, with a sneer. We're not afraid of you. Go and say that you gave
false testimony, and see what you'll get by that. Father! don't
speaknot a word; he has to deal with me.
Well, it serves me right: I might have known it would be so. The
stones that lay here then are now firmly bedded in the pavement; but,
Peter, mark my words: Stones will fly through the air at you, till you
are dead and buried. I am an innocent child in comparison with you. You
will suffer for this.
Prophesy, if you like. You know from experience what a good prophet
you are. You understand what I mean.
Tobias groaned like a goaded bull; he pulled at his clothes; he
evidently wanted to rush upon Peter: but Peter stood still and lit a
fresh pipe. Tobias clenched his hands upon his breast, and, without
another word, went to his room.
The wind whistled over the stubble, and when they awoke in the
morning, the first snow lay high upon the crest of the mountain. The
powerful autumn sun soon melted it, and laughing rills ran down through
all the little channels to the river in the valley.
It was St. Ægidius Sunday, shortly before church time, when Tobias
went to the farmer's wife, who was sitting in the living-room, and
Mistress, I've come to say good-bye to you, and thank you for all
your kindness through these many years. You know I've been dismissed.
The farmer's wife nodded. By Peter, continued Tobias, by Peter, not
by the farmer; that I see plainly enough, though he did give his
consent. But he isn't of any account any more. For your sake, Mistress,
I wish the house no evil as long as you live. I've deserved to have
this happen to me; it serves me quite right. Why did I lie, and say
before the court that Vetturi threw a stone at the Master? Why, the
shaky fellow couldn't have lifted one of those paving-stones. It serves
me right; and Peter is smart. He carries things with a high hand. He
knows that I can't say this to anybody but you, and you knew it before.
Wherever else I'd say it, they'd laugh at me, and despise me into the
bargain. Now good-bye, and I hope you'll see many happy years yet.
A cold shudder crept over the farmer's wife. Her hands trembled and
her head moved from one side of the great chair to the other. But at
length she controlled herself and said:
I beg you, for my sake, don't say this to any one else. Give me
your hand on it.
Tobias hesitated, but he could not withstand her imploring look. So
he grasped her cold hand.
Where are you going when you leave here? asked she.
You are the first that's asked me that. What do the others care for
a dismissed servant, even though he has served them so many years? I'm
going to my brother, the teamster's.
Take him my greeting. And you shall soon come back againI'll fix
No, I think not. I'll not come back again. I've laid by something,
and perhaps I can get another place. I won't go to Titus, but perhaps
Anton will take me when he comes home. So again farewell.
Farewell, and keep up a brave heart.
The farmer's wife looked through the window as Tobias, with his
brother's help, lifted his great chest into the wagon. It looked almost
like a coffin. She stepped back from the window, and called a maid to
help her to her bed.
Landolin and Thoma were frightened when they were summoned to her
bedside. She lay with her back to them, and without turning around she
said, Don't be frightened; I'll soon be all right again. Landolin
knew in a moment that Tobias had been doing mischief here, so he said:
I shouldn't have let the rascally fellow come up to see you alone.
Before my eyes he wouldn't have dared to pour his stupid spite into
yourinto your good heart.
Such an affectionate word caused his wife to turn over and grasp her
husband's hand. Holding her hand in one of his, and stroking it gently
with the other, Landolin continued:
Yes, one only finds an unfaithful man out when it's too late. When
a servant is discharged, his hidden meanness shows itself. Tobias has
the impudence to say that he invented a lie for my sake. It's infamous
how malicious the greatest simpleton can yet be. But, thank God, what
he says won't make any difference with you.
His wife looked at him with glistening eyes; and casting a sidelong
glance at Thoma, Landolin continued:
I must beg Peter's pardon; I didn't know him. He's smart; smarter
thanthan I knew. We send Tobias away, and that is the best proof that
we, thank God, have nothing to hide. But I've talked enough. Not
another angry word shall escape my lips. You know I'm going to
The farmer's wife lay perfectly quiet. She felt chilly, but she
begged the family to go to church; for the bells were just ringing.
Landolin went, and not without great self-satisfaction. To be sure,
it was not a difficult matter to deceive his confiding wife; but Thoma
had received a hit at the same time. She deserved it for her obstinate
hard-heartedness; for of course she must know in what direction the
praise of Peter led.
Thoma stayed with her mother, who prayed quietly.
Up the same road over which Landolin had passed the night after the
celebration, now came, on this clear autumn Sunday, the judge's wife. A
scoffer, who knew her thoughts, might have said to her: Not the
intoxication of wine alone makes a man talk to himself, and changes his
view of everything; and, worse still, the recovery from an
over-indulgence in exciting thought is, perhaps, even bitterer.
This might have been said, and still the lady would not have stopped
in her walk. Obeying a voice from within and not from without, she felt
that she ought no longer delay in an effort to establish peace and
quietness in Landolin's house, and peace between them and Cushion-Kate.
She knew right well, for she had often enough experienced it, that a
man sets little value on unsolicited help; yes, even frequently refuses
it. But she also knew that her advice, even when repulsed, had had
effect, and worked for good; and, above all things, she felt herself
within the circle of the duties that spring from the union of man to
man. As in war the wounded is no enemy, so in peace the sufferer is no
So the lady went up the hill. The church bells were ringing for the
noon-day service; but in her ears rang the sound of a bell whose metal
was not yet molten, and for which, who knows when a tower will be
The lady's thoughts by no means hovered in the so-called higher
regionsquite the reverse. She thought of the nearest and most
As she stood by the road, she saw a four-horse spring-wagon coming
down the hill on a trot. A cow, grazing by the wayside, sprang,
frightened, into the middle of the road, and ran along before the
wagon, terrified, and with difficulty; at last the coachman rose in his
seat, and hit her with his long whip, so that she turned aside, stood
awhile, staring after the dust-enveloped monster with the four horses,
and then went on grazing.
Smilingly the lady thought that this might be given as an example to
the villagers. Turn aside, and you will be free from fear of what comes
rolling behind you, threatening destruction.
But one must not give country-folk an illustration from their own
immediate surroundings. Clergymen understand this; or perhaps hold by
tradition that only strange, powerful figures have any effect. This is
why they so like to speak of the storm-tossed ship on the sea, of the
palmy oases in the desert; when neither they, nor their hearers, have
ever seen either.
Engaged in these thoughts, Madam Pfann had reached the plateau, and
came in sight of Landolin's house. The shingled roof glittered in the
mid-day sun, and the tree on the east side was standing full of nuts.
Although Landolin, who was sitting on the bench before the house,
saw the lady coming, he did not move, but kept on cracking nuts in his
hand, and shelling out the kernels. Not until she had drawn very near
did he rise and say:
Good-day, Madam. Will you not rest here a little while?
Yes; I was just coming to see you.
May I ask what news you bring me?
Properly speaking, none. Or perhapsI hope
Well! what is it?
I would like to talk with you in the house; not here.
My wife, I'm sorry to say, is sick. It's nothing serious, but she
might wake up.
Then take me to the upper room.
