What the Swallow Sang: A Novel by Spielhagen, Friedrich

Transcriber's Note: 1. Page scan source: http://books.google.com/books?id=uu89AAAAYAAJ&dq

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

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What The Swallow Sang







TRANSLATOR OF "_By His Own Might_," "_A Twofold Life_," _etc_.


Entered according to Act of Congress, in the year 1873, by HENRY HOLT, In the Office of the Librarian of Congress, at Washington.

Poole & Maclauchlan, Printers, 205-213 _East 12th St_., NEW YORK.

What The Swallow Sang.


"I won't give you any farther trouble, I can find what I want myself."

The sexton's wife looked at the gentleman in some little surprise, and then glanced at the bunch of huge keys which hung in the door she had just opened for the stranger.

"That's right; you need not be uneasy, I shall not stay long, and here is something for your trouble."

He pressed a piece of money into her hand, and turned towards the door.

"The Herr Pastor has strictly forbidden it," said the woman.

"He will have no objection," replied the stranger. "I will leave a few words for him."

He took his note-book and wrote a few lines. When he tore out the leaf he perceived on the other side a little sketch which he had dashed off that afternoon with a few hasty strokes, while his carriage stopped before a village inn.

A smile flitted over his grave features.

"That won't do," he murmured. "And here again, everything is filled with scrawls. Well," he added aloud, as he thrust the note-book back into his pocket, "I will write from P----. Please tell him so; farewell, my good woman."

The sexton's wife did not venture to make any reply, and turned away. The stranger looked after her retreating figure a few minutes. "Strange," he murmured, "it seems as if it would be committing a sacrilege to utter my name aloud in this place! It was really a relief to my mind that the woman did not know me. How we are all under the ban of gloomy feelings which we should be ashamed to confess to others! To be sure it is not strange that these emotions should almost overpower me here; here, in this spot which should be my home, where my cradle stood, and yet where I was not allowed to return until the grave had closed over him to whom I owe my life."

He had taken a few noiseless steps within the church, and now pausing, gazed around the narrow space. The sun, already low in the horizon, cast through the round, leaden-cased panes of the lofty narrow windows a mysterious light, which brightened or faded as the soft breeze raised or lowered the branches of the ancient linden-trees outside the walls. And thus, now clear now dim, but always sorrowful, the memories of his early years swept through the stranger's mind as he stood motionless, his eyes wandering over the massive white-washed walls, the few dusky pictures hung here and there at far too great a height, the little oaken font black with age, the altar with its two large brass sconces, and the pulpit, whose desk was covered with a tattered cloth. Everything was just as it used to be; he even remembered the holes in the cover, only it was all very much smaller, more poverty-stricken and tasteless than memory had pictured it. Yet this was the most favorable light,--what must it be in the broad glare of day! And his gloomy, sorrowful childhood,--what was it when he extinguished the magical light of memory, when he saw it as it really was, as a cold fanatical father had made it to the child so early bereft of a mother's love.

The traveller started from his revery as a sharp sound suddenly echoed through the quiet church as if something had burst asunder. It was the clock, which had just begun to strike. He passed his hand over his brow, mechanically counted the strokes and listened to the rumbling echo till the last sound died away. "Seven o' clock," said he; "it is time for me to set out again."

He walked around behind the benches, up a side aisle, on the right of the pulpit, until he reached the large iron door of the crypt. It was fastened, but on both sides, affixed to the wall, were the mural tablets of the pastors of Rammin, who had preached the gospel over the coffins of their predecessors whom they were some day to join. He went to the last stone and read the inscription, that here rested in God, Gotthold Ephraim Weber, D.D., installed in 1805 as Pastor of St. Mary's church in Rammin, born August 3d, 1780, died June 15th, 1833.

"Gotthold Ephraim Weber," murmured the stranger, "that is my name too, and I am also a Doctor of Theology. That I would not remain where my father placed me, but insisted upon taking the profession for which, according to my best knowledge and belief, I was born, separated him who now lies here from me forever. No, no, not that, at least that was not the true cause! I never understood in your sense what is written here: 'Blessed are those who die in the Lord.' We were never one, had been separated long before we parted. Well, father, at least let there be peace between us now. I wish with all my heart that you may have the bliss in which you believed; and say: 'blessed are the--dead,' so you certainly have the happiness in which I believe."

Gotthold made a gesture like one who holds out his hand in reconciliation. "Let us have peace now," he repeated.

A little bird, which had perched for a moment in one of the openings above the window, twittered so loudly that the sweet clear tones filled the silent empty church.

"I will take it as an answer," said Gotthold.

He left the building as slowly as he had entered it, and went down the broad path in the churchyard to a spot where, at a large iron cross, which also bore the inscription, "Blessed are those who die in the Lord," a narrow walk branched off towards the wall. Scarcely anything had been altered in this older portion of the cemetery; he still remembered every mound, every cross, every stone, and every epitaph; there at last was what he was seeking--the grave with the low wooden railing, the stunted weeping willow, the little slanting cross, neglected as ever, or perhaps even more so--his mother's grave.

He had lost her so very young, when he was only four or five years old, that he had scarcely the faintest shadow of personal remembrance; he had never seen a picture of her, and his father only mentioned her name when he said angrily: "You are just like your mother," yet perhaps for this very reason his fancy had always busied itself very frequently with this dead mother, who had been like him, and would certainly have loved him as he loved her dear shadow, until it almost assumed a bodily form. A dear, dream-like form, which came unbidden, and disappeared when he would so gladly have detained it longer.

He plucked a few leaves from the willow, but scattered them over the grave again.

"We need no mementos," he said; "we understand each other without any outward tokens, and it shall remain as it is, decay silently and gradually, as time wills. Who would be benefited by the most superb monument I could order from Thorwaldsen's master hand? Not you--what do the shades in Nirwana care for such earthly vanities--and not I. I shall never stand upon this spot again, and to others the stone would be only a stone. No, it is better so; it is in harmony with the place."

He looked up, and his artist's eye wandered over the graves, upon whose long grass, swaying in the soft breeze, the setting sun scattered rosy hues, to the ancient church, whose rude square tower still glowed in the purple light, while the main building was already in deep shadow.

"This scene and hour would make a beautiful picture," said Gotthold, "but I shall not paint it. That would efface it from my mind, and I wish to hold it fast there forever."

He closed his eyes a moment, and when he opened them did not look around again as he walked slowly, with his hands behind his back, through the narrow path to the gate. Suddenly he paused and involuntarily extended his hand towards two little graves close beside the path, whose inscriptions had caught his eye in passing. "Cecilia Brandow," "Caroline Brandow." The date of the birth and death of the children was also added in tiny characters, as small as the mounds themselves.

A strange emotion thrilled his frame. He had thought this was over, utterly effaced from his life, and that he could take the journey to the bedside of his dying father, which had become a pilgrimage to his parents' graves, without being disturbed by the vicinity of his early love. Nay, just now when he came out of the church door, he had gazed from this lofty stand-point over the wide landscape to the park of Dahlitz, through whose dusky trees gleamed the white gables of the mansion, and the past had remained mute. Now it flooded his soul like a torrent which has suddenly burst its bounds. Her children--and she herself was then scarcely more than a child! Her children. One, the eldest, had borne her name--the name which ever since those days had always had a peculiar, sacred association, so that he could never hear or read it without a strange thrill. Cecilia! Her children! Strange! Incomprehensibly strange! Incomprehensible as the death to which they had so soon fallen victims! She had wept and knelt at these graves with her husband beside her, the husband whose name was also inscribed in gilt letters upon these tablets, and who asserted his paternal rights in the Christian name of the younger: "Carl Brandow"! Did he too shed tears for his children? It was impossible to think of Carl Brandow's sharp, hard features wet with tears.

How the face of Gotthold's enemy--the only one he had ever had--rose in almost tangible outlines before his mind, while a sharp pang ran through the deep scar which, beginning under his hair, passed over the right temple, across the cheek, and even divided the heavy beard, the scar on whose account the sexton's wife, mindful of the words that marked people should be avoided, had been so unwilling to leave the stately stranger alone in the church. Was the wound going to bleed again--the wound that man's hand had dealt when both were schoolboys? Would it have been any miracle at that moment, when his heart was throbbing so violently, as if to say: The wound I have been struck is newer by some years, and much fresher and deeper, yet you see it is not healed as you supposed, and never will be!

"Never," said Gotthold, "never! Well, at least I will not touch it. And--the innocent children are not to blame, if there is blame anywhere. I wish. I could call them back to life for you, poor Cecilia, and may Heaven preserve those who I trust have been given you in their place!"

A figure clad in black, with a low broad-brimmed hat and white neck-tie, approached the churchyard from the parsonage. It was doubtless his father's successor, the new Pastor, who had returned from examining the school earlier than the sexton's wife expected, and come in search of the stranger who had inquired for him, and then ordered the church to be unlocked. In his present excited frame of mind Gotthold would gladly have avoided this meeting; but the reverend gentleman appeared to have seen him already, for he quickened his steps, and, as Gotthold now approached him, held out both hands, exclaiming: "Must we meet again under such sorrowful circumstances?"

Gotthold cast a puzzled glance at the beardless, plump white face of the man who now stood before him, clasping and pressing his hands; his watery blue eyes winking perpetually, either from emotion or because the setting sun was shining into them.

"Don't you know me, my dear brother?" asked the reverend gentleman; "didn't they tell you my name? August Semmel--"

"Surnamed Kloss,"[1] said Gotthold with an involuntary laugh. "I beg your pardon, I really had not heard your name, and then I have never seen you lately except in uniform, with a military cap on one side of your head, and your face covered with a beard; it is really an excellent mask."

Pastor Semmel dropped Gotthold's hands and hastily turned away, so that he placed himself in shadow.

"A mask," he said, rolling up his eyes piously; "yes indeed! and, as I now think, a very vain, not to say sinful one. I often scolded you then because you would not enter our corps, although you sometimes did not disdain to go to an ale--to amuse yourself with us, I mean; now I envy you for having had the power of self-renunciation I lacked."

"So Saul has now become Paul," replied Gotthold smiling, "while my journey to Damascus is still delayed."

"Yes, yes," said the Pastor. "Who would have thought it! The most industrious of us all at school, the most indefatigable at the university; always held up as a pattern by teachers and professors; when in the fourth session already cram--preparing us older ones for the examination, passing your own with great distinction, and all this--"

"For Hecuba! No, dear Semmel, you must not revile my art, although I freely admit I am but a poor artist as yet. But I can assure you of one thing: it is easier to pass a creditable examination in theology than to paint a good picture. I speak from experience; besides if I had remained a theological student, who knows whether the son might not have stepped into his father's place instead of you? That is to be considered too."

"There would have been a terrible competition," said Herr Semmel, "although on the other hand a prophet has little honor in his own country; and to be frank, when I was a candidate here--after I left Halle I spent four years in Lower Pomerania as a tutor in Count Zerneckow's family, and afterwards came to Neuenkirchen to relieve the old man, who had grown very garrulous, so that I thought I was positively settled--but he has entirely recovered his powers again, and so it happened very opportunely--what was I going to say? yes--when I applied for this place a month ago, and thought it would be an advantage to present myself as an intimate school and university friend of my predecessor's son, I found the recommendation was not satisfactory everywhere. Herr Otto von Plüggen of Plüggenhof--"

Gotthold could not help laughing. "I suppose so," said he, "I have often punched his stupid head when he went to school in P."

"You know I was in the first class, while you were still in the second," continued the Pastor in an apologetic tone, "and had entirely forgotten that you must have known each other; but when, warned by my experience with von Plüggen, I mentioned you more cautiously to several others, I found a certain, what shall I term it? hostility would be unchristian, but--"

"Let us drop the subject," said Gotthold somewhat impatiently.

"Certainly, certainly," replied the Pastor, "although you will be glad to hear that I took advantage of this very opportunity to speak of your generous gift to the poor of our parish, which--"

"But why did you do that when I particularly requested that my name should not be mentioned?"

"Because it is written: 'Thou shalt not hide thy light under a bushel;' and because it was the only way to silence the injurious report that had become associated with your name."

"Injurious report?" asked Gotthold.

"Why yes, because people knew that for the last seven years, ever since your uncle's death, you have been in possession of a large fortune, and yet your father--"

"Good Heavens! what could I do," cried Gotthold, "if my father obstinately refused all my offers? but I really cannot discuss this matter any farther. Besides, it is high time for me to set out, if I wish to reach P. in good season. Has Herr Wollnow arranged everything my father left according to your wishes? Unfortunately, I could not attend to it myself, since, as you have probably learned from him, I fell sick on my journey, and was forced to remain several weeks in Milan; but I wrote to him from there to carry out the wishes of my father's successor in every respect."

"Without knowing who that successor was!" exclaimed Herr Semmel; "yes, that's the way with you artists. Well, I have not been grasping. True, there were many valuable books on theology in your father's library which I would gladly have retained, and as you gave the purchaser permission to set his own price--"

"That is all right, my dear Semmel, and now don't come a step farther."

"Only to your carriage, which I saw standing at the door of the inn."

"Not another step, I beg of you."

They were standing at the churchyard gate, which opened into the village-street; but the Pastor seemed unable to release Gotthold's hand.