If you wish, why not? But are you not afraid to be alone with a
You must not say that word again; and no one else must. I hope to
root out even the thought of it from every mind.
You'll have to use witchcraft, thought Landolin; but nevertheless
he wondered what the lady had to say.
When the two rose, Peter came from behind the nut-tree. It was
strange, one met Peter everywhere. It seemed as though he had come out
of the wall, or through the steps. Without paying any attention to the
fact that his sudden appearance must be surprising, Peter said, very
Madam does us great honor in coming to see us. Great folks know
what is the proper thing to do. They are the best, after all.
Landolin opened his eyes wide at hearing Peter talk thus. Where has
the boy learned it all? The lady, too, looked at him in astonishment;
but Peter went on composedly:
Madam, my father keeps no secrets from me. May I not know what news
you bring us?
With these words Peter fixed his eyes sternly upon his father, that
he might not be able to give the lady the slightest sign, even with his
eye. But the judge's wife helped him out, for she replied:
What I wish or bring is for your father alone; but I am heartily
glad that you and your father are in such unison. A child that is not
good to his parents never prospers in this world.
Peter chuckled. It is delicious how every one dissembles. Of course
the lady knows how he and his father stand toward one another, and yet
she plays the hypocrite. He laughed again and again until his father
said to him:
Send something for the lady to eat and drink to the upper room; but
don't wake your mother.
As Landolin and Madam Pfann went up the stairs, Landolin stepped as
lightly as the lady.
In the upper room, where Thoma's outfit was stored, the air was
close. The judge's wife quickly opened the window, and then turned to
Landolin, and looked at him with the clear, friendly glance before
which harshness and obduracy seemed always to disappear. Wherever she
came, she diffused peace and calmness and noble graciousness.
A maid-servant brought food and drink.
Landolin went to the doors to see that no one was listening, and
then said, with a modest politeness that was quite new for him:
Pray be seated on the sofa; and permit me now to ask what you have
to tell me?
Mr. Ex-Bailiff, began the lady.
Please say simply Landolin, without the Mr. or ex-bailiff.
Well then, Landolin, a while ago you said a word which I will not
repeat. You said it in derision, in anger and vexation. Landolin, you
are acquitted, but I wish that you would acquit yourself, and that you
can do to-day, to me, by my help.
Madam, I went to confession to-day, to the priest, at church.
Very well. I don't mix myself in church affairs; but I see in your
eyes, I see in your heart, that you have a feeling like one who strives
to hide a secret sorrow, and thinks that it is not seen. You do not
feel yourself free, and clear, and at ease.
The veins in Landolin's forehead swelled in anger, but the lady
looked steadily into his face as though he were a wild animal that
could be tamed by a firm, unwavering look. His eyelids rose and fell
quickly, his tightly compressed lips quivered, and his hand that lay on
the table clenched nervously.
I know what you want to say, said the lady, quickly; you have a
right to do so: only say right out that I must leave your house; that I
had no right to force myself into your home, or into your heart. Only
say it, and I will go.
No, stay. You are a brave woman, I must say. I should not have
thought it possible, never,a woman! Speak without fear. From such a
woman as you I will hear anything. I think there can be but one such as
you in the world.
The lady blushed, and for hardly longer than a thought takes the
flattery disconcerted her, and seemed to turn her from her course.
Landolin perceived this momentary confusion, and smiled
triumphantly. After all, she's only a woman, and, like every woman,
can be bought with dress and praise!
Controlling herself quickly, the lady resumed, with a tone that came
from her inmost soul:
Landolin, men are put in the world together that one may help
I see nothing of it. Nobody troubles himself about his neighbors,
Did you ever do otherwise yourself? Did you formerly concern
yourself about others? the lady wanted to say; but she was quick-witted
enough to suppress that, and replied instead:
You have a right to be bitter against the world.
Landolin looked at her in astonishment. He felt something of that
mild art of healing which does not try to soften sorrow by denying it
and covering it over, but by recognizing it in its reality and
Thank you, said Landolin, but I have taken advantage of that
right. The world is nothing to me, and I am nothing to the world.
May I ask a question?
Then tell me if the misfortune, or accident, in this poor fellow's
case had happened, not to you, but to Titus, to the Oberbauer, or to
Tobelurban, would Landolin of Reutershöfen have acted differently
Landolin shrugged his shoulders and whistled softly. He followed her
through the first, second, even the third thought, but at the fourth he
stopped, and, like a balking horse, was not to be moved from the spot.
With an encouraging smile the lady said:
I will answer for you. 'Yes, Madam Pfann; I should have acted
toward the others just as they have acted toward me.'
You are sharp; you cut one through and through.
Very well; then do not be so timid and afraid.
I afraid? Of what?
Of your own thoughts. Within Landolin there are two Landolins, and
one of them wants to cast out the other. And now I want to say, don't
turn away the only one who can help you.
Nobody can help me.
Yes, yes, there is one, and he is a strong man; only he does not
know it now. And do you know what his name is? Landolin of
Reutershöfen. You alone can help yourself, and then you will have no
one else to thank.
Yes; but how?
Take a drink first, and give me one, and then listen.
Landolin, began the judge's wife anew, if we could rely upon it
that people would lay penance upon themselves, and do good where they
had done evil, or when a bad accident had happened to themif we knew
that surely, we should need no courts and no punishment in the world.
Landolin, there is a way in which you can free yourself and your whole
house from unhappiness.
Does this look like an unhappy house?
It does not look so, but it is so, Landolin. Outside, there sits a
poor woman, whose only son is dead. In field and forest this woman has
only the one little spot of earth in which her son rests, where
The woman is nothing to me.
Your mouth only says that; the soul within you speaks quite
differently. If you had been found guilty you would have had to support
this desolate widow.
She was startled when she was suddenly interrupted by a laugh from
Landolin. To be sure, it was a forced one, but a laugh nevertheless.
She looked at him inquiringly, and he cried:
I see you understand all about law.
We are not talking of law. The poor woman has no legal claim. What
you do you will do voluntarily, and it is that that is beautiful.
Landolin, you will give the money that I desire; but that is not enough
for me: you must also give the right thoughts with it.
I have no money, and no right thoughts.
Yes, you have; you have both. You will have them, and the more you
give the more you will have. I vouch for you, you will yet make the
poor woman's days happy and peaceful.
Oho! cried Landolin, so that the world shall say, 'He feels,
after all, that he is guilty, and is trying to cover it over with
What difference does what the world says make to you?
A violent struggle must have taken place in Landolin's soul, and it
showed itself in his manner. He walked restlessly up and down the room.
He clenched his hands; he opened them again. At length he stood still
before the judge's wife and said:
Madam, even should you succeed with me, seven angels could not tear
a wicked woman from her wickedness. 'Tis easier to drag a fox from his
hole with the bare hand. Perhaps you do not know that Cushion-Kate has
always had a hardened disposition. Perhaps she cannot help it. Her
mother stood at the church door with a straw wreath on her head before
Cushion-Kate was born. No, Madam Pfann, with meyou have seenI let
myself be persuaded; but who knows
Just leave that to me. Oh, dear Landolin, you'll make my life more
happy if you'll obey me; and every morsel you eat, every moment you
sleep, will be doubly blessed to you. Come now with me to
I go to Cushion-Kate! If she wants anything of me she may come to
me. I wouldn't like to tell you of all she tries to do to me on highway
And for that very reason go to her with me now. I know very well
what that isLandolin to Cushion-Kate;but do not ask yourself now if
you are doing too muchif you are lowering yourself. Come with me!