"For your own comfort, and the honor of your old schoolmates, I must add one remark in connection with our former subject of conversation. All were not guilty of such uncharitableness--I may surely be permitted to give it that name without being uncharitable myself. Some of them spoke very warmly in your praise; no one more so than Carl Brandow."

"Brandow! Carl Brandow!" exclaimed Gotthold; "it is certainly--"

"Certainly only his duty, if he tries to make amends to you for an offence committed in youthful thoughtlessness by everywhere asserting the truth, and declaring that the demon of avarice is the very last that could obtain dominion over you; and if your father died as poor as he had lived, it was undoubtedly--"

"Farewell!" said Gotthold, extending his hand across the low door to the Pastor.

"May God bless and keep you!" said the Pastor. "You ought to spare another hour to spend with an old friend."

Gotthold said no more. He had withdrawn his hand with almost uncourteous haste, and was now walking rapidly down the village-street, with his hat pulled far over his brows. Herr Semmel looked after him with a contemptuous smile on his fat face.

"The enthusiast!" said he; "it seems as if the ill-luck he has had has turned his brain. But no matter. People must cling to the rich. Carl Brandow is a sly fellow. He probably knows why, from the moment he heard he was coming back, he took a new key, and cannot say enough in praise of the man whom he once abused like a reed-sparrow. Perhaps he wants to try to borrow of him. Well, he certainly needs a loan. Plüggen says he is making his last shifts. He will be at Plüggenhof to-morrow. My news will make quite an excitement."


The long village-street was empty. Here and there an old woman appeared in the doorway of one of the low straw-roofed huts, or a few half-naked children played behind the tangled hedges in the neglected gardens; every one else had gone to the fields, for this was the first day of the rye-harvest.

The village-street was empty, and the swallows had free course. Up and down they moved in their arrowlike flight, now on the ground, now rising in graceful circles, straight lines, or zig-zag course, chirping, twittering, and unweariedly fluttering their slender wings.

Gotthold paused, pushed back his hat, which he had drawn over his eyes, and gazed as if absorbed in thought at the graceful little creatures, which he had loved from his earliest childhood. While he stood watching them, the angry displeasure roused by the Pastor's words gradually yielded to a strange melancholy.

"What the swallow sang, what the swallow sang," he murmured. "Yes, yes, it echoes through the village just as it did then:--

When I went away, when I went away, I left well-filled chests behind, But returning to-day, but returning to-day, Naught I find.

"I thought I understood it--but I had only read it with my eyes, not my heart, the heart of a lonely man, who after an absence of ten years returns to the sacred scenes of his youth to find what I have found to-day--the most painful memory of that which was once mine."

Up and down flew the swallows, now close to the earth, and now in a lofty curve over a loaded harvest-wagon which had turned into the principal street from an adjoining lane, and disappeared in a barn.

"How does it go on," said Gotthold:--

Back the swallows dart, back the swallows dart, And the chests again run o'er; But an empty heart, but an empty heart, Fills no more.

He passed his hand over his eyes to brush away the tears which constantly sprang into them, while a mournful smile played around his lips.

"It would be an amusing spectacle to my Roman friends if they could see me standing here crying like a schoolboy; and what would you say, Julia? The same thing that you did when I translated the song: That is all nonsense, my dear friend. How can a heart be empty? My heart has never been empty since I knew I had one, and now it is full of love for you, as yours is for me, you German dreamer. Then you stroked the hair from my brow, and kissed me as only you can kiss. And yet, and yet! If I loved you, Julia, it was only a feeble semblance of the passion I once felt, as the pale East just gleamed with rosy light from the reflection of the sunset glow in the western sky. I have parted from you, and my heart did not quiver as it did just now when I read on her children's gravestones the name of one now dead to me."

He extended his hands as if in benediction.

"Sing on your sweet sad song, innocent swallows! Go and return, bringing Spring to the barren fields and empty human hearts! May Heaven watch over you, my dear native meadows and beloved birthplace! In spite of all, you are as sacred to me as the memories of my youth!"

The carriage was waiting at the door of the village-inn. The coachman had merely loosened the curbs on the horses' necks, that they might eat the bread chopped into little squares more easily. He now pushed aside the movable crib, hastily gave them a drink from the half-emptied pail, and when Gotthold came up was already standing with the reins in his hand beside the door, which he opened with a friendly grin.

It was the first time he had shown his passenger such an attention. They had passed over the long road across the island--Gotthold, contrary to his usual custom, absorbed in gloomy thoughts, and by no means dissatisfied with the taciturnity of the driver, who sat motionless before him, hour after hour, his broad shoulders covered with a blue linen coat, somewhat white in the seams, stooping carelessly, and smoking a short pipe, which Gotthold did not forbid, unpleasant as the sickly odor of the weed often was.

He might therefore have some reason to be surprised when, just after they had left the village and were driving slowly along between the cornfields, on the narrow by-way that led to the main road, the broad-shouldered man suddenly turned, and showing his large white teeth, said in his Platt Deutsch accent:

"Don't you know me, Herr Gotthold?"

"No," said Gotthold, laughing, as he looked into the smiling face of the driver, "but you seem to be better acquainted with me."

"I've been thinking all the way whether it was you or not," said the man; "sometimes I thought it was, and then again that it wasn't."

"You might have asked."

"Yes, you may well say so, but I didn't think of it; that would certainly have been the simplest way. Well, it don't matter now; I know you--by that!" said the driver, drawing the handle of his whip over his face to mark the course of Gotthold's scar. "You ought to have been known by it this morning, for one don't see such things every day; but it's a long time ago, and such things often happen in war; besides, with your thick beard and brown, face, you look just exactly as if you had come from Spain, where no doubt they are fighting again; but when you stopped just now in Rammin, and went up to the parsonage without even asking a question, I said at once, 'Yes, it's certainly he.'"

"And you are--you are Jochen--Jochen Prebrow!" exclaimed Gotthold, cordially extending his hand, which Jochen, turning half-round on his seat, clasped no less heartily in his huge palm.

"To be sure," said he, "and you really didn't know me."

"How could I," replied Gotthold. "You have grown so tall and stout, although indeed in this respect you have only fulfilled the promise of your boyhood."

"Yes, that's so," replied Jochen, "but my sergeant in Berlin always said it was no vice."

Jochen Prebrow turned back to his horses. He had established the identity between his stately passenger and the slender playfellow of his childhood, upon which he had been reflecting all day, and was perfectly satisfied. Gotthold too was silent; it moved him deeply to think he could have travelled nearly all day with worthy Jochen, as if he had been a total stranger.

Jochen Prebrow, the son of the Dollan blacksmith! The pleasant days again rose before him when he left P. with Curt Wenhof for the holidays, which must always be spent in Dollan, and Jochen stood on the moor where the road branched off from the highway, waiting for them, and waving his cap; Jochen, who was well aware that his good times were coming with the pair, times of catching fish and snaring birds under the care of old Cousin Boslaf, to say nothing of a thousand wild, thoughtless pranks on land and sea for which Curt always undertook to be answerable to his good-natured father.

"And the young master is dead too," said Jochen Prebrow, again turning half-round on his seat, in token that having settled the principal matter, he was now ready to proceed to details.

Gotthold nodded.

"Drowned sailing on the Spree," continued Jochen, "and yet he was skilful as any sailor, and could swim like a fish; it was very queer, but he told me that he should come to such an end some day." He filled his pipe afresh.

"When did he tell you so?"

"He had come from Gr. to his sister's wedding, and afterwards was to go to Berlin and show whether he had learned his lessons, and he would probably have come off badly, for our young master was never fond of study. So he told me about it when we came back from P., where the wedding took place. I drove the carriage because old Christian was sick, and then we went at full speed to Dollan, where a great breakfast was served, and our young master had probably been drinking a little too much when he came out to the stable, threw himself down on the straw, and began to sob pitifully.

"What's the matter, young master?" said I.

"Ah! Jochen," he answered, "it's all up. I begged my father to let me be a farmer, for he would never make a lawyer of me; but he says we have nothing, nothing at all; he can't even pay my sister's dowry."

"Well, young master," said I, "that's not so very bad; you have a rich brother-in-law now who can certainly give you some money."

"But he started up, sprang upon me, seized me by the throat, and shook me till I was afraid for my life, crying: If you ever say another word about that,--well, it was an ugly word for a man to call his brother-in-law, especially our young master, who had always been so good-natured, but I said to myself, He's been drinking too much; for he wanted me to upset them when I drove them to Dahlitz; you know the place, Herr Gotthold, just before you get to the smithy, when the moor lies below you on the left, as you come down the hill. It's very easy to upset a carriage there so that the people inside will never get up again; but it's pretty queer business to upset your master's daughter on her wedding-day, and even if I'd wanted to do it I didn't drive them, after all, for Herr Brandow had ordered his own carriage with four horses; and Hinrich Scheel, who was his coachman then and is now, wouldn't upset them, for nobody can deny that he knows how to drive and ride."

Jochen Prebrow cracked his whip, and the horses, which had been advancing along the narrow by-way at a walk, trotted rapidly over the smooth broad high-road.

A short distance on the left appeared Dahlitz, the fine estate once the property of the ancient noble family to which Cecilia's mother belonged, but which had long since passed into the possession of the plebeian Brandow, and was now Carl Brandow's inheritance.

The highway, as Gotthold remembered, led directly through the estate, and for a considerable distance farther ran close by the wall of the park. His heart began to beat violently; his eyes wandered timidly towards the house, whose white front was already partially visible between the out-buildings. To pass so near her home, to let the only opportunity he might ever be offered escape thus, never, never to see her more!

Gotthold leaned back in the corner of the carriage, drawing the broad brim of his hat farther over his eyes; he would fain have ordered Jochen to turn back again. Meantime Jochen was driving on at a slow trot; it would soon be over. But just as they were passing the gates an empty harvest wagon came out so rapidly that the horses almost struck Jochen's. The latter swore, the farm hand swore, and some one standing in the courtyard swore also, Gotthold could not understand whether at his own man or the strange coachman--probably at both; but it was not Carl Brandow's clear voice, and the coarse fat man in top boots, who strode heavily forward to the gate, certainly bore no resemblance to Carl Brandow's slight, elastic figure.

Then Jochen again had a free passage for his frightened horses, which he reined in with considerable difficulty as they passed at full gallop by the low park wall, over which now and then one could obtain through the trees and shrubs a view of the pleasure-grounds, and even distinguish a broad handsome lawn which lay on one side of the mansion. On this piece of turf was a swing, in which two little girls were just being carefully pushed to and fro by their nurse, while a half-dozen other children of all ages gambolled upon the grass, their fresh voices ringing merrily on the quiet evening air. A stately lady moved among the group, with a little man dressed in black beside her, apparently the boys' tutor.

The picture was only visible a few seconds, but Gotthold's keen eye had seized it down to the smallest detail, and it was still in his mind when the carriage moved more slowly along the broad highway. His heart had trembled causelessly; she no longer lived here. Where was she now? He had not heard a word from home for so long--was she dead? She was to him, of course, and yet, and yet--

"That Redebas is a coarse fellow," said Jochen taking the reins in his left hand, "but he understands his business; he'll come out all right."

"So Dahlitz does not belong to Herr Brandow?" said Gotthold.

"Well, I declare," replied Jochen, pointing back with the handle of his whip into the gathering twilight, "didn't you hear anything yonder about what has been happening in this neighborhood?"

"Nothing, nothing at all, my dear Jochen. Who was to tell me?"

"To be sure," said Jochen, "writing isn't everybody's business, not mine for instance, and where you have been I suppose there were very few mails, and not much opportunity. My sergeant--he was one of the old soldiers--was in Spain too in 1807 and"--

"But I have never been in Spain," said Gotthold, "I was in Italy."

This objection was both unexpected and unwelcome to Jochen. He had fully made up his mind during the long hours that he had been reflecting whether his passenger was the son of the Pastor at Rammin or not, that if so, he must at any rate have come straight from Spain; for he had heard that Gotthold had given up "preaching" and was now living in a foreign country, and Spain was the only foreign country of which he had ever heard. So he sank into a profound revery, puffing huge clouds of smoke from his short pipe, and Gotthold, difficult as it was for him to do so, was compelled to repeat his question, as to where Herr Brandow was now living, several times.

"Why, where should he live except in Dollan?" said Jochen at last. "He has come down from a horse to a donkey, but that's always so when people want to sit so high in their saddles."

"And--and--his wife?"

It must be asked; but Gotthold's lips quivered as he put the question.

"Our poor young lady," said Jochen; "yes, when I drove her with four horses to P. for the wedding, she didn't dream the splendor would so soon be over. Yes, she is now in the old place again, and our old master and the young master are both dead, and her two oldest children too; she has only one left."

So she still lived, and lived in Dollan again, dear Dollan, the forest-girdled, sea-washed spot where he had spent the happiest and most wretched hours of his youth, the sacred and yet accursed place to which his dreams had so often led him in joy or sorrow, so that he woke with a happy smile on his lips, and also so often with tears in his eyes! For a moment it seemed as if she had been restored to him, as if the old days had returned. He saw the slender figure gliding through the shrubs in the garden at twilight, while he stood at the little gable window with a throbbing heart, hearing Curt repeat "mi" till he threw the grammar on the table, declaring that he should never understand the stuff, and they had better go down to the garden with Cecilia. Gotthold passed his hand over his brow and eyes. Had he spoken the loved name aloud? Had Jochen, who had resumed his interrupted story in the old monotonous tone, mentioned her name? Jochen did not know exactly how it had all happened, for he had been in Berlin with the army when Herr Wenhof died, and young Herr Brandow came in possession of Dollan in addition to his own estate of Dahlitz: then when Jochen was released from military duty, as his father and older brother were enough to attend to the business of the smithy, he took service as a groom with Peter the innkeeper at Altefähr, and only left the place when he drove travellers to Stubbenkammer or some other part of the island, which did not occur very often. Besides, it had never happened that his way led to Dollan, or very near it, for what stranger would want to travel so far away from the main road? He had not seen even the smithy since, and if his brother had not come to Altefähr once or twice, would have known nothing about how things were now going in Dollan. True, now he came to think the matter over, his brother had not told him much more than he had already learned from others; for Herr Brandow was famous for having the finest horses in all Rugen and Upper Pomerania, and came every autumn to the races at Str.; the noblemen would have hard work to beat him if he was only a plain citizen; and he would be sure to win the prize among all the gentlemen riders this year; for Hinrich had trained a horse for him whose match could not be found. One thing was certain, Hinrich knew more about horse-flesh than all the English trainers who cost the other gentlemen so much money put together, while others hinted that there was something not quite right about the matter, and Hinrich's squint eyes could make horses do anything he pleased. That there were such things, he being a blacksmith's son, knew very well; but it made a great difference whether they were honest arts, such as his father understood for instance, or whether another person he would not mention more plainly had a finger in the pie. People don't cross mountains with him; he makes them pay too dear for his extra horses. It had already cost Herr Brandow his fine estate, and they said he could not even keep Dollan much longer, and that the devil's horses were eating the hair from his head. Did Herr Gotthold believe in such things?

"No, no, no," said Gotthold, starting from his corner and sitting erect.

Jochen was obliged to fill his pipe, in order to think over quietly an answer so different from what he had expected. Gotthold did not disturb his meditations, but sat in silence, absorbed in thought, dreaming of what was, what might have been and never would be! Never? Yes, but not because fate does not will it; it is because human beings bring on this destiny, because they prepare it for themselves, because in dreams which thicken into realities, in wishes which become acts, they mould their own fate. Did she not, on the evening when she, her father, Curt, and himself, had made an excursion from Dollan to Dahlitz, return home with the wish to become mistress of the place her mother's family had so long possessed; How silently she walked through the stately apartments, while her large sparkling eyes wandered thoughtfully over the dark pictures on walls hung with faded silken tapestry, and the numerous carved ornaments on the chimney-piece, which seemed to her unaccustomed eyes a marvel of costliness! How softly she passed her hand over the damask curtains in the sleeping-rooms, how she buried her glowing face again and again among the flowers in the hot-house, as if intoxicated by the heavy perfume. With what interest she listened to that squint-eyed Hinrich, as he expatiated upon the merits of the noble horses whose light chain halters clanked against the marble cribs, and said it was such a pity for the young master to waste his time at the agricultural school, when he could employ it to so much better advantage here! And how indignantly she looked at the friend who fancied himself so dear to her, when with jealous malice he observed that Carl Brandow might come back all the sooner, since from all accounts he showed the same industry at the college as he had formerly done at school! Afterwards she had haughtily bantered the two friends as they stood on the lawn, but when she sat down in the large wooden swing--the same one where he had just seen the children--resting her beautiful head on one hand, while she carelessly played with the scarlet ribbons on her white dress with the other, and Gotthold approached to put it in motion, she started up and said, laughing, that such an ignorant girl ought not to trouble so learned a gentleman. He did not suspect what bitter earnest was concealed under the jest, and the next morning, when he was obliged to return with Curt to their institution of learning, he slipped under her chamber-door a bit of paper, on which he had written a free translation of one of Anacreon's odes:--

Skittish foal, I prithee why, Flashing fear from thy large eye, Cruel, dost thou mocking flee? "Fool! he nothing is to me."

Know for thee I soon shall bring And about thy proud neck fling The bridle, and with firm, tight rein, Swift-racing, spur thee o'er the plain.

Tarry now 'mid pasture-ground, Gayly frolic, lightly bound; But, my skittish foal, take heed! Thy right rider comes with speed.

The right rider! Alas! ere six weeks had passed, the right rider came!

It was a dark evening late in Autumn, like the present one. Men, women, boys and girls were all out of doors, for it was Saturday night, and the great wheat-field must if possible be mowed, the sheaves bound up and piled in heaps. They had paused to rest for half an hour, while waiting for the rising moon to disperse the dense clouds of mist and enable them to resume their interrupted task. Curt and he had busily helped the laborers, and even Cecilia tied up a few sheaves; then they carried the people the beer Cousin Boslaf had drawn from the huge cask. There had been shouting, singing, and jesting among the youths and maidens, but all had now become silent, and Herr Wenhof thought if they did not begin again soon the whole company would fall asleep, and then he should like to see the person who could get them on their feet again. But Cousin Boslaf said they must wait ten minutes longer until the moon shone clear, and Cousin Boslaf knew best. It grew more and more quiet, so quiet that the partridges thought every one had gone, and began to call loudly for their scattered families; so quiet that Gotthold fancied he could hear the beating of his own heart, as his eyes rested on the graceful figure that sat close beside him on a sheaf, so near that his hand might have touched her light dress, gazing up at the moon, whose white light made her face look strangely pale. But the dark eyes often flashed brightly from the pallid countenance, and a strange emotion thrilled the youth, as if a ray from the spirit-world had fallen upon him. Yes, from the spirit-world, where he hovered with his beloved, far above all earthly tumult, far as the pure fancy of a youth whose heart is full of a great, sacred love can soar. Oh! God, how immeasurably he loved her! How his whole being was bound up in this affection! How all his thoughts, feelings, emotions were merged into, carried away by, this passion! How every drop of blood that flowed through his throbbing heart glowed with this love! How every breath that passed over his fevered lips ever murmured: I love you, I love you!

And at this moment, when the heavens opened before his enraptured eyes and he gazed into the region of the blest--at this moment the blow was to fall, which closed the gates of the Paradise of his youth forever, and destroyed for years his faith in the sacred feeling that dwells securely in the human breast. "Some one is coming on horseback," old Boslaf said, approaching the group, and pointing towards the forest. No one else perceived anything; but that proved nothing, for the old man could hear the grass grow. Cecilia started up, went forward a few steps, and paused to listen, and Gotthold saw her press her hand upon her heart. His own stood still.

He and Curt had not been to Dollan during the weeks before the examination, now successfully passed, and he had heard nothing of all that had happened there except that one day Curt casually mentioned that Carl Brandow had returned; but now he knew everything. The horse, whose rapid hoof-beats he also distinguished, was not bearing Carl Brandow over the miles that intervened between Dollan and Dahlitz for the first time. Now he knew what the altered expression of her features, which had attracted his attention that day, meant--the dreamy softness that suddenly yielded to a strange excitement; he knew all, all,--that his temple was ruined, his sanctuary profaned. He stood apart, unable to move, while the others surrounded the rider, who had swung himself from his horse,--the slender rider, who now disengaged himself from the group--but not alone! They passed close by without noticing him, he with his arm thrown around her waist, bending down and whispering to her, she nestling to his side, every line in their figures clearly relieved against the bright moonlight; then he saw and heard nothing more, and afterwards could only remember that he lay long in a dull, terrible despair, in a place far from that spot, on the edge of the dark forest, and then started up and staggered through the silent, sultry woods as if in a horrible dream, sometimes crying aloud like a tortured animal, until he at last emerged from them upon the shore of the sea, which stretched before him in a vast, boundless expanse in the shimmering moonlight. Here he again threw himself down on the sand, but now tears came to his relief--burning tears which, however, flowed more and more gently, as if the lapping of the waves was a lullaby to the poor quivering heart. At last he rose to his knees, extended his arms, and in a long, fervent prayer, to which the roaring of the sea murmured an accompaniment, told the universal mother, who will never desert her child, that he would always love her with boundless affection. Just then old Boslaf suddenly stood beside him,--he had not heard his approach, nor did the old man say anything,--and they walked silently along the strand until they reached the old man's lonely little house among the downs. There he made him a rude couch carefully and silently, and mutely smoothed his damp hair with his hand, when he lay down to rest for an hour and looked at the moonlight which shone through the low window on the wall and glimmered upon the weapons, stuffed birds, nets, and fishing-rods, until the rustling of the treetops on the shore and the low murmur of the sea lulled him to sleep.

Gotthold awoke from his dream. The carriage was standing still, and the horses were snorting as they looked into the forest, through which the road led for a short distance. It was perfectly dark, save that here and there a ray from the moon, which had just risen, trembled through the dense foliage of the beeches.

"Why, what's the matter with the cursed jades?" said Jochen.

There was a rustling and crackling in the thick underbrush on the right-hand side of the road; the noise grew louder, approached nearer and nearer, until, like a hurricane, a dark, compact, moving mass burst through the bushes and crashed into the undergrowth on the other side. It was scarcely seen before it disappeared, while the horses, in frantic terror, reared in the harness and swerved aside, so that it was only by the most violent efforts that the two men, who had sprung from the carriage, could control them.

"The confounded wretches," said Jochen, "the same thing happened to me once before in this very spot. The Prince ought to do something about it; but it gets worse every year, and if old Boslaf didn't often thin them out a little it would be unbearable. There, hark!"

The report of a musket rang through the forest at some distance on their left, whither the wolves had taken their flight.

"That was he," said Jochen, in a low tone; "he only needs to whistle and they run straight within reach of his gun. Yes, yes, Herr Gotthold, you said just now that there was nothing of the kind; but you'll make an exception of old Boslaf. He can do more than one trick which no honest Christian can imitate."

"So the old man is still alive?" asked Gotthold as they drove cautiously on through the forest.

"Yes, why shouldn't he be?" replied Jochen, "they say he can live as long as he likes. Well, I don't believe that; his end will probably come some day, though I may not be here; but this I do know, that people who knew him fifty years ago say that he looked just the same then as he does now."

"And he still lives in the house on the beach?"

"Where else should he live?" asked Jochen. They had emerged from the forest and moorland upon the beautiful smooth highway, which, lined with huge poplars, announced to the weary traveller the vicinity of the capital. It was still an hour's journey, but the road sloped gradually downward, and the horses, well aware that their long day's work was over and their cribs close at hand, collected all their strength and trotted briskly onward. The crescent of an increasing moon floated in the deep blue sky, shedding a pure radiance; here and there a flickering reddish light in the dark landscape marked the situation of some mansion house or lonely peasant hut. And now a brighter glow shimmered from the hill up which the road led. Stately houses gleamed forth from amid the dark foliage of the trees and bushes, the horses' hoofs rang upon a stone pavement, and a few moments after the carriage stopped before the "Fürstenhof," whose host welcomed the late arrival with northern cordiality.


Gotthold had expected to reach P. at an early hour; it was now nearly ten o'clock, too late to pay the visit he had promised Herr Wollnow by letter, yet in spite of the time the gentleman might perhaps be waiting, and what he had to settle with him could be despatched in a few minutes. Then the minor object of his journey would be accomplished and he could set out again early the next morning; he would have preferred to go on that night.

The ground seemed to be burning under his feet. The events of the last few hours, the meeting with the playmate of his youth, and his communications, had roused the greatest agitation in his mind. As he passed down the quiet street towards the house of his business acquaintance, he paused several times under the dark trees, gasping for breath, and made a defiant gesture, as if he could thus repel the ghostly throng of memories that hovered around him.

"Thank God that now at least you are sure not to meet an old acquaintance again," he said to himself, as he rang the bell at the door of one of the handsomest houses upon the market-place.

"Herr Wollnow is at home," said the pretty young servant-maid, "and--"

"Bids you a most hearty welcome," interrupted Herr Wollnow, who at that moment came out of his counting-room, and extended a broad, powerful hand to his guest. "I am very glad to make your acquaintance at last, though I deeply regret that the occasion should be so sorrowful. Have you supped this evening? No? Why, that is capital; neither have I. To be sure, you must be contented with my company, at least for the present; my wife has a meeting of her great society to-day. She did not want to go, for she is very anxious to renew her acquaintance with you, or rather make it, as I say; for you will hardly remember her. She promised to be back again at ten o'clock; but I know what that means,--we shall have an hour to ourselves."

Gotthold apologized for his late arrival, but said that he had thought it better to come late than not at all, especially as he intended to set out again early the next morning, if possible.

"I think you will allow us to keep you with us a few days," replied Herr Wollnow; "yet time is money, as Englishmen say, so we will devote the time Stine needs to prepare supper to money matters. I have set everything right." Herr Wollnow invited Gotthold to take a seat upon the sofa in the little private office, and sat down beside him in a leather-covered arm-chair at the round table, on which various papers lay arranged in the most methodical order.