Give me your hand. Come!
Very well. I will go with you.
It was quiet in the road; no one was to be seen while Landolin
walked along with the judge's wife. She frequently looked at her
companion, as if in fear that he might suddenly turn and run away; but
he kept step with her, and only where the road and the meadow path met
he stopped and said:
I should never have believed it if any one had told me that I
should do this. But I do it for your sake; and Cushion-Kate may curse
and insult me as she will. I will say nothing in return.
She will change for the better, said the judge's wife,
In the little house past which led the meadow path, Cushion-Kate sat
at the table this Sunday afternoon. Before her lay the hymn-book, but
it was not open. The old woman had rested her elbow on the table, and
her left cheek lay on her bony hand; she was gazing out of the window
before which the black elderberries glistened, and a young starling
For a long time she looked before her without moving, and a bitter
smile passed over her hard features as she muttered:
He dares to go to the Lord's Table before the whole congregation. O
Thou above! forgive me that I quarrel with Thee so. But even Thou art
not as Thou wast in old times. Landolin should have stood before the
church door in a penitent's dress. Yes, mother; you had to stand there
with a straw wreath on your head, and thought that you must sink into
the ground in shame; and you cursed the whole world; and I beneath your
heart learned it thenthere is nothing but sorrow and distress in my
blood. O God, I pray for only one thing; let me not die before I have
seen how this ends with Landolin. I cannot wait till the next world; I
She took her hand from her cheek and listened; voices, steps, drew
nearer; the wooden bolt of the house door was pushed back, and the room
Sit still, Kate, said the judge's wife; and behind her stood
Landolin. The old woman opened her mouth, but she could not bring out a
word. The judge's wife laid her hand on her shoulder, and said, Kate!
Here is the ex-bailiff; he wants to bring you rest and kindness, and
everything that is beautiful and right. Now I beg you, take heart, and
lighten your soul and his; he wants to take care of you as though you
were his own mother.
His mother! I was a mother; I am called so no longer. Had there
been, not twelve men, but twelve mothers, in court, they would have
hanged him, and the ravens would have eaten his eyes and his fat
The judge's wife was struck dumb by this raving; but Cushion-Kate
now turned to Landolin:
They say that you spoke for yourself in court; do you now need some
one else to speak for you?
Controlling himself with a violent effort, Landolin said that he was
heartily sorry that so great a sorrow had come upon Cushion-Kate; that
he could not bring the dead to life, but he promised her that she
should live as though she were a rich farmer's wife. With a shrill cry
And I say to you, fie upon all your gold and goods! Only because
the good lady is there do I not spit in your face. I have found out in
weary nights that every sinner can be forgiven except oneexcept the
liar, and that is what you are. You must go to ruin, you must have no
rest by day or night, and all that is yours must go to ruin too. Come
with me! Come to my Vetturi's grave; kneel down there; call the
congregation together and confessBut true, you never go through the
churchyard. But take heed! You must soon go, when one of your family
That is enough, cried Landolin. Come with me, Madam Pfann, or I
shall go alone; I cannot stand this any longer.
He turned away; Madam Pfann cast one more beseeching glance at
Cushion-Kate, but she laughed scornfully.
Landolin and the judge's wife walked silently together to where the
footpath joins the road; there they stood still, and taking his hand,
Farewell! I thank you for having been so good to me; and you may be
sure it will do you good too. You have done all a man could, and may
now rest easy. We have not gained what I hoped, but your soul must feel
easier and freer.
Yes; but I should like to ask a favor
Only tell it, said the judge's wife, encouragingly, as Landolin
Well, Madam, when I think of it fairly, I cannot blame Cushion-Kate
so much, that she is so frantic and raves against me; I am innocent,
but still it happened. I don't believe in witchcraft and prophecy; but
the way she spoke of death in my family frightened me. Now what was I
going to say? I forget. Oh! this. Cushion-Kate may cherish a hate
toward me; but my daughteryes, I will tell you how deaf and dumb she
is toward me. It is hard that a stranger should come between father and
child; but I think
So do I. You may depend on it I will speak to Thoma, and I shall
succeed better than we did over there. I will ask her to come and see
With hearty thanks, Landolin and the lady parted. She walked on a
while as if lost in thought, and forgetful of the way; but she soon
began, as usual, to pick flowers and grasses and pretty sprigs, and
arrange them in a beautiful bouquet.
In the garden of the Sword Inn her husband met her, and she soon sat
pleasantly conversing with the people of rank in their separate arbor.
The members of the Casino had made it an variable rule never to
question the judge's wife respecting her experiences in her work; and
she herself never mentioned it unless she had need of another's help.
It could easily be seen that she must have met with something difficult
to-day; but her face brightened when the school-master began:
The gentlemen will allow me to explain to Madame Pfann the
starting-point and progress of our conversation. The physician had told
us that Walderjörgli, since the day of the celebration, had been
approaching his release. This suggested the assertion that the
advantage of culture to the common people is questionable in every
respect; that roughness keeps the people even physically stronger than
culture. The judge replied that a child must become a youth, and then a
man, and it is an idle question whether it would not have been happier
if it had remained a child. The physician was just about to speak of
the effect of culture in relation to diseases.
Not exactly that, said the physician; but I was going to say that
the greater difficulty of regulating the peasant's diet is attributable
to his degree of culture; and, again, the acute character of a disease
that is already developed may often be broken up by timely remedies.
I claim this also for intellectual and social discipline, cried
the school-teacher. The moderating power of culture will turn aside
the violence of the passions, and ward off their tragical end.
Obstinacy and unbending willfulness are not real strength.
A quarrel about the people's beard, said a clergyman to a
colleague, smiling, and handing him an open snuff-box. The
school-master had heard a whisper, but had not understood what was
said; so he continued, with a sharp sidelong glance at the disturbers:
As sure as the means of healing from the apothecary help struggling
nature in sickness, or put aside a hindrance to nature's work, just as
certainly will the means of culture, which for centuries have been
gathered together by science, mitigate and heal moral infirmity, and
the outbreak of passion that leads to crimeyes, even crimes that are
Turning to the clergyman, he continued: Religion is also a
health-giving means of culture, but it is not the only one.
Thanks, replied the clergyman, waving his hand, between the thumb
and fore-finger of which he held a pinch of snuff. But, most honored
doctor, your culture-cure is a brewage of classic and scientific
education, a teaspoonful every hour, to be well shaken before
Amidst general laughter his colleague added:
Your plan of education would not even give the people new
enjoyments. What do you propose to give them? They have not the
coarseness that is necessary. Look there! Those boys who have been
tiring themselves all the week at harvest work, on Sunday play ten-pins
and throw the heavy balls.