"Here are the documents that concern your late father's legacies," he continued. "I have had wonderfully little trouble in executing the orders you sent me from Milan. The ready money amounted only to a few thalers, and as to furniture and other household appurtenances, the hermits of the Theban wilderness could not have possessed much less than satisfied your father during the latter years of his life. The only really valuable portion of his property was the library, and here I took the liberty of deviating a little from your commands. You had intended that the whole profit derived from the sale should be given to the poor of the parish, and also that your father's successor should be permitted to set his own price upon the books that pleased him, undoubtedly in the supposition that the gentleman would make a proper use of this favor. But that was not the case with Pastor Semmel. He believed in making hay while the sun shone; he not only wanted all the best, but wished to take advantage of the opportunity, and if possible get them for nothing. In a word, your two intentions could not be reconciled, and as I doubtless rightly supposed that the poor people would be nearer your heart than the Pastor, although he made a great ado about the intimacy that had existed between you at the university, and I believe even at school, I offered everything, with the exception of a few insignificant trifles I was obliged to leave with him, to a respectable firm which dealt in secondhand books, and after considerable bargaining came to an understanding with them. We obtained a large sum, as I wrote you, and if you are as well satisfied as the poor people in Rammin, I need not be ashamed of the way in which I carried out your command."

An amused smile flashed from Herr Wollnow's dark eyes as Gotthold warmly pressed his hand.

"I repeat, it was very little trouble," said he, "and I would have taken a hundred times as much with pleasure for a man to whom I am so greatly indebted."

"You so greatly indebted? To me?"

"To you, certainly. If, when you entered into the possession of your property five years ago, you had withdrawn the ten thousand thalers invested in my business, as I earnestly advised you to do, I might not now be in the pleasant situation of being able to return the money to you with my warmest thanks."

"For Heaven's sake," cried Gotthold, pushing back Herr Wollnow's hand, which was extended towards a larger package fastened with an India-rubber band.

"I have put aside the money at any rate," replied Herr Wollnow, "in cash and in good bonds."

"But I don't want it now, any more than I did then."

"Well," said Herr Wollnow, "I cannot persuade you to take it as earnestly as I did five years ago. To-day--I may venture to say it confidently--the money is perfectly safe, and I can give you the highest rate of interest. Then, when I was establishing a new business here under very peculiar circumstances, and in consequence of the impossibility of relying upon my business associates,--I mean the capitalists of this place--a crisis might occur at any moment, I only did my duty when I advised you to intrust your money, if not to more honest, to safer hands. Well, you would not hear of it; would have me keep the money; nay, I even believe I might have had it without interest."

"You will admit, Herr Wollnow, that in so doing I carried out my uncle's views."

"I don't know," replied the merchant. "Your uncle had a personal interest in leaving the money in my hands. The great profits which accrued to the business in Stettin through the new connections I formed, and I may say created here, were so important that they far outweighed the risk of a possible loss. But when your uncle gave you the free disposal of the property by will, he acknowledged that an artist's interests are and must be different from those of a business man."

"Why yes, the interests of his art," replied Gotthold earnestly; "I never had and never shall have any others. In this feeling, and this alone, after I had recovered from my first astonishment, I joyfully welcomed the rich inheritance that fell to my lot so unexpectedly."

"I know it," replied Herr Wollnow; "the assistance I have given from your property to that poor deserving Brüggberg during the last three years proves it, and he will not be your only pensioner."

"It has proved as fortunate for him as for me that help came in time," replied Gotthold.

He supported his head on his left hand, and mechanically drew arabesques on a sheet of paper that lay before him, while he continued in a lower tone:

"And it was also quite time for me. For two years in Munich I had already devoted every hour and moment I could spare from the labor of earning a livelihood, to art, beloved art, which is so infinitely coy to a tyro, especially one who is compelled to begin after his one-and-twentieth year. My strength was almost exhausted; I had seen the last star of hope disappear; nothing bound me to life except a sort of defiance of a fate which I thought I had not deserved, and the shame of appearing to rush out of this world like a simpleton, in the eyes of those who had aided me to live. How distinctly I remember the hour! I had returned to my little attic room towards nightfall, from the studio of a famous artist to which an acquaintance had procured me admittance, with a soul filled to overflowing with the mighty impressions produced by works of the greatest genius, and yet utterly exhausted, for I had resolved a few days before to give up no more lessons, even if I starved, and I was almost starving. I placed myself before my easel, but the colors blended into one confused mass. The palette fell from my hand; I staggered to the table to pour out a glass of water, and--there lay the letter which informed me that I had been made the heir of a relative whom I had never seen, and was the possessor of a fortune which, at a casual estimation, amounted to more than a hundred thousand thalers. What was more natural than that in this wonderful moment I should make the vow: this shall belong to Art, and to you only so far as you are an artist."

"Nothing is more natural and simple," said Herr Wollnow; "but that you should have kept the oath, and I know you have done so, is--as we children of Adam are now constituted--not quite so natural and simple. But now, as the business matters are settled, we will, if agreeable to you, talk more comfortably over a glass of wine."

Herr Wollnow opened the door of a spacious apartment handsomely furnished as a half dining, half sitting room, and invited his guest to take a seat at the table, which was covered with a snow-white cloth, and furnished with all sorts of dainties served in valuable china, and several bottles of wine. As Gotthold sat down, his eyes wandered over several large and small oil paintings which were skilfuly arranged upon the walls.

"Pardon an artist's curiosity," said he.

"I understand little or nothing of your beautiful art," replied Herr Wollnow, as he fastened a napkin under his fat chin; "but my wife is a great amateur, and, as she sometimes persuades herself, a connoisseur. You must give her the pleasure of showing you her treasures. I am afraid the little collection will not find much favor in your eyes, with the exception of one picture, which I also consider a masterpiece, and which is greatly admired by all who see it."

Gotthold would gladly have gone nearer to the paintings; one of them which hung at some little distance, seemed strangely familiar, but Herr Wollnow had already filled the green glasses with odorous Rhine wine, and a robust elderly woman came noisily in with a platter of freshly broiled fish in her red hands.

"Stine says that you were always particularly fond of flounders," said Herr Wollnow, "and so she would not give up the pleasure of offering you your favorite dish herself."

Gotthold looked up at the stout figure, and instantly recognized good Stine Lachmund, who, during his boyhood, had almost kept the house at Dollan in the place of its invalid mistress, and after her death managed affairs entirely alone, yet had always maintained a good understanding with the boys and all the world, in spite of the many difficulties of her position.

He held out his hand to his old friend, who, after putting the platter on the table, and wiping her red fingers on her apron in a most unnecessary manner, grasped it eagerly.

"I was sure you would know me again," said she, her fat face beaming with delight. "But goodness gracious, how you have altered! What a handsome man you have grown! I should never have known you again!"

"So I used to be desperately ugly, Stine?" asked Gotthold, smiling.

"Why," replied Stine, with a grave, questioning glance, "you had handsome blue eyes, it is true; but they always looked so large and sorrowful that it made one feel badly, and then your little thin face was divided by a scar from there to there--it looked terribly; such a good boy, too, it was too outrageous--"

"All that has been forgotten long ago," said Gotthold.

"And a big beard has grown over it," added Stine.

"Yen can tell Line to bring in a bottle of the red seal," said Herr Wollnow, who thought he perceived that his guest wished to cut short this recognition scene. "You must pardon me," he continued, turning to Gotthold, when Stine had gone out after again shaking hands, and the pretty young maid-servant, who moved noiselessly to and fro, began to wait upon the gentlemen, "you must pardon me for being unable to spare you this little scene. The good woman was so delighted to hear of your coming, and a man who returns home must make up his mind to meet familiar faces at every step."

"I have experienced that to-day," replied Gotthold; "your wife, too, you said--"

"Is proud of having known you when you were not a famous artist, but a diffident boy about thirteen years old, who obstinately refused to take part in a dance which some aristocratic mammas had arranged with difficulty, and then joined it when he heard that no one else would dance with little Ottilie Blaustein. She has never forgotten your magnanimity."

"And she--Fraulein Ottilie--"

"Has been my wife for six years," said Herr Wollnow. "You look at me with discreet astonishment; you have quickly calculated that the little dancer of those days cannot now be much more than twenty-five, and you set me down very correctly at some years over fifty--we will say fifty-six. But we Jews--"

"Are you a Jew?" asked Gotthold.

"Of the purest descent," replied Herr Wollnow; "didn't you perceive that, when I locked your money up in my desk so quickly just now? Of the purest Polish descent, although out of love for my wife, who declared that she had suffered enough from Judaism, and also from business motives, I have taken the step, a very easy one for me, from one positive religion which was indifferent to me, to another that was no less so. But I was going to say that we Jews, or we men who are educated in the Jewish faith, are as unromantic in regard to marriage as everything else, but we keep to the law; I mean by that the law of nature, which is not at all romantic, but very sober, and consequently all the more logical."

"Then you think that a great difference between the ages of the husband and wife is one of the laws of nature which should be strictly observed?"

"By no means, only that under certain circumstances it is no impediment."

"Certainly not, but--"

"Allow me to explain my opinion by some statistics. I am descended from a very long-lived family. My grandfather--he could not tell either the place or time of his birth positively--must have been more than a hundred years old when he died, blind and crippled, it is true, but with his mental powers almost entirely unimpaired. My father was ninety. I, who no longer needed to toil and moil for myself, was able six years ago, when in my fiftieth year, to marry, and thus I have the expectation of seeing my little family, even if an addition should be bestowed upon us, grow up to maturity, supposing that I attain my eightieth year, to which, as you will admit, I have on the father's side the most well-founded title."

Herr Wollnow rested his broad shoulders comfortably against the back of his chair, and passed his hands over his high forehead and thick black hair, in which Gotthold could not yet perceive the smallest thread of gray. "That is," said he, "if I understand you rightly, marriage ought to be in the first place arranged for the welfare of the children, and therefore it is only necessary to consider the signs of the times in and for which the children are born."

"Certainly," replied Herr Wollnow; "in the first place, I might almost say in the first and last."

"And the husband and wife?"

"Ought and will find their pleasure in their love for their children, their joy in the new fresh world which surrounds them, as well as a sufficient compensation for all lost illusions, and a reward for the anxieties and deprivations which necessarily spring from this love and joy."

"And their own love, the love which brought them together, which induced them to make this particular choice out of the countless multitude of possibilities--the love which ever increases and must continue to increase until it finally illumines every thought, heightens every feeling, warms every drop of blood--would you take this from marriage, or consider it as something which may or may not exist? Never! 'Love is everywhere, except in hell,' says Wolfram von Eschenbach. I know not whether he is right, but I do know that a marriage where there is no love, nay, where love does not exist as I understand it, is in my eyes a hell."

Gotthold had spoken with a passion which, eagerly as he strove to suppress it, had not escaped the keen ears of his host.

"Let us change the subject," he said kindly, "and try another upon which we shall certainly find it easier to agree."

"No, let us keep to this," replied Gotthold; "upon so important a subject I am anxious to hear the opinion of a man whose judgment and character I prize so highly--the full opinion; for I am sure you have still much to say."

"Certainly," replied Herr Wollnow hesitatingly; "a great deal, but I fear very little that will please you, as you now think of marriage. I say as you now think, and beg you not to misunderstand me; for you, who have grown up among romantic traditions, and, as an artist, are perhaps especially disposed to take an ideal view of human affairs, can probably not be induced to give up your preconceived opinion except by your own experience. But no matter; I should need to be far less firmly convinced of the justice of my own opinion than I am, or to esteem my opponent less than I do if I allowed your last proposition to pass without contradiction. You said that without love, as you so eloquently described it, marriage would be a hell; I assert that this very love, or rather the unrealized dream of this love, makes a hell of many, far too many marriages."

"Unrealized," said Gotthold; "oh! yes, that is just what causes the unhappiness."

"An unavoidable one, or at least in many cases not to be avoided. You will admit that most marriages must commence with this illusion, which is more or less vivid according to the nature and imaginative power of the dreamer. There are so few persons who do not desire to be specially rewarded for paying their debts to nature and society. When they perceive that the question of marriage concerns a very different object from the realization of their dreams, and that this object is the more easily attained the less they give themselves up to fancies, the majority, of course, will at first rub their eyes in some little perplexity, but no longer take the affair tragically, but as it is; and these are the marriages which I--with all due respect for humanity, which certainly consists of average mortals--call average marriages, and which in Germany, England, America, nay, even in France and Italy, wherever I have wandered in the civilized world, I have always found as much alike as two eggs. It is, take it all in all, very dry, but very healthful prose; there is much modest quiet happiness, and of course also much, very much sorrow; but none which would not befall a human being as such. I mean the frail, easily injured creature at last doomed to death--and very little which results from the marriage. But this misery is found in overwhelming measure when people wish to realize, nay to transform into a still more brilliant reality, the dream they have enjoyed as lovers. How many heart-breaking conflicts, how many vain struggles, how much strength wasted which was greatly needed for far more important purposes, how much senseless and useless cruelty towards one's self and others! You see I speak only of those who take life earnestly, not of the multitudes of stupid people who are incapable of any moral idea, nor of the, if possible, still greater number of frivolous natures; who snap their fingers at all morality."