The game of ten-pins was here interrupted, for the railroad train
rushed past; and the boys, who had evidently been waiting for some one,
hastened to the station, which could be seen from the Casino arbor, and
the company exclaimed:
The Hollanders! There comes Anton Armbruster with the
raft-drivers. Powerful men descended from the cars; they carried
cloaks rolled up tightly on the axes over their shoulders. They came
into the inn garden, and soon sat drinking the foaming beer, surrounded
by groups of friends and strangers. The voices of the raftsmen were
loud, and their laughter sounded like logs rolled over one another.
Anton sat with his father, who had awaited him here. He had regained
his old, fresh appearance; but, from his manner, as well as from that
of the miller, it was easy to see that something had happened that was
not to the old man's liking. To be sure, he touched glasses with his
son; but he put his down again without drinking.
The judge's wife walked up and down the garden with the hostess; but
the latter soon went and said something to Anton. He rose and went
toward the judge's wife, greeting her politely. She gave him her hand,
and went with him toward the vacant promenade by the river side. There
she first gave him the lieutenant's greeting, and then told him where
she had been that day, and what she had experienced. She looked at him
closely and added:
Thoma is soon coming to see me. May I speak to her of you?
So you did not become engaged in Holland?
No, indeed! As long as Thoma does not marry, I too will remain
single. It was very pleasant in Holland. They are very pleasant, hearty
people, and they have got over the stupidity of thinking that we
Germans want to take Holland. They listened to me attentively when I
told of the war, and the eldest daughter of our business friend said to
me that she could listen three days while I told about it.
Did you like her?
Oh yes. She is a beautiful girl, and good-nature shines from her
face; but nevertheless she was not Thoma. As I said, I have not
changed. Look! There comes Peter of Reutershöfen with the wagon. Peter,
what's the matter?
My mother is sick, and I have come for the doctor. There isn't much
the matter, but father is so anxious.
Are all the rest well?
Of course they are.
The doctor drove away with Peter, and the judge's wife asked him to
send Thoma to her as soon as she could leave her mother.
Anton, too, soon went home with his father.
The physician on the plateau, and the raft-drivers in the valley,
were overtaken by a severe thunderstorm that burst forth with wind and
Two days and two nights it stormed in the valley and on the plateau,
with only short intermissions. When the thunder-clouds are ensnared
between close-set wooded mountains and sharply pointed rocks, they can
find no outlet. They toss hither and thither; they break and then come
together again; it thunders and lightens, rains and hails, till they
have entirely disburdened themselves.
One could almost say that it was the same with the people here; when
bad humor had fastened on these hard, sharp-pointed natures, the anger
and quarreling had no end.
Landolin and Thoma sat by the mother's sick bed; sometimes together,
sometimes alone. Their eyes flashed, but their thoughts were unspoken.
The mother was constantly faint, for the air did not cool off during
the two days and nights. On the third day, however, when the sun shone
again, and a balmy, fresh air quickened everything anew, she said:
I feel better. Thoma, it would do you good to go out, and the
judge's kind wife has certainly something good to say to you. Go and
see her. She sent you word by the doctor. Go, for my sake, and bring me
back good news. You can go right away. You have nursed me as I hope
some day your child may nurse you.
Peter had told them that Anton had returned from Holland, and that
he had seen him talking earnestly with the judge's wife. And, although
her mother did not say so, she secretly hoped to live to see their
Thoma prepared herself for the walk into the city. But she did not
wish a stranger to mix in their affairs. She did not need outside help,
and it would do no good.
When she went to her mother, in her Sunday dress, the mother said,
taking her hand:
Child, you look quite different, now you have fixed yourself up a
little. Let me give you this advice. You are so gentle and so kind to
me; be the same to others. Don't put on such a dark face. There, that's
right. When you laugh you are quite another person. Say good-bye to
your father; he is at the stable. The bay mare has a colt. That is a
good sign. Go in God's name, and you will come home happy again. God
As Thoma went past she called a hurried good-bye into the stable,
and did not wait for an answer. On the road it seemed to her as if she
must turn back: she ought not to leave her mother to the care of
strangers; but she went forward, thinking over what she should say to
the judge's wife.
Thoma often threw up her hands in distress, and looked sadly at the
destruction which the hail had wrought in the fields; but she soon
comforted herself. She knew that her father had them insured against
hail. Now they should have something in return for the tax they had
paid so many years. When she reached the beautiful pear-tree which
before had looked like a nosegay, she stood still. The storm had shaken
off almost all the pears, and they lay scattered on the ground. Thoma
called a girl who was working in the potato field to come and pick them
up. Then she went on her way.
Everything reminded her of her first and only walk with Anton, after
their betrothal. Since then she had not been on this road. She avoided
the spot where Vetturi had spoken to her; but where she had rested, and
Anton had stroked her face with the lily of the valley, she paused
awhile. There was no sound in the forest; not a bird sang, a sultry
stillness brooded over moss and grass on which the sunbeams quivered,
the path was strewn with dead and green branches, and the trees which
had been tapped for resin were broken down. The way was not clear and
open again till she reached the path through the meadow where the grass
was still trodden down from the celebration. The water in the river was
yellow, and ran in high, roaring waves almost to the upper arch of the
The hostess of the Sword Inn nodded to Thoma from the window. Thoma
responded and hurried past.
The judge's wife was not at home, but the maidsaying that she
would be back soon: she had only gone to the station; her brother was
expected, and might perhaps come by the first trainopened the corner
room, where Thoma was to wait.
An air full of rest and comfort, full of refreshing odors from
blooming plants on tables and pedestals, surrounded Thoma; and her eyes
wandered over the beautiful pictures and statues on which the sun shone
so brightly. Everything was as still as the flowers and the pictures;
even the clock over the writing-table, among the family pictures, moved
its pendulum without making the least noise.
Thoma sat down in the corner. The river and the mountains of her
home appeared strange to her; everything looked so different through
these great panes of glass.
The judge's wife soon entered, with a fresh bouquet of field flowers
in her hand. She welcomed Thoma heartily, and the tones of her voice
were both gentle and firm.
How beautiful it is at your house! How very beautiful! Thoma said,
her voice trembling.
I am glad that it pleases you.
Oh! and to think, Thoma went on, that this lady who has such a
beautiful home goes to the huts of the poorgoes to Cushion-Kate!
Sit down and make yourself comfortable with me. How is your
Better, but not quite well yet.
Do you bring me good news from your father?
My father says nothing to me. I learned from strangers that he went
with you to see Cushion-Kate. His going there shows that you can do
more with him than any one else. May I ask you something?
Did my father ask Cushion-Kate's forgiveness? And did he confess?
Confess? Your father is acquitted.
Indeed! Then I have nothing more to say. I beg you to let what I
have said be as if unheard.
Dear Thoma, try and think that I am your mother's sister. Have
confidence in me. I see that something weighs down your heart. I beg
you disburden your soul.
Yes, I will; even if it does no good, it must come out. Dear lady,
II saw it with my own eyes. I saw how the stone from my father's hand
hit Vetturi; and Vetturi no more picked up a stone than that picture on
the wall picks up one. Then my father went and denied everything; and
caused all the witnesses and the whole court to lie. O heavens! What
have I said?
Be quiet. So you think then your father should have confessed?
Certainly, right out. I would have gone to our Grand Duke and
kneeled before him; but justice would have been done. 'I did not mean
to kill him, I did it in anger,'that is honest and brings one to
honor again. How often has my father spoken in anger and derision of
this one and that one who pretends to be richer than he is and deceives
people for moneyfor money! And what good has it done my father? He
must beg from the lowest, for a good word or even for silence. Madam
Pfann! last year on Whitsunday I was with my father at St. Blasius.
There was a woman there who had painted her cheeks red, and put flour
on her neck and forehead. There she sat, in broad daylight, and looked
boldly at people, to see if they saw her beautiful red cheeks and white
neck, while she herself knew that she was not young, but on the
contrary, old and wrinkled.
I understand. You think it is unworthy of your father.
Unworthy? repeated Thoma, for this expression, from a higher
sphere of thought, affected her strangely; and the judge's wife
continued: Child, your thoughts at first were not so hard, but by
degrees they have grown sharper, have become bitterer and more
poignant; and that which should have softened you only made you more
harsh. When your father was humble it revolted you, and when he was
Thoma's eyes grew larger and larger. She was like a patient whom the
physician tells exactly how he feels; and this amazement at another's
knowledge becomes a preparation for, and the commencement of a cure.
The judge's wife laid a hand on her shoulder.
Dear Thoma, in imprisonment a man can only do no evil; but at
liberty he can do good. My child, your love of truth is good,
beautiful, and excellent, buthow shall I say it?it is not in place
The good lady was sensible of a deep embarrassment, and her face
reddened as though with shame. She, who was always urging
straightforwardness, should she now shake this girl's strict truth?
But she recovered herself, and continued: If your father did deny
the truth, he is suffering a heavy punishment, because you also deny
Yes. You disown your child's heart. Don't tremble. You need not
promise me anything, except that you will once again examine yourself
earnestly and conscientiously. And your doing so will show itself in
the matter for which in reality I sent for you. My brother may soon
come, and I must arrange this with you quickly.
The judge's wife then told her about Anton; how much every one
esteemed and loved him; and how honorably and beautifully he had
expressed himself after his return from Holland. She showed Thoma her
mistakehow she, from upright and honorable feelingand this
commendation did goodwas acting wrongly, both toward her parents and
You think, she added, you think you cannot call your lover yours
again, because you cannot bring him the same honor that he brings you.
Oh, how do you know everything?
But you do not know, or have forgotten, that love does not
calculateso much have you, and so much have I. Collect yourself and
build up your happiness for yourself and your lover, and your parents,
and all who mean well and kindly by you, as I do. Hush! There's someone
coming up stairs.
The door opened; the counselor entered, and the judge's wife
Welcome, dear Julius.
Thoma stood at one side, and the judge's wife introduced her
brother, the government counselor. Thoma could not answer a word. A
counselor is a brother, and is called dear Julius! A government
counselor was to her a sort of executioner, who brought people to the
block. And now, as this courteous gentleman put his eye-glass up, she
was aware that this was the man who had prosecuted her father. Defiance
and smiles alternated swiftly in her manner. Would not I, too, have
defended myself against this man with all means in my power? She did
not recover her speech until, after the introduction, the counselor let
his eyeglass fall. As if in a dream, she heard him say:
Your father made a master-stroke. He played for a high stake, but
he won it. I wish him good fortune. Give him my greeting.
So, even the judges do not look at it so severely! Thoma thought.
The counselor opened the piano, ran his fingers over the keys, and
said to his sister:
I shall be glad to play a duet with you again.
Thoma prepared to go. The judge's wife accompanied her to the
stairs, and begged her again not to delay making things happy and right
once more. She should remember that we do not know how long we shall
have our parents, and then repentance comes too late.
A sudden fear overcame Thoma that she had stayed here too long, and
she hastened homeward. At the pear-tree the Galloping Cooper met her,
and said that he had been sent to tell her to come home quickly; that
her mother was very ill.
Not long after Thoma had gone, her mother called Landolin and said:
Put your mind at ease and be cheerful again. You may be sure that
Thoma will come home with pure happiness and blessing. Everything will
be right again. She will come holding Anton's hand.
Landolin was silent. He was struck by his wife's glorified
expression, and changed voice. She closed her eyes, but after a while
she said, laughing:
Walderjörgli! Nothing has pleased me so much for a long time as his
greeting. When I am well again you must take me up to see him.
Landolin nodded. He could not tell his wife that the news had just
come that Walderjörgli was dying.
Landolin went into the living-room and looked out of the window. He
saw the agent of the Hail Insurance Company come out of the field with
the bailiff and several of the town council. The agent was putting his
note-book into his pocket. The men had evidently been looking at and
estimating the damages done by the hail. They drew nearer to Landolin's
house, and he greeted them pleasantly, but the agent nodded, and was
Well! How is it? asked Landolin. Have you not looked at my fields
and valued the damages? And why without me?
The agent replied that Landolin was no longer insured; that Peter
had discontinued in the spring.
Landolin drew back and shut the window. He probably did not want to
show the people how this news of Peter's willfulness and indiscretion
surprised him. He sat down on the bench, and pressing his hands between
his knees, and biting his lips, he thought: Now they are laughing at
me; now they can rejoice in my trouble, and the more because it is
plain to be seen that I am of no consequence in my own house.
He went into the yard, and asked for Peter. He was told that he had
gone into the forest with the horses. He said to himself: It is well
that my anger has time to cool; there shall be no quarrel. They shan't
have the satisfaction of rejoicing at our misunderstanding, but Peter
must be made to own that he has been thoughtless.
Landolin seemed to have conquered his uneasiness; and again looked
out of the window, and saw Peter coming with a great load of wood. He
called to him to come into the living-room, after he had unhitched and
unloaded, for he had something to say to him. It was long before Peter
obeyed, and Landolin, whose anger was ready to boil over again,
preached composure to himself. At length he came, and asked what his
Landolin took a chair and said: Sit down.
I can stand.
Don't speak so loud. Your mother is sick in the bedroom.
I'm not speaking loud.
Very well, then; come away with me to the porch.
They went out together, and Landolin said that he was only going to
speak in kindness, and Peter must understand it so; that he had made a
mistake in discontinuing the hail insurance, and it should be a warning
to him. He should see that his father had, after all, done some things
better than he, and that he ought to confess his mistake.
Confession is not to be spoken of between us, replied Peter,
Landolin felt a pain in his breast, as though he had been stabbed
with a dagger. He groaned, and said:
Only think how the people will ridicule us!
It would be well if that were all the ground they had. They do it
at many other things. That's enough! I won't be found fault with.
I didn't find fault with you.
Very well. You can deny that too if you like. There are no
Peter, don't provoke me. I was only speaking to you in kindness.
I didn't see any.