"I know it," replied Gotthold; "but why should not earnest, honorable human beings, when they become conscious of their mistakes, seek to cast out the errors that have crept into the score of their lives while there is time?"

"In what way?"

"By restoring each other's freedom."

"Freedom? What freedom? The liberty of chaining themselves again as soon as possible, of making another choice at once if, as is usually the case, they have not previously done so; a new choice which will probably prove no wiser, no more circumspect, than the first? Consider, we are speaking of earnest, honorable human beings! Well, they doubtless went earnestly and honorably to work in making their first choice, and if, in spite of all their earnestness, they went astray where they could choose freely and without embarrassment, they certainly would the second time, when burdened by the weight of self-created suffering, blinded by a treacherous passion. If a new clerk begins the first calculation I allow him to make on an entirely false principle, I may not send him away, but I never intrust any important matter to him again without watching him. And--while there is time--did you say? When is there time? Perhaps never, if two people have belonged to each other body and soul--for earnest, honorable people will give their souls to each other--perhaps never, and certainly not after; and here I come back to the point from whence I started--after the bond which thereby becomes a hallowed one has been blessed with children. Believe me, I could make many other remarks upon this subject: the chasm that severs the parents goes through the hearts of the children; they will feel the gulf painfully sooner or later, and never wholly cease to suffer from it, if--which to be sure is not always the case--they have hearts."

"And will not a child's heart be torn," cried Gotthold, painfully agitated, "will it not bleed at the thought of its parents who have lived together in torment, and wasted away in this torture?"

"They would not have wasted away," replied Herr Wollnow, "if they had come to an understanding with each other in my acceptation of the term; if they had always said to each other, and kept faithfully in their hearts the thought: for our children's sakes we must not despond, must bear our sorrows, must sacredly keep the ledger of our lives, and, if any error has actually crept in, calculate and calculate until we have found it. Who in the world should be responsible for the result except the person to whom the book was intrusted? And then there is also a bankruptcy from which the unfortunate sufferer comes forth impoverished, perhaps a beggar, with nothing to cover his nakedness except the consciousness: you have done your duty, met your obligations. Woe to him who cannot think this of his parents: well for him who can think and say so; who by their graves can weep sorrowful but sweet tears, and pass on in peace."

Gotthold's head was resting on his hand. Let us have peace, he had said to his father's shade, and sorrowful but sweet tears had fallen from his eyes upon his mother's grave. Would they have been less sweet if she had left the father who could not make her happy, if she had sought and perhaps found joy in another's arms?

Herr Wollnow's dark eyes rested upon his guest's noble features, now shadowed by gloom and doubt, with an expression of mingled compassion and severity. Had he said too much, or not enough? Should he be silent, or ought he to say more, and tell the young man who so closely resembled his mother, and yet had so much of his father's character, the history of his parents?

Just then the door-bell rang, and at the same moment his wife's voice sounded from the entry. She was a woman to quickly inspire other and gayer thoughts in men's minds, even if the conversation had taken a grave and critical turn.


"I beg you to excuse me a thousand, thousand times," cried Fran Wollnow from the threshold of the door.

"That makes two thousand," said her husband, who with his guest had risen to meet her.

"You shan't always reckon up everything, you bad man."

"But take no notice of anything--"

"And you shan't always interrupt me and spoil my prettiest speeches. I had thought of the most charming things to say to our guest."

"Perhaps they begin with good evening?"

"Why, of course; good evening, and welcome, you are most heartily welcome," said Frau Wollnow, extending two plump little hands to Gotthold, and looking up into his face with the most eager curiosity in her brown eyes. "Dear me, how you have grown, and how much you have improved!"

Gotthold could not return the compliment. Ottilie Blaustein seemed to him to have grown much stouter, but neither taller nor handsomer than when he last saw her. Nevertheless the plump, somewhat flushed face beamed with mirth and good-nature, and it was by no means difficult for him to respond to the cordial greeting of his old acquaintance with no less warmth. She begged the gentlemen to sit down again; she would, with their permission, take a seat with them, and beg for a glass of wine, for she had been obliged to talk so much that evening that she was very thirsty. Then she instantly started up again, and asked her husband in a half whisper whether he had already showed it to him, in reply to which mysterious question Herr Wollnow smilingly shook his stately head. "I would not spoil your pleasure," said he.

"You good Emil!" she exclaimed, hastily kissing her husband on the forehead, and then turned to Gotthold. "Come, I must give you a proof that you obliged no ungrateful person when you enabled the little Jewish girl to join the dance. See, I bought this in remembrance of you, and would have purchased it if it had been as worthless as it is valuable, and as dear as the price for which I obtained my treasure was nominal."

She had seized a candle, and now led Gotthold to the landscape which had already attracted his attention, even across the room. The latter started, and with difficulty suppressed an exclamation of surprise and pain.

"It is Dollan, isn't it?" said Ottilie.

Gotthold made no reply; he took the candle from the lady's hand, and held it so that the light fell upon the picture, which was hung rather too high. Yes, it was the very one into which he had painted his love and anguish, the picture of which he had just spoken to Herr Wollnow, that had been upon his easel on the evening which had made such a wonderful change in his life. To prove to himself that he had irrevocably broken all ties with his past, and must now begin a new phase of his life and struggles, he gave away the sketch and did not destroy the picture, but very prosaically presented it to an exhibition, from which it went to another, then to a third and fourth, and was finally sold, he did not know where or to whom, nor did he wish to know; it should disappear to him. And yet during all this time he had been unable to shake off the recollection of this picture. He could have painted it again from memory, but it would not have been the one hallowed by so much suffering. And he must find it again, here and now, when his soul was already so full of the magic fragrance which everything he saw and heard bore to him from the days when every breath that swept across »his brow or fanned his cheek, exhaled the odor of pine trees, of the ocean, and of love.

"And how do you suppose I obtained it?" said Frau Wollnow; "and especially how do you suppose I found out it was yours; for you know we do not judge from the style, or at least I did not at that time. But when people are to have a piece of good fortune! So I said to Cecilia Brandow, whom I--it is now six years ago, and I had just been married--met at the wool market in Sundin, I had almost said; but of course only the gentlemen went there, and we drove in with them on account of the exhibition, where I met her. We had so much to say, like any two friends who had not seen each other since they left boarding-school--you perhaps do not remember that Cecilia and I were in the same boarding-school at Sundin--or at least I had a great deal to say, for I found Cecilia very quiet. I believe she had lost her second child only a short time before. We were separated by the crowd, and I at last found her again in one of the most out-of-the-way rooms, standing alone before this picture with her eyes full of tears, which, as I came up, she tried to conceal."

"Good Heavens!" said I; "isn't that--"

"Yes," she replied; "and it is by him."

"By whom?"

"In a word, she had recognized it instantly, and would not admit that she was mistaken when I told her the 'G. W.' in the corner might be Heaven knows whom. You see I didn't understand much about pictures then--now when I--but your hand trembles, you cannot hold the candlestick any longer."

"Let me have the picture," said Gotthold; then perceiving that the husband and wife were looking at him in surprise, he added calmly, replacing the candlestick upon the table: "The painting is really not worthy to be hung among your other pictures, which are excellent. It is the work of a pupil, and moreover was painted from memory after a very hasty sketch, I will promise you another and better one of the same place, which I will make on the spot if you will--"

"Oh! that would be delightful, that would be splendid," exclaimed Frau Wollnow. "I will hold you to your promise: another, not a better one, you can't make it better, that is impossible; but to have a picture painted on the spot by the most celebrated landscape painter of the day will be a triumph of which I can boast all the rest of my life. Give me your hand upon it!" She held out both hands to Gotthold.

"Well," said Herr Wollnow, "the bargain is made, and now according to the good old custom we will seal it with a drink. You see, Herr Gotthold Weber, woman's wit surpasses priestly cunning. I might have preached a long time to induce you to remain here; my wife comes, and the timid bird is caught. Well, I am glad of it, heartily glad."

"And how delighted Cecilia will be," cried Frau Wollnow. "My poor Cecilia! she really needs something to divert her thoughts a little, and this will be so pleasant." Gotthold turned pale. When he made his over-hasty promise, the thought of thus creating a convenient pretext for seeing Cecilia again had certainly been farthest from his mind.

"I think we can spare our friend the trouble of the journey," said Herr Wollnow, "and you will be perfectly well satisfied with a copy."

"You certainly know that we are not talking about a copy, but a new, entirely new picture," exclaimed Ottilie. "But you understand nothing about it, my dear Emil, or he doesn't want to understand."

"I only do not want to send our friend away again immediately, but to keep him with us."

"Tell the truth, Emil, tell the truth," said Frau Wollnow, shaking her finger at him. "The fact, Herr Weber, is simply that he can't bear Brandow, Heaven knows why. To be sure I can't either, and have no reason for it except that he always teased me at the dancing lessons in his malicious way. But I care nothing about him, only his angelic wife."

"And since husband and wife are one--"

"If everybody thought as you do, dear Emil--and I too, of course; but there is no rule without an exception, and the Brandow marriage is one so thoroughly bad and unfortunate that I really do not see why we--"

"Should talk so much about it," said Herr Wollnow; "and it is all the more unnecessary, as our guest can probably take no special interest in the subject."

"No interest," cried Ottilie, clasping her hands; "no interest. Pray, Herr Gotthold--how I keep falling into the old habit--excuse me--but do tell this man, who thinks Goethe's 'Elective Affinities' in bad taste--"

"Pardon me, I said immoral--"

"No, in bad taste; the evening of the day before yesterday, when we were talking about it at the Herr Conrector's, and you made the unprecedented assertion that Goethe had committed a perfidy--yes, you said perfidy--when he made the only person in the whole novel who uttered anything truthful about marriage-the mediator--a half simpleton."

"But what do you want with your elective affinities!" exclaimed Wollnow almost angrily.

"He don't believe in them," said Ottilie triumphantly, "and says that, like ghosts, they only haunt the brains of fools. But the fact is, he only pretends to think so, and secretly believes in them more than many other people; and now he is troubled, as a child is afraid of ghosts, at the thought that you will go to Dollan and see your old friend again."

"How absurdly you talk," said Herr Wollnow, scarcely concealing his painful embarrassment by a forced smile.

"Why, we have talked of nothing else all the evening in our little society," cried Ottilie. "You must know, Herr Gotthold, that there are three members of our dancing class here besides myself--all married now: Pauline Ellis--well, she perhaps will not interest you; Louise Palm, the girl with the brown eyes--we always called her Zingarella; and Hermine Sandberg--you know, that handsome girl, it is a pity that she was a little cross-eyed and stammered. We knew everything, everything down to the smallest particulars, especially your duel with Carl Brandow--"

"At which, however, so far as I can remember, none of the ladies you have mentioned were present," said Gotthold.

"Good!" exclaimed Herr Wollnow.

"No, it isn't good," said Ottilie pouting; "it isn't at all good or kind in Herr Gotthold to make fun of the faithful friendship people have kept for him for so many years."

"That was very far from my intention," replied Gotthold. "On the contrary, I feel highly honored and greatly flattered that my humble self furnished such charming ladies with a subject for conversation, even for a few moments."

"Go on with your jibes."

"I assure you once more that I am perfectly sincere."

"Will you give me a proof of it?"

"Certainly, if I can."

"Well then," said Ottilie with a deep blush, "tell me how the duel chanced to take place, for I will confess that one said one thing, and another another, and at last we found out that nobody knew. Will you?"

"Very willingly," said Gotthold.

He had noticed Herr Wollnow's repeated attempts to give the conversation another turn, and thought he could perceive that his host's former remarks had not been so entirely unpremeditated as they had at first seemed. Had Frau Wollnow told her husband a romance to suit her own fancy, and made him play Heaven knows what ridiculous part? He must try to put an end to such rumors, and believed that the very best way of doing so would be to fulfil Frau Wollnow's wish, and tell the story with the utmost possible frankness, as if it concerned a third person.

These thoughts passed rapidly through his mind as he slowly raised the glass of wine to his lips. He sipped a little of it, and then said, turning to Frau Wollnow with a smile:--

"How gladly, honored lady, would I begin my story with the words of Schiller: 'Oh! queen, you wake the unspeakably torturing smart of the old wound, but it won't do, it won't do. True, when there is any sudden change of weather I have a twinge in the wound, but it is by no means unspeakably painful; and at all events at this moment I feel nothing at all, except the profound truth of the old saying, that young people will be young people, and will play youthful pranks, oftentimes very foolish ones. To this latter category undoubtedly belongs my combat with Carl Brandow, which did not, however, as you suppose, originate in the dancing lessons, but was only brought to a decisive issue there, after it had long been glowing under the ashes, and even threatened once before to break out into light flames. The first cause was this. In our fifth form it was an old custom, most sacredly observed, that an open space should be reserved between the first bench and the lecturer's chair for the 'old boys,' which no 'new boy' was permitted to enter before the close of the first term, on pain of a severe thrashing. Carl Brandow, it is true, belonged to the 'old boys,' indeed the very old boys; for he had been in the fifth form three years, but was still on the last bench, although if I remember rightly, he had already passed his eighteenth birthday. I was one of the 'new boys,' one of the latest comers indeed; for I had just entered at Michaelmas, a lad of fourteen, to the no small annoyance of my father, who had prepared me himself, and expected I should be at once enrolled among the first classes. It was not without reason, for when at the end of the first week, according to custom, the rank of the different scholars was assigned from the result of certain exercises we called extemporalia, mine proved to be without fault, and I was transferred to my well-earned dignity of _Primus omnium_ with a certain degree of ceremony. And yet I was not even now to be permitted to cross the space before the first bench! From the first moment I had felt this prohibition as an outrage; now I openly declared it to be one, and said that I would never submit to it, but on the contrary demanded the abolition of the brutal rule, not only for myself but all the new boys, whose champion I considered myself.