Peter, don't force me to lay hands on you.
Do it. Kill me, as you did Vetturi, and then deny it.
A cry sounded from the porch; but another, much shriller, rang from
the living-room. Landolin rushed in. On the threshold of the chamber
door lay his wife, a corpse.
She had evidently heard the quarrel; had wanted to make peace; and
had dropped dead.
Peter too had come into the living-room; but Landolin motioned him
away, and he obeyed.
They laid his wife on the bed again. Landolin sat beside her a long
time; then he went out and said they must send a messenger for Thoma.
It was not long before Thoma came into the room. She sank down
beside the body, and cried:
O mother, mother! Now, I am all alone in the worldall alone!
When she looked around for her father, he was no longer there.
Thoma had often looked into the cold, stony face of death; she did
not force herself where misery and sickness were, but she never refused
a call. But how different it was now, when she knelt beside her
mother's dead body! It seemed incomprehensible that the good, faithful
mother, who was always so ready for every call, could not answer any
moan of sorrow or cry for help. That is the bitterness of death. Thoma
had really only learned to know her mother since trouble had broken in
upon the house. In the days before that, she, like her father, had paid
little attention to her quiet, modest, busy mother, although she had
never refused her childlike respect.
Mother! Dear, dear, good mother! cried Thoma; but that is the
bitterness of deathit gives no answer.
Thoughts about everything ran through Thoma's soul in confusion;
things long past, and of to-day. The judge's wife lives down there in
the beautiful room with her pictures and flowers; she is probably now
playing duets with her brother; but out there sits Cushion-Kate. Will
she be glad that death has entered Landolin's house? No, that she
cannot! Down by the saw-mill sits Anton, and thinks of his beloved; and
she now bends her head, as though her longing were fulfilled; as though
Anton were by her side, and she could lay her heavy head on his breast.
With what happy reconciling thoughts Thoma had returned home! And
Where is Peter? Where is father? Why is he away? How did it happen
so suddenly? Thoma no longer remembered what she had called out to her
Now she hears steps in the upper chamber; that is her father's step.
Why does he not come? Why is he not here? Now she hears a fall.
It seemed to Thoma hard-hearted to leave the dead; but she went,
nevertheless. She wanted to comfort the living, and tell him what was
in her soul. She went up the stairs; the door was locked. She knocked;
no one answered. She called out, Father! father! It was the first
time in many days that she had spoken that word.
Landolin raised himself up from the floor and listened. This cry
from his child seemed to revive him; but he answered:
You said that you were alone. I too will be alone. I am alone. For
you I am no longer in the world.
Father, open the door! My heart is breaking.
The door opened, and Thoma fell on her father's neck, and could not
speak for sobbing. But at length she said:
Father, I wanted to ask your forgiveness.
Not you, II wanted to come to you. Don't speak; let me talk.
Thoma, you were right; I did do it. I killed Vetturi, and then denied
Thoma sank on her knees and covered her father's hard, rough hand
with tears and kisses. The moon shone into the room; and when Thoma
looked up and saw her father's face, it seemed to her as if glorified;
it was no longer the face of the hard, indomitable man.
I shall say it to no one but you, and no one but you has a right to
hear it from me. I have forgiveness to ask from no one but you; and no
one but you can help me bear my burden, the few years yet till I am
with your mother, said Landolin. And the strong man sobbed and cried
as though his heart were broken.
Thoma, you thought it, and never said it to me, and never pretended
to be friendly to me before the world; but he, he threw it in my face:
and I did not die, but it killed your mother.
He told of the quarrel with Peter, and its consequences.
Father, began Thoma, you cannot wish that Peter should be ruined;
he is your child. We cannot excuse to him what he has done; but we can
help him. And the best help, the only help is, that we two, whom it has
hurt, should forgive him.
You are right, child. You are brave-hearted. We will do it. We will
strive to keep things from ruin. We will stand by Peter; he must not
utterly sink. I know how a man sinks. Come, let us go to him.
Father and daughter went hand in hand to Peter's room; he was not
there. They went to the stable, and there he sat on the fodder bin,
beside the new-born colt.
If his dead mother had come to life and walked toward him, Peter
would not have been more astonished than now, when he saw his father
and Thoma coming hand in hand.
Peter, said the father, I forgive you everything as I pray to God
to be forgiven myself. And do not fret your heart out. You are not to
blame for your mother's death; she was very sick; the doctor
acknowledged it to me. Do speak! Do say one word!
All right, said Peter; all right. I thank you.
Will you not go with us?
No! I will stay here. I am best off here. I wish I were a horse;
such a creature has the best time, after all.
Oh come, dear brother!
I am not your dear brother; let me alone.
Father and daughter went into the living-room, and there the father
related what his sainted wifehe sobbed aloud when he spoke this
wordhad said while Thoma was gone; and Thoma told about the judge's
wife, and about Anton.
All night long father and daughter sat by the body. At daybreak
Landolin said, Your mother can never see the day again.
The father now tried to rest; and Thoma too went to her room, but
she could not sleep.
The rain had passed over and had come back again, and now seemed to
make itself quite at home in the valley and on the height.
When Landolin followed his wife's coffin down the outer stairs, he
caught, step by step, with his left hand at the wall of the house, as
though he needed support. The school children, who were in the yard
singing the funeral hymn, looked up at the changed man.
At the burial, at which one could hardly hear the words of the
pastor, for the pattering of the rain on the open umbrellas, there was
only a small attendance, although she was honored and loved by the
whole neighborhood. For at the same hour that the bells were tolling
here, they were also tolling on the mountain in Hoechenbrand, the
highest village in the province, for the funeral of Walderjörgli.
For this reason Anton was not present. He had to lead the soldier's
association, which had decided to go in a body and pay the last honors
to the last Master of Justice.
Among the men with long black mantles, who carried Landolin's wife's
coffin, relieving one another from time to time, was one who from the
house to the open grave did not move from his post. It was Tobias. In
the short time since he had been dismissed from the farm he had grown
old fast; and the former crafty expression of his face had disappeared.
As the funeral procession left the church-yard, Cushion-Kate was
seen kneeling on her son's grave. She had no umbrella, which even the
poorest always has. She was kneeling on the ground, letting the rain
pour down upon her red kerchief and her dress, and did not look up.
I would like to go to her, said Thoma; I should think she would
accept a kind word from us now in our sorrow; but I am afraid she will
rave and abuse us here by mother's new-made grave.
As Landolin and Thoma went past, Cushion-Kate's glance followed
them, and she clenched her fist. Had she expected the mourners to go to
A man struggling with a river's death-bringing waves cries
involuntarily for help, even though he is weary of life. Thus, tossed
on the waves of sorrow and pain, of hate and revenge, the sad, gloomy
soul hearkens for rescuefor a storm dispelling word.
Why does no one help me? Landolin had so often thought. Perhaps
the poor bereaved woman there now asks, Why does no one help me?
Through his deep, dark grief for his wife's death, his child's love
shone like a star that he had won back. He looked at Thoma, who walked
beside him, and over his sorrow-worn face there flashed, as it were, a
swift gleam of joy. He heard indeed what Thoma had said; but he could
not think of strangers now.