"In thus wording my demand I had really been guided only by my own intuitive sense of justice, without being actuated by any other motive; but the result proved that I could not have done better if I had been the most crafty demagogue. Standing alone, I should have had no chance of accomplishing my bold innovation; but now my cause was the cause of all, that is of all the 'new boys,' and chance willed that our numbers were exactly the same as those of the other party. Even in regard to bodily strength, which boys so well know how to rate according to age, we might probably have compared tolerably with them, and the little that was wanting would have been well supplied by the enthusiasm for the good cause which I unceasingly labored to arouse--if it had not been for Carl Brandow. Who could withstand this eighteen-years-old hero, slender and strong as a young pine? He would rage among us like Achilles among the Trojans, and strew the field--a retired open space in a little wood behind the school-house--with the bodies of the enemies he had hurled to the ground; for it was agreed that whoever in struggling should touch the earth with his back was to be considered conquered, and desist from the battle, which was to be decided in this manner before the eyes of six honorable members of the first class, who accepted the office of umpires with a readiness deserving of acknowledgment.

"Yet there was no retreat, even if we, which was not the case, had thought of making one. The hour arrived--one Saturday afternoon, on which we had contrived to evade the watchfulness of the teacher--and I do not believe that soldiers ordered to assault a battery vomiting death and destruction can feel more solemn and earnest than did we. I may say, especially I. I had caused the struggle; I had involved all the brave boys in it; I felt responsible for the result, and for the disgrace in case of defeat--an event which seemed more probable every moment. That I was determined to do my utmost and strain every nerve is a matter of course. I hoped and prayed the gods that Carl Brandow might fall to me--for the antagonists were to be drawn by lot, and only he who had conquered his opponent was permitted to choose from among those who had vanquished theirs until all was decided. I do not remember whether the senior boys, who devised these ingenious rules, had copied from Sir Walter Scott; I only know I have never read the famous description of the tournament at Ashby, in Ivanhoe, without being reminded of that Saturday afternoon--the shady forest glade, and the boyish faces glowing with courage and ardor for the combat.

"And, as in the tournament of Ashby, a wholly unforeseen accident in the person of the Black Knight, the _Noir Fainéant_, saved the hero's otherwise hopelessly lost cause, so it was here.

"Among the new boys was a lad of sixteen, with a frank honest face, which would have been handsome if it had possessed a little more animation, and the large earnest blue eyes had been a shade less dreamy. Although not tall, he was powerfully built, and we should perhaps have reckoned upon his assistance had not his indolence seemed to us to be very much greater than the strength he might possess, for he had never given any proof of it; and in reply to our eager questions about how he rated himself, merely shrugged his broad shoulders in silence."

"Curt Wenhof!" exclaimed Frau Wollnow.

"Yes, Curt Wenhof, my poor dear Curt," continued Gotthold, whose voice trembled at the recollection of the beloved friend of his youth. "I can see him now, as, after throwing his adversary to the ground as easily as a binder casts the sheaf behind him, he stood there as idly as if he had nothing more to do with the affair. I had also hurled my antagonist down and was just rising, gasping for breath, when Carl Brandow, who meantime had disposed of two or three, rushed upon me. 'Now,' I thought to myself, 'you must make it as hard for him as possible.' I did not dream of victory. But at the same instant Curt sprang before me; the next moment the two opponents had seized each other, and at the first grip Carl Brandow perceived that he had to deal with an adversary who was at least his equal in strength and courage, and, as the result proved, greatly his superior in coolness and endurance. It was a beautiful spectacle to see the two young athletes wrestling together--a spectacle we all enjoyed, umpires, victors, vanquished, and combatants; for by a silent agreement we had all formed a wide circle around them and watched every phase of the conflict with hope, fear, and loud cheers, according to the side to which we belonged, until at last a wild shout of exultation rang from my party, as Curt Wenhof raised his opponent, whose strength was utterly exhausted, and hurled him upon the turf with such violence that the poor fellow lay half senseless, unable to move.

"The conflict was decided, so said the seniors, and in truth it was; who would have ventured to cope with Carl Brandow's conqueror? In the joy of my heart I embraced the good Curt, vowed an eternal friendship with him, and then turned to Carl Brandow, who meantime had risen from the ground, and, as the leader of one party to the representative of the other, offered him my hand, expressing the wish and hope that an honorable peace might follow the honorable struggle. He took my hand, and I believe even laughed, and said he was not a fool to grieve over a thing that could not be helped."

"That's just like him," cried Frau Wollnow eagerly, "friendly and agreeable to your face, and malicious and cruel behind your back."

"You see my wife has already taken sides," said Herr Wollnow.

"Already!" exclaimed Fran Wollnow. "Why, I never thought or felt otherwise; I have always been against him, and certainly had good reason for it; I should like to know what would have become of me at those dancing lessons, if you had not come to my assistance so kindly. I shall never forget it, and it was all the more noble in you, because you cared nothing about me, but were in love with the beautiful Cecilia, which I never suspected."

"I fear it would be useless to contradict you."

"Entirely useless. I can see you now starting from the chair beside me, pale with anger and trembling in every limb, when Carl Brandow kissed Cecilia, and she burst into tears."

"And had I not reason to be angry!" exclaimed Gotthold. "It was an agreement among us young people that the kisses which were ordered in the games of forfeits were to consist in pressing the lips upon the hand. All were bound by it, even Carl Brandow; and until then the compact had been inviolably kept. I had a right not to suffer this insolent breach of the bargain, or permit it to pass unpunished,--a double right, since during the last year I had been to Dollan with Curt so often, and was on such friendly terms with the brother and sister, especially as Curt, as you may remember, in his indolent way, would not share the dancing lessons, and I might therefore be permitted to consider myself the legitimate protector of my friend. Moreover, Curt, whom I had with great difficulty pulled through the examination for the senior class, was not in favor with the teachers; a flagrant breach of the peace such as would now be necessary, would undoubtedly have caused him to be suspended; and finally I will confess I thought Carl Brandow intended to vex and insult me by his impertinence, and resolved to take up the gauntlet and fight out the battle for Curt as he had appeared for me. It was all youthful folly, my honored friends; I blush even now when I think of it, and so I will relate what remains to be told in as few words as possible.

"The preparations for the duel--for us proud seniors it must of course be a genuine duel"--continued Gotthold, "were conducted with all possible secrecy. Only those immediately concerned,--that is, the principals and seconds, to use this classic expression,--knew the place and hour. It was not difficult to procure weapons, for in spite of the strictest commands, there were at least half a dozen pairs of rapiers among us. Carl Brandow had one, and his particular friends told wonderful stories of his skill; but Curt was also the fortunate possessor of two good swords, with whose terrible clatter we had often, when at Dollan, startled the quiet woods from their repose. I had a quick eye, and, spite of my fifteen years, a firm hand, and Carl Braudow was probably no little surprised when, at the decisive moment, he found his despised opponent so well prepared; at least, he grew more restless and violent every moment, and thus made it possible for me, although he was really greatly my superior in skill, not only to hold my ground but even to change my posture to one of attack, and deal him a blow on the shoulder so deep that the blood flowed through the sleeve. The seconds shouted to us to stop. I instantly lowered my rapier, but in his frenzy of rage at his mischance he heard the shout and saw my gesture no more than I saw and heard anything of what happened to me during the next four weeks."

"He is said to have struck twice," observed Frau Wollnow; "the last time when you were lying on the ground."

"I do not believe it and never shall," replied Gotthold; "our seconds had certainly lost their heads and could not afterwards say positively how the affair had happened. But now, my clear Madam and Herr Wollnow, I fear I must have, exhausted your patience and will take my leave. Good Heavens! Twelve o'clock already! It is unpardonable!"

"I could have listened all night," said Frau Wollnow, with a deep sigh, as she also, but very slowly, rose from her chair. "Ah! youth, youth! people are never young but once."

"Thank God," said Gotthold gayly; "otherwise people would be compelled to play their foolish pranks twice."

"Who is so old as to be safe from folly," said Herr Wollnow, with a grave smile.

"You!" exclaimed his wife, embracing him. "You are much too old and far too wicked. People must not only be young, but also good, like our friend here, in order to be so badly rewarded for all his goodness. I can imagine how it went to your heart when Cecilia, married this Brandow. That sweet innocent girl of seventeen wedded to him! Ah! when we see such things it is enough to make us lose faith in mankind forever."

"This faith is not so frequently to be found either in Israel or elsewhere," said Herr Wollnow.

"Will you go?"

"I am going already, my dear Madam."

"Oh, dear! now you are beginning too. I meant to say, will you really go to Dollan?"

"I must do so now, even if I were not obliged to go on account of the picture."


"To restore my faith in mankind, at least the part most important to me, myself," replied Gotthold, with a smile, whose derision did not escape Herr Wollnow.

"I am very much displeased with you," said the latter, as he re-entered the dining-room, after accompanying Gotthold to the door.

"With me?"

"What must the man think of me? What a meddlesome awkward fellow he must consider me. It is a real piece of good fortune that I went no farther."

"But what have I done?"

"Why did you never tell me this famous narrative of your youth, from which it is very evident that he loved and probably still loves your friend Cecilia, as you call her, although I have never seen anything of the friendship."

"Do you really think so?" exclaimed Fran Wollnow, starting up and throwing her arms around her husband; "do you really think so? Did he tell you so?"

In spite of his vexation, Herr Wollnow could not help laughing.

"I should probably be the last person whom he would choose for his confidant, especially now, after I, stupid oaf, have been hammering away upon this subject for the last hour."

"On this subject? I really don't understand you, Emil."

"Don't understand me! Gracious, you clever soul! How difficult it is for women to see their way in matters they proudly condescend to consider their own. Don't understand me? Well, I can assure you that yonder enthusiast understood you perfectly, and will be on his way to Dollan early to-morrow morning."

"Well, I can't see any particular harm in that," said Frau Wollnow. "Why should not those two meet again, after so many years, even if they really do still love each other? I will give poor Cecilia the pleasure with all my heart--she needs consolation so much."

"As much as her worthy husband needs money. Day after to-morrow is the last day of grace for his note of five thousand thalers which is deposited with me. Perhaps he will help both: he has the means to do so."

"Oh! Emil, your everlasting prose is unbearable."

"I never promised you that you would find me a poet."

"Heaven knows that."

"It would be better for me if you knew it."


"I beg your pardon. I am really so much annoyed that I can't help being spiteful. But that conies of meddling with other people's affairs. Let the fools do as they please, and come to bed."


When, after a night of torturing restlessness, Gotthold suddenly awoke from his heavy morning sleep, the sun had already been shining through the white lace curtains of his chamber for several hours. "Thank God," he said aloud, "morning has come, and with the morning everything will doubtless look brighter."

He was soon dressed, and standing at the open window. How familiar the scene was to him. There was the circular space, with its grass-grown walks, and the little obelisk in the centre, surrounded by pleasant white houses with pretty gardens; yonder the stately schoolhouse, from whose open windows the singing of the boys rang out so distinctly upon the quiet of the Sabbath morning, that he fancied he could distinguish the words of the hymn. On the right hand, peering between the houses, and rising above their roofs, appeared the dark green foliage of the huge trees in the royal park, and far away on the left, between other dwellings, gleamed a portion of the lake, and the tiny islet--just at this moment sparkling in the sunlight--which lies before the large island. He had seen the beautiful picture hundreds and hundreds of times just as he saw it now, when, after the morning service was over, he stood at the window of the school-house with Curt, his eyes wandering towards the region where beloved Dollan lay; and even as now it allured him from the narrow walls of the room out into the sunny fields, the shady woods, and by the blue lake. These lights, these shadow, this brilliant azure hue had kindled in the boy a pure desire to reproduce, to counterfeit what lay so clearly, though in such complicated lines before him, and so deeply stirred his heart with strange forebodings. They had been his first teachers in the wonderful language of lines and colors; and fluently as he had since learned to speak it, he was still indebted to them for all that he had attained. Had he not felt yesterday, when he drove through the familiar scenes, heavy as was his heart, that all his toil and labor in beautiful Italy had been more or less vain, and he had always painted only with his eyes and hand, never with his heart; spoken a beautiful, musical, but foreign tongue with difficulty, instead of his native language; and that here, and here only, in his native country, and beneath his native sky, could he become a true artist, who does not utter what others can say as well or better, but what he alone can express, because he is himself what he says.

But could home really still be home to him after all that had happened, all he had experienced and suffered here? Why not, if he only saw it with the eyes with which he endeavored to see the rest of the world; if he wished to be nothing more than what, in his good hours, he believed himself to be--a true artist, living only in his ideal creations, behind whom everything that fetters other men lies like an unsubstantial vision, and for whom, when in evil plight, there is a God to whom he can tell what he suffers. Yes, his art, chaste and severe, had been his guiding-star in the labyrinth of his early days, his talisman in the misery and poverty of the years he had spent in Munich, his refuge at all times; and she should and would continue to be so--would cling loyally to him if he was faithful to her, and ever throned her reverently on high as his protectress, his adored goddess.

The boys' song died away. Gotthold passed his hand over his eyes, and turned back into the room just as there was a loud knock at the door.

"What, is it you, Jochen?"

"Yes, Herr Gotthold, it is I," replied Jochen Prebrow, after putting the coffee-tray he had brought in as carefully on the table as if it had been a soap-bubble, which would break at the slightest touch. "Clas Classen, from Neuenkirchen, or, as they call him here, Louis, had just gone down cellar when you rang, and I thought the coffee would taste none the worse for my bringing it."

"Certainly not; I am very much obliged to you."

"And besides, I wanted to ask when I should harness the horses."

"I shall remain here a few days," replied Gotthold.

At these words a smile began to overspread Jochen's broad face, but it instantly vanished again as Gotthold continued: "So you must drive on alone, old friend."

"I should like to stay here a few days too," said Jochen.

"And you cannot unless I keep the carriage? Then I will, and, what is of more value to me, you; and we will go on at once to Dollan, which I suppose is what you want. Or do you think the horses ought not to be left so long?"

Jochen had no anxiety on that score. His good friend, Clas Classen, whom the people here had the strange custom of calling Louis, would willingly undertake the care of them and see that they had all they needed, but why did Herr Gotthold walk when they had horses and carriage on the spot?

"But I should prefer to walk," said Gotthold.

"Well, what's one man's meat is another man's poison," said Jochen rubbing his thick hair. "But there's still another difficulty in the way: you will find the nest empty."

"What do you mean?"

"They passed through here an hour ago, both the gentleman and lady," replied Jochen. "I was sitting in the coffee-room and they stopped at the door."

Gotthold stared steadily at Jochen. She had been there, so near him, under the window at which he had just been standing, and he might have seen the pure face again as Jochen saw it, who spoke of it as coolly as if it were a thing that might happen every day.

"And did you speak to her, Jochen?" he said at last hesitatingly.

"The lady remained in the carriage," said Jochen; "but he came in to drink a little rum, and as there was nobody else in the room, and I had just got some out of the cupboard for myself, I helped him to it; and then he asked where I came from, and I told him I was here with a gentleman, but I thought we should go on to-day as soon as he was up. He asked if I knew the gentleman; but of course I didn't; for, thought I, the friendship between those two was never very great, and the less one has to do with Herr Brandow the better. Wasn't I right? Well, and so one word led to another, and he took out his watch and said he was going to Plüggenhof and should probably stay there till to-morrow evening, and then he drank his rum, which he will perhaps pay for when he comes back, and away he went; he had a pair of splendid bays, thorough-breds, especially the saddle-horse. You would have been delighted with them, for you are a judge of horses; I saw that yesterday."

Gotthold's eyes were still fixed steadily upon the floor. She would not even know that he had been here.

Be it so! He had not intended, even for a moment, to cross her path; and now the way was open, perfectly open; he could carry out unhindered, and without any pain, the plan he had formed yesterday when he returned from the Wollnows' through the park to the inn.

An hour afterwards the two men were walking along the road to Dollan, at first upon the highway, then by side paths and short cuts, every foot of which Gotthold knew.

He walked on, lost in dreams of the days that had fled and could never return, while far above his head the larks sang unceasingly, the black crows stalked over the quiet fields abandoned to Sabbath solitude, the bright-plumaged jays fluttered over the moors, and above the border of the distant woods an eagle wheeled in majestic circles. Jochen, who had taken nothing except Gotthold's dressing-case and paint-box tied up with his own little bundle in a gay cotton handkerchief, generally loitered a little behind and did not disturb his silent companion by any undue loquacity. Jochen had his own thoughts, which to be sure did not dwell upon the past but the future, thoughts he would gladly have uttered, only that he knew not how to guide the conversation in that direction. But they were approaching nearer and nearer to the corner of the woods, where he must part from Gotthold for the day, and if he wished to hear his opinion at all, now was the time. So he took heart, overtook his companion with a few long strides, walked on a few minutes by his side in silence, and was not a little startled himself when he suddenly uttered aloud the question he had mutely repeated a hundred times: "What do you think about marrying, Herr Gotthold?"

Gotthold paused and looked in astonishment at the worthy Jochen, who also stood still, and whose broad face, with its staring eyes and half-open mouth, wore so singular an expression that he could not help smiling.

"What put that into your head?"

"Because I want to get married."

"Then you must know about it far better than I, who do not."

Jochen closed his lips and swallowed several times, as if he had taken too large a mouthful. Gotthold was now forced to laugh outright.

"Why, Jochen," he exclaimed, "why are you so mysterious to an old friend? I will gladly give you my best advice, and if I can, and you care about it, my blessing also, but I must first know what the matter is really about. So you want to be married?"

"Yes, Herr Gotthold," said Jochen, taking off his cap and wiping the drops of perspiration from his brown forehead; "at least I don't exactly, but she says she has always wanted me."

"That is something, and who is she?"

"Stine Lachmund."

"But, Jochen, she is at least fifteen years older than you."

"She can't help that."

"No, certainly not."

"And then she is a capable woman, who has a good stout frame and strong bones, only it is a little hard for her to move about because she has rather too much flesh now, but she says that would probably go off if she had more work to do than she has at the Wollnows', where life is altogether too easy."

"Well, if she thinks so herself."

"Yes, and then she has put by a pretty sum of money at the Wollnows', and her old father and mother at Thiessow,--you know, Herr Gotthold, we sailed over there once with the young master, and there was a terribly high sea outside, so that we got there as wet as cats, and old Lachmund thought we must really have had a ducking."

"And then he made us a stiff glass of grog," said Gotthold.

"And our young master drank a little too much, and played all sorts of pranks in the old man's long jacket, with his sou'wester on his head--that was a jolly time, Herr Gotthold." Jochen had lost the thread of his story, but Gotthold kindly prompted him, and he now went on to relate that the old couple, rich people for their station in life, who had kept a sort of inn in the large fishing village, at last wished to resign the sceptre they had so long and obstinately held to their only daughter, and give themselves up to repose for the rest of their days, on condition that she should instantly marry some good man.

So Stine Lachmund, whom Jochen had visited in the kitchen at the same time that Gotthold had been calling upon her master and mistress, had reported, and asked Jochen whether he would be her husband.

"For you see, Herr Gotthold," continued Jochen, "she don't take to everybody, and she has known me, as one might say, all my life, and knows I am an orderly, sober man, who understands how to take care of horses, knows enough about farming, and can even manage a boat, if it doesn't blow too hard."

"Then so far everything would be perfectly suitable," said Gotthold, "but now we come to the principal thing: do you really love her?"

"Yes, that's just it," replied Jochen thoughtfully. "She asked me herself last night, and what was I to say?"

"The truth, Jochen, nothing but the truth."

"I did, Herr Gotthold, I did tell the truth. 'Not yet,' I said, and then she laughed and said that would do no harm, all that would come right if the woman and the man were well-behaved. I must ask you, you would give me the right advice."


"Yes, you would know about it; you had always been a good man, and--and--"


"And if you had married our young lady, she would have been a great deal better off than she is now; yes, and, Herr Gotthold, I only saw her side face this morning through the window, as she sat alone in the carriage; but this I must say, she doesn't look over happy, and Stine says she has not much reason to. Do you think so too, Herr Gotthold?"

"I don't know, I hope"--replied Gotthold, "people talk so much,--but we were speaking about your offer."

"Yes, and what do you say now?"

"What is there to be said? If you feel inclined, marry Stine, who is certainly a worthy, honest girl, and may you both be as happy and prosperous as you deserve."

They had seated themselves in the shade at the edge of the wood, in order to carry on this important conversation quietly, but now Gotthold rose, hastily seized his travelling case and paint-box, which Jochen had laid on the grass beside him, warmly shook the hard brown hand of his companion, and entered the forest without casting another glance behind. Jochen looked after his retreating figure, then took his own little bundle on a stick over his shoulder, and began to ascend the moor, above whose topmost crest the roof of his father's smithy was just visible.


Gotthold hurried restlessly through the forest with hasty steps, as if he had not a moment to lose. But it was only the tumult of sore, sorrowful thoughts, that drove him on and would not leave him, any more than the swarm of flies which had entered the woods with him and hovered about his head, now rising, now falling, now lingering behind, now flitting on before.

"To think that I must always hear it, everywhere, and from all tongues," he murmured, "as if I were responsible for it; as if it were a reproach to me that she is not happy! Happy! Who is? Perhaps the infallible people who can recite, their moral multiplication table forward and backward like this Wollnow, the wise, self-righteous Pharisee; or like good Jochen, to whom fifteen years more or less in his Stine is of no consequence, provided a good maintenance is guaranteed him. But on the other hand--am I happy? Are thousands and thousands of others, who have scarcely a greater fault than that they are men, men with hearts that feel and sympathize, suffer and compassionate? A curse upon compassion and sympathy! They make us the pitiful creatures we are. What are you rustling, venerable beeches, which for centuries have strewn your withered leaves each Autumn over the soil of this forest, only to shine forth again in Spring in the full beauty of your green foliage? What are you murmuring, little brook, as you carry your clear brown water to the sea as busily to-day as when I played upon your bank, a merry boy, and thought it a heroic deed to leap across you from shore to shore? Alas! in the rustling, the murmur, I hear the same song that the swallow sang yesterday, the song of the eternal youth of Nature, which is ever the same, always equally strong, equally beautiful; and of the transitoriness, the frailty of men, who prolong a sorrowful, yet greedy existence by fear and hope, eat this shadowy food until death, and yet are happiest while their hearts can still hope and fear, their hearts which can never again be filled if once emptied, or if they fill and throb once more, fill with contempt, throb with indignation, that they could ever have been so foolish as to beat anxiously in blended hope and fear. Well, I no longer hope, so I need not fear even the view that awaits me yonder."

From the broader, but completely neglected road that had hitherto followed the course of the forest stream, and, turning to the right, still pursued its windings deeper into the woods to the sea, a foot-path branched off to the left and led upward, at first between the trunks of huge trees, but gradually through more and more stunted underbrush, which finally dwindled into heather and broom that covered the whole crest of the hill to its highest point, where the men of ancient times, in memory of one of their princes, had reared a huge monument of massive blocks of stone, now covered with thick moss, and partly buried in the earth. It was the spot from which Gotthold, with an unsteady hand, had made the colored sketch he afterwards used for the painting that hung in Frau Wollnow's room.

And now he stood there again, after ten long years--in, the shadow of one of the blocks of stone which protected him from the burning rays of the sun, while before him stretched the landscape with whose wondrous beauty the boy's eyes had never been satiated. Ah! Time had not obliterated a single charm; nay, it seemed as if the hour was expressly adapted to show him the Paradise of his youth in all its magic.

The hour of noon! The brilliant sunlight bathed the tops of the beeches, over which his eyes wandered to emerald meadows and golden cornfields--the meadows and fields of Dollan, which lay like a quiet sunny Eden among the shaded, wood-covered hills that enclosed it on all sides. Amid the meadows and fields, relieved against the darker foliage of the trees in the garden, appeared the straw thatched roofs of the farm buildings, and the tiled roof of the long, low mansion-house, in whose red gable he could distinctly perceive the tiny window of the little room he had occupied with Curt whenever he went to Dollan. What memories that little window evoked! It seemed as if his eyes were fixed upon it by some magic spell, and could scarcely turn away either to the right, where the hills opened and afforded a view of the blue sea upon which the distant white sails glittered like stars, or to the left, to glance over the wide brown moorland, upon which the lonely smithy stood under an ancient oak, the only tree in the shadeless waste, above whose verge towered other wood-crowned heights which closed the view on the land side.

The hour of noon, the hour of the great Pan! Not the faintest breath stirred the shining air; motionless were the dazzling white clouds upon the steel blue vault of the heavens; motionless the tops of the trees, the blossoming bushes, even the long blades of grass. Not a sound disturbed the profound stillness; even the locust, which had chirped among the stones of the giant's monument, was silent, perhaps terrified by the brown serpent, which, with its head upraised and its round glittering eyes fixed steadily upon Gotthold, lay motionless upon one of the masses of rock a few paces off, with the rest of its scaly body buried in a dense mass of heather. He had not noticed it before, and now perceived it with a sort of shudder. It seemed as if the torpor into which Nature had sunk had been embodied; as if the spirit of loneliness and desolation had assumed a material form. Woe betide you when the loneliness of yonder mansion with its neglected garden, the desolation of this remote valley, so far away from all human society, stares at you with those cold, cruel eyes; when you listen in the stillness for a beloved voice, and hear only the blood seething in your temples, and the heavy, anxious throbbing of your heart.

Avaunt, fiend, avaunt!

He raised his staff; the serpent disappeared; when he reached the rock upon which it must have been lying, he could see nothing but the swaying of the flowers through whose closely interwoven roots it was gliding away.