At home, in the yard, in the living-room, in the chamber, it seemed
as though all the lifeless things had been robbed of a nameless
something, and as though they all were waiting for the dead to come
back and greet them with her cheering smile!
Saying nothing, his eyes fastened upon the floor, Landolin was
sitting in his chair, when the pastor soon after presented himself
again at the house of mourning. He spoke words of comfort, but when he
had gone Landolin said, He goes away again. He lives for himself; no
one lives for me any longer.
The regular stroke of the threshers awoke him from his reverie.
These sounds were not new to him, but they startled him from his chair.
To-day, the day of his wife's funeral, they still keep on threshing?
But, to be sure, in this streaming rain, there is nothing else for the
servants and day-laborers to do.
His wife's brother came; it was the first time he had shown himself
since Thoma's betrothal. He did not say much; and not until Thoma came
in, who in composed self-forgetfulness was attending to everything,
were friendly words spoken. It was arranged that the so-called Black
Mass should be said for the departed one in the village where she was
The uncle asked for Peter. He was called, and they sat down at the
table. They ate, and when the uncle went away, Peter, who had scarcely
spoken a word, accompanied him.
Come up again, Peter, his father called after him; but he neither
answered nor came back.
Peter's taciturnity from this day on became more marked.
When the candles were lit, Landolin said:
This is her first night in the grave; I wish I lay beside her in
Thoma tried to comfort her father, but he said, looking at the
You will see, Anton will come to-day when he gets back from
Hoechenbrand. And if he does not come, do you know what I shall do?
I'll go to him to-morrow. I haven't a day to lose. 'Twould be better if
I were to go to-day; now.
Father, it's raining as hard as it can pour. You must not go
to-day; you are no longer young, and must not hurt yourself.
Very well; I'll do as you say. Say good-night to Peter for me.
The whole house was silent. Landolin and Thoma slept, overcome by
the fatigue of grief. But Peter tossed in his bed for a long time, and
did not find rest until he had resolved that he would again give all
honor and control of affairs to his father. He would do it, but would
not say so; for he had become again, and more than ever, the silent
The day awoke, but it did not seem like day; the rain had ceased,
but thick clouds enwrapped mountain and valley in deep shade.
When Landolin was again alone with Thoma, he said:
I'll not stay on the farm; I'll live with you at the mill. You will
take good care of me, and the Dutchman is just the right comrade for me
now. I'll not be useless or burdensome to you. Peter can take the farm
and pay you your portion. I think he has an eye on one of Titus'
daughters. I don't care. I've nothing against it. But I want to stay
with you the few years I have left; and when I die, bury me beside your
Thoma nodded silently; then she said: I would like to let the
judge's wife know how matters are between us now. She has been very
good to us.
That is very true; and we'll invite her to the wedding; and she
must lead the bride in the mother's place. Your mother in heaven will
rejoice in your happiness; she said so before, but she thought you
would bring Anton home with you then.
The bells rang, and Thoma said it was time to go to church, where
mass was to be said for her mother's soul. Landolin and his two
children went to church. Peter's silence couldn't strike any one, for
no one spoke a word.
When they came out of church, the clouds had disappeared, with the
exception of some small flaky ones that crept over the mountains.
Thank God, the sun has come again, each one thought; and their
sorrowful faces brightened.
In the yard Peter separated from his father and sister, and gave
orders, in brief words, for every one to go into the field, to bind and
stack the oats that were cut, and put them up to dry; then he went into
the stable. Landolin soon came out and ordered a horse to be saddled;
for he wanted to ride to the saw-mill to see Anton and his father.
Yes, father; but you can't take the bay mare: its colt is only a
few days old.
Then let me have the black horse.
Yes, father; but I really need him in the field, and
Peter shot a startled glance, perhaps also an evil one, at his
father, when he spoke these words so sharply, but he repeated them
still more sharply: And what? Speak out. You could speak well enough a
Peter was evidently struggling with his anger, when he replied, in a
I don't know why, but the black horse isn't good for riding now.
You can't ride him.
I can't? I can ride the wildest horse! cried Landolin, lifting his
clenched hand; and going to the stall, he unfastened the horse.
Landolin had said these words with no double meaning, but because
his pride was hurt by the hint that there was a horse which he was not
able to ride. But Peter understood the words to have a different
meaning; he thought his father had meant to say that he should be able
to get the better of him again.
The black horse was saddled; Landolin unchained his dog and mounted.
Thoma had come out into the yard, and her father gave her his hand,
saying, If we were not in mourning you should fasten a sprig of
rosemary on my coat with a red ribbon. The cows were just then let out
to drink, and Landolin cried, Thoma, you shall have the prize cow. May
God keep you! Peter, give me your hand. I'll often come up from the
saw-mill to see you.
He urged his horse forward, so that it reared and struck sparks from
the paving-stones at the very spot where Vetturi had fallen.
Landolin mastered it with a strong hand. His son and daughter
watched him from the gateway as he let the horse prance down the road;
their father appeared again in all his old stateliness; and where the
road bends into the forest toward the valley he turned around and
lifted his hat in greeting.
As Thoma turned again toward the house an open carriage drove up
from the other side, and in it sat the judge's wife with her brother
the counselor. They stopped and got out. They had come to comfort the
mourners, and the judge's wife heard, to her great joy, on what mission
Landolin had gone.
While Landolin was riding to the valley, Peter had saddled the other
horse for himself, had dressed himself in his Sunday clothes, and now,
wrapped in his mantle and noticed by no one, took the road to the city,
across the bridge that was almost covered by the water.
At the Crown Inn he ordered a pint of beer without dismounting. Then
he trotted up the opposite hill to the plateau where Titus lived.
Peter did not look around much, but once he stopped to observe a
strange sight; for on the rocks by the roadside were a large number of
hawks. There were evidently young ones among them, whom the old ones
were talking to, and encouraging to fly. They tried it, and in their
outcries there must have been great pride and happiness; the nest was
so narrow, the air is so wide, and prey that can be caught and killed
is flying everywhere. And when the young ones have learned to fly, they
care no more for the old ones.
Where are you going so soon? Peter was asked. The questioner was
Fidelis, his former servant, who was now in Titus' service.
Glad I've met you. Is Titus at home, and?
He was probably about to say, and his daughter too. But he kept
that part of it back. Fidelis said Yes; and without wasting another
word on him, Peter rode on.
Titus' farmhouse was not so isolated as Landolin's; there were
several cottages near by. Titus had bought the houses and fields
fromemigrants, and had added them to his farm. The gates were wide
open, and things were going on merrily inside. A large hog had just
been killed, and Titus' daughter stood beside it with her sleeves
There comes Peter of Reutershöfen, said the butcher, taking a
knife from between his teeth. What does he want so soon? His mother
was only buried yesterday.
Peter called out welcome to Titus' daughter, and jumping nimbly from
his horse, he held out his hand to her. But she said her hands were
wet; she could not give him one; and she disappeared.