Or was it only an illusion of his excited fancy, and did the flowers bend to the soft breeze that now breathed through the hot air, growing constantly stronger and stronger, so that a rustling and murmuring arose in the forest behind him, the treetops at his feet began to whisper, and at last the cool fresh wind from the sea blew over the panting earth.

The spell was broken; Gotthold again looked at the landscape; but now with the eye of the artist, who is seeking to obtain the best view of his subject.

"I chose the morning light then, if one can call it choice; it was a mistake and I must arrange the atmospheric effect artistically, but the sun should be at a moderate height above the horizon, almost directly over the smithy; that will be about six o'clock, and I can have what I need until eight. I think it will prove a picture which might satisfy others as well as yonder talkative lady."


Gotthold collected his luggage; then it occurred to him that he might just as well leave his colors there. So he placed the box on the rock where the serpent had lain, in the dense shadow, and went down the hill, along the woodland path, to the long ravine through which the stream rippled to the sea, and at whose mouth, in the little inlet between two steep overhanging cliffs, stood Cousin Boslaf's lonely little house. In the old days at Dollan it had gone by the name of the beach-house, nor was the title used only there; the name was in all mouths, especially those of the ship-masters, to whom it was a welcome landmark on that dangerous coast even by day, and still more at night, when the warning light in Cousin Boslaf's window streamed through the yawning night over the dreary waste of waters to the helpless mariner. The brilliant glow extended a long distance, thanks to the huge arched tin dish which the old man had fastened behind the lamp, and whose spotless brightness rivalled polished silver. This light had now burned seventy years, to the joy of shipmasters and fishermen and the honor of the worthy man who kindled it night after night at no one's bidding, but in simple obedience to the dictates of his own kind heart.

Seventy years, and probably more rather than less; no one had counted them. Ever since the oldest man in that neighborhood could remember, Cousin Boslaf had lived in the beach-house--was it strange that he should be a half-mythical personage to the younger generations? He almost seemed so to his own relatives in Dollan, among whom he lived; in whose society, at least, he spent many hours; whose joys and sorrows he shared in his quiet way, and to whom his history was known; at least Curt's father had known and related it, Gotthold could not remember the occasion, and whether he had told the boys or--what was more probable--communicated it to some friends over a bottle of wine, and the boys had secretly listened in some corner.

It was long since Gotthold had thought of this story, which reminded him of a time when many a beech-tree that now reared its stately head far above the wanderer f did not exist. But now it once more came back to his memory, down to the smallest details, which he really knew not whether he had heard at that time, imagined since, or now first learned from the rustling of the forest giants, and the murmur of the brook that accompanied his steps.

"When we were under the Swedish rule," so all the stories of those days began, there lived on the island two cousins named Wenhof--Adolf and Bogislaf--both equally young, equally strong and handsome, and equally in love with a charming young lady, whom her father would give only to a rich man, for the simple reason that he had nothing but his noble blood and the great estate of Dahlitz, which was loaded with debts to an amount exceeding its value. The two cousins, it is true, did not belong to the nobility, but they had descended from a very good old family, and the Lord of Dahlitz would have made no objection to either, except the one he was unfortunately obliged to make to both, namely, that they were, if possible, poorer than himself. In fact, neither possessed anything except a good rifle with the hunting equipments belonging to it, and a pair of stout boots, whose thick soles crossed the thresholds of their many friends on the island, where they were everywhere welcome companions in the hunt or at the board. Of equal height, and almost similar cast of features, they also did everything alike, or so nearly alike that the hospitable, cheery land-owners saw one enter the courtyard no less gladly than the other, and were still better pleased when both appeared, which was almost always the case, for the two cousins loved each other much more warmly than most brothers, and as for their passion for the beautiful Ulrica of Dahlitz, their hopes of possessing her were so small that it was not worth while to quarrel about it.

Just at that time something happened which at one blow completely altered their situation, or at least the situation of one of them.

A very wealthy and eccentric uncle in Sweden died, who, besides his property in that country, had an estate on the island to bequeath, namely, beautiful Dollan, which at that time included the forest down to the sea-coast, and all the land across the wide moor to the Schanzenberge. This estate he now left to the two cousins, or rather to one of them, for according to the singular wording of the will it was to go to the one whom a jury of six of his acquaintances should pronounce the "best man." Everybody laughed when this strange condition was made known, and the cousins laughed too. But they soon became very serious when they considered that not only Dollan was at stake, but Ulrica von Dahlitz, whom her father would joyfully give in marriage to the owner of Dollan. It was strange to see the two cousins, who had hitherto been inseparable, now begin to take separate paths, and, when they could not avoid each other, measure each other with grave, questioning, almost hostile looks, which seemed to say: I am the better man.

In the bottom of his heart each was obliged to confess, and did acknowledge, that the matter was at least very doubtful; and so thought and said the six judges whom the two cousins had chosen, and whose decision they had promised to obey. But all six were blameless young men, who set about their difficult task very gravely and solemnly, and held long, very long consultations, during which immense quantities of good old red wine were drunk, and a vast number of pipes was smoked, until they at last came to the following conclusion, which was universally praised as a wise and perfectly suitable one.

The cousin who should best perform six tasks to be given by the judges, should be considered by them and the world the best man.

The cousins would now have been in a very unfortunate situation, if the judges had obtained their wisdom from any philosophical or learned book; but no one of them had even thought of such a thing. The best man, according to their standard, would be he who, in the first place, should be able in the presence of the judges, within forty-eight hours, to put a three-years-old stallion, which had never been mounted, through the four principal paces--the walk, the trot, the gallop, and the run; secondly, cross the moor of Dollan, from the manor-house to the old smithy, with a team of four fiery young horses, going at full gallop, on a certain line; thirdly, swim from the shore to a ship anchored a German mile away in the offing; fourthly, from sunset to sunrise--it was in June, and the nights were short--drink a dozen bottles of wine; and fifthly, during that time play Boston with three of the judges without making any great mistakes. But if, as was almost expected, the judges even then could not decide, the cousins were to have twelve shots with a rifle at a target placed at a distance of two hundred and fifty paces, and the one who could hit the centre most frequently should be "the best man," and the owner of Dollan.

This sixth and last trial was really a last resource, upon which the judges had decided very unwillingly; for every child knew that Bogislaf was not only the better shot of the two, but the best on the whole island; still the matter must be settled in some way, and as Adolf, perhaps hoping that he should win the prize before that test was reached, made no objection to number six, everything was decided and the contest could begin.

It began and continued as had been universally expected. The two young sons of Anak rode their horses, guided their carriages, swam their mile, drank their twelve bottles of wine, and played their Boston with such equal skill and faultlessness, that the most scrupulous eye could detect no difference in the merit of the performance, and with heavy hearts the judges were obliged to proceed to the last trial, whose result was not doubtful.

And heavy, heavy as a hundred-pound weight poor Adolf's heart might well have felt in his brave breast, when he appeared on the ground on the momentous day. He was very much depressed, and the secret encouragement of the judges, who wished him well, did not cheer him. "It is all useless now," he murmured.

But, strangely enough, Bogislaf seemed no less moved, nay, even more agitated than his cousin. He was pale, his large blue eyes looked dim and sunken, and his particular friends noticed, to their horror, that when the cousins shook hands, as they always did before every contest, his hand--his strong brown hand--trembled like that of a timid girl.

The cousins, who were to fire alternately, drew lots; Adolf had the first shot. He was a long time in taking aim, raised and lowered his gun several times, and finally hit the last ring but one.

"I knew it beforehand," he said, covering his eyes, and would have liked to stop his ears; but he listened intently, and drew a long breath, when instead of the "centre" he expected, the number of the last ring on the target was mentioned, and repeated in a loud tone by one of the judges.

Was it possible? Well then, there was still hope. Adolf collected all his powers; he shot better and better, three, four, six, nine, and ten, and again six and ten; and Bogislaf always remained one ring behind him, neither more nor less--always one ring.

"He is playing with him, as a cat plays with a mouse," the judges said to each other after the first three shots had been fired.

But Bogislaf grew paler, and his hand trembled more and more violently at every trial, and only grew steady at the moment when he discharged the gun; but he was always one ring behind Adolf, and now came the last shot, the worst Adolf had made. In his terrible excitement he had just grazed the outer edge of the target; if Bogislaf now hit the centre, he would be the victor: the result of the long struggle, the magnificent estate, the beautiful bride--all, all depended upon that one shot.

Pale as death, Bogislaf stepped forward, but his hand no longer trembled; firmly, as if his arm and the gun were one, he took aim, the glittering barrel did not swerve a hair's breadth, and now the report crashed upon the stillness. "It has hit the mark," said the judges.

The markers went forward and sought again and again, they could not find the bullet; the judges also went to the spot and searched and searched, but they could not find it either. The unprecedented, almost incredible thing had happened--Bogislaf had not even hit the target.

The judges looked at each other in perplexity, and for poor Bogislaf's sake scarcely ventured to utter what must be said. But Bogislaf went up to his cousin, who stood with downcast eyes, as if ashamed of his victory, seized his hand, and evidently wished to say something which did not escape his pale, quivering lips. But it could not have been a curse, for he fell sobbing on Adolf's neck, pressed him to his heart, then released him, and without uttering a word, strode away and disappeared.

He remained absent. Many supposed he had killed himself; others declared that he had buried himself in the northern part of Norway amid the ice and snow to hunt bears and wolves; and they were perhaps right.

At all events, he was not dead, but after an absence of several years suddenly appeared on the estate of a friend who had been one of the judges, and here his cousin Adolf and his young wife Ulrica met him--quite accidentally, for they had not heard of his return, and the young wife was so startled that she fell fainting on the floor, and was restored to consciousness with great difficulty. To be sure, she had always been one of those who believed Bogislaf dead, and had already had several discussions on the subject with her husband, who always asserted the contrary. It was said that this was by no means the only point of difference between the husband and wife, and there were in truth many things which did not increase the happiness of the young pair. True, the extravagant old Lord of Dahlitz, who had sold his property to a Herr Brandow--Carl Brandow's great-grandfather--and then lived very contentedly on his son-in-law for several years, was now dead, but the daughter had inherited her father's expensive tastes, and Adolf was anything but a good economist.

This last quality certainly did not prevent him from doing what the simplest gratitude required;--and therefore--in spite of his wife's opposition--he invited poor Bogislaf to visit him at Dollan and remain as long as possible. At first Bogislaf positively refused, and with good reason. The cause of the result of the shooting match had now transpired! It was known that the evening before the contest Ulrica had sent her cousin and most intimate friend, Emma von Dahlitz, a poor orphan who lived with her wealthy relatives, to Bogislaf with the message: she would never, never, though everybody should declare him to be the best man, accept him for her husband, but Adolf, whom she always had loved, and always should. Then Bogislaf, as he no longer had any hope of winning the girl he loved, generously resigned to his cousin a property which no longer had any charm for him.

He long refused to accept his fortunate cousin's invitation, but finally came--for only a week. But the days had become weeks, the weeks months, and the months years, so that this was now the fourth generation which had known old Bogislaf Wenhof, or, as he was commonly called, Cousin Boslaf, in the beach-house of Dollan. He had removed there at the end of the first week, after purchasing it, together with the few fields and meadows belonging to it, for a very small sum from the government, which had originally built it for a watch-house; but though the beach-house did not really belong to Dollan, but was Cousin Boslaf's own property, Cousin Boslaf clung to Dollan all the more closely, so closely that the constant intercourse had filled the heads of the people with all sorts of superstitious fancies, in which the old man sometimes figured as the good, and sometimes the evil genius of Dollan, and especially the Wenhof family. Alas! even if he were the good genius, he had been unable to prevent the ruin of the house, or withhold the son of Adolf and Ulrica, who had many of the Dahlitz traits of character, from selling Dollan to the convent of St. Jürgen at the close of the preceding century, after which he was glad to remain as a tenant where he had once been master. Cousin Boslaf had not been able to prevent that, or any of the other things which had happened from that time to the present day.

"But what does this mean?" said Gotthold to himself. "How can one let his healthy brain become so bewildered by the rustling of the forest, the murmur of the stream, and these old tales! I believe the serpent has bewitched me with its cold glittering eyes, and I am still under its spell. But its reign is over now. There is the sea gleaming through the boughs, my own beloved, beautiful sea! Its fresh breath will cool my hot brow. And he, the old man who lives yonder, and who learned so early the meaning of the harsh word sacrifice; who renounced power, wealth, and woman's favor that he might not lose his own manhood, was probably the better and wiser man."

Still following the course of the stream, which, now that it was so near its mouth, grew more noisy and impatient, falling in many a miniature cascade as it hurried plashing and murmuring down the ravine, overgrown with huge clumps of ferns and the most luxuriant grass, Gotthold, a few moments after, reached the shore. On the right hand, almost at the extreme point of the promontory, which, covered with large and small stones like the rest of the coast, ran out several hundred paces into the sea, stood Cousin Boslaf's house. The old flag, which Gotthold had remembered from his boyhood, still fluttered from the tall staff on the gable roof. It had originally been a Swedish banner, but in the course of years the wind and weather had so dimmed