Peter went into the living-room, where Titus sat at a large table,
figuring on some papers that lay before him.
Oh, that's you! he called out to Peter; you're come just in time
for butcher's soup. Sit down.
Peter did not use much ceremony, but told his wish. His mother was
dead; his father had gone to see Anton to-day to straighten out matters
for Thoma again; and was going to give up the farm and live with her at
the saw-mill. So, said Peter, in conclusion, you know what I want. I
need a wife.
You go ahead quickly, replied Titus; but I have no objection.
Have you already spoken to Marianne?
Not exactly; but I guess it'll be all right.
I think so too. Shall I call her?
Titus sent a maid for his daughter; but she sent back, asking her
father to come to her for a few minutes.
What does that mean? said Titus. He was not used to have his
children oppose any of his orders. Excuse me, he said to Peter; and
left the room.
Peter felt cornered: how would it be if he had to ride home
dejected? Perhaps he had a suspicion of what was going on between Titus
and his daughter; for she said:
Father, do you want me to take Peter? Yesterday his mother was
buried, and to-day he goes courting.
Titus declared that that was of no consequence, and when Marianne
began to express a dislike, an aversion, to Peter, he interrupted her
Peter is a substantial farmer. So there's nothing more to be said
about it. You must take him. Put on another dress and make haste to
He returned to Peter, and said, The matter is arranged.
But Marianne said to the old maid-servant in her bedroom, I take
him because I must; but he shall pay for it. He shall find out who I
She entered the room. Peter held out his hand to her, simply saying
that this was only for the present; that to-morrow or Sunday his father
would come and ask for her hand in the usual form.
Yes, your father, interrupted Titus. Does he know that you are
It isn't necessary for my father to know; the farm has been in my
hands for a long time, and I've only let him appear to be of some
consequence before the world.
Yes; but does your father know that I was one of those who said
No, he need never know it.
While they were speaking a man came with the message that Peter must
come immediately to Anton's saw-mill, for Landolin was in great danger.
Just as the butcher's soup was served, and Peter's mouth was
watering for it, he was obliged to leave.
The wild water rushes from mountain to valley. It flows and splashes
through all the ditches. Even through the middle of the road a small
brook has torn its way. It is all so merry, and to-morrow it will not
In the fields men work busily; every year they cut the grass and
grain. The forest trees grow many years, but at last the axe fells or
the storm uproots them. Only the earth, in which men are buried,
Down in the rapids, not far from the Devil's-kettle, lies an
uprooted pine. No one can pull it out. In the summer-time the ground
caves in; in winter the ice is too slippery. So this tree had stood
many, many years by the whirlpool, and had forced its roots into the
rocky bed. The water sprinkled upon it from the falls had nourished it
so richly; and now it is done with decaying. What a pity for the
fine, valuable tree! was really Landolin's last thought.
The black horse neighed loudly, then looked back at his master, who
held the reins so loose. Landolin straightened himself in the saddle
and tightened his hold on the bridle. See, there comes Cushion-Kate,
with a bundle of dry twigs. Landolin nodded approvingly at his own
Wait; I'm coming, he cried to Cushion-Kate. She stopped and threw
down the bundle of wood. Landolin sprang from his horse, and holding it
by the bridle, he said:
Kate, my wife is dead.
I suppose so; they buried her.
I want to talk kindly to you. Who knows how long either you or I
shall live? And in deep contrition he went on, in a low tone: You
have lost your son, and I am almost persecuted to death by my son. I
A devilish laugh interrupted him. The dog snuffed around the old
woman. Landolin called him away, and continued:
I would like to do something for you.
Then hang yourself! cried Cushion-Kate. Hastening to her bundle of
twigs, she unfastened the string.
There, there you have it! Hang yourself on the tree there. That's
the only thing you can do for me. I want to see you hanging.
Landolin mounted his horse again, and rode away. He did not look
around. He did not see how Cushion-Kate, with the cord in her hand,
hastened after him through the forest.
Landolin reached the valley. The stream has risen above its bed, but
there is the bridge, and just across is Anton's saw-mill.
The horse stepped gayly into the water that scarcely reached its
knee. The dog waded by its side, and often looked up at his master, as
though begging him to turn back. But Landolin rode on and on, and did
not look around when it splashed so strangely behind him. He reached
the bridge over which the water was already rushing. Just then
something like a noose wound itself about his neck. He looked round.
Cushion-Kate was clinging beside him to the horse. A struggle, a
wrench, splash! and Cushion-Kate's red kerchief appeared for a moment;
then nothing more was to be seen. Only the dog swam through the roaring
waters, down to the mill, and there sprang on land.
The judge's wife and her brother were just about entering their
carriage to return home, when a messenger came from Anton to say that
Thoma and Peter must come immediately to the mill. The messenger told
them that Anton had rescued the ex-bailiff from the water with great
danger to his own life, and that the horse was drowned.
But my father! Is he alive? asked Thoma.
The messenger said that when he left they were trying to restore
him, and he seemed to show signs of life.
The carriage was quickly turned round, for her guests wished to
accompany Thoma. Word was sent to the field for Peter to follow at
They drove down into the valley as quickly as the roads, torn and
damaged by the water, would allow. In the stream was a boat, and Anton
called from it:
He is alive!
The boat had to be taken far up the stream, in order that the
current might drive it to the other shore. Floating pieces of rafts and
forest trees with roots and branches made the journey across long and
Give me an oarI've seen how it's done, begged Thoma. Anton did
so; but the oar soon escaped from her hand and floated away.
Be brave and strong, as you always are, was all that Anton said to
When they reached the shore she hastily begged her friends to let
her go alone to her father. She could not say that she wished to keep
her father from seeing the counselor, although he was so kind and
Thoma hastened to her father. The old miller was with him, and
fortunately the physician also. The dog, on whose head Landolin's hand
was resting, stood by the bed. The miller was unfastening the spiked
collar, so that Landolin should not prick himself.
The physician motioned to Thoma to be quiet and keep at a distance,
and she heard her father moan out:
Where is she? Kate! Kate! Rope round the neck!
Thoma could control herself no longer, but ran forward, kneeled at
her father's bed and caught his hand.
'Tis good that you are here. That's right, said Landolin. Come
here, Anton: I have brought her for you, andthe forest is yours, and
the prize cow, and
He seemed to find no more words; he closed his eyes, but he breathed
calmly, and the physician made a sign of encouragement.
Just then the door opened. Landolin opened his eyes, and the judge's
Oh, that's good! cried Landolin, but suddenly perceiving the
counselor, he raised himself up, and screamed:
Keep off, glass eye! Keep off! Thoma! Anton!
He breathed his last. When Peter came he found only his father's
On the day of Landolin's funeral, Cushion-Kate's body floated to the
shore. She had a rope tightly clasped in her hand.
* * * * *
To-day Peter is master at the farm, but he is only called so; for he
is, they say, not master of a penny. He married Titus' daughter, and
she is said to be sharp-tongued; some even say a shrew.
Anton Armbruster is Burgomaster of Rothenkirch; and Thoma wears her
honors with becoming dignity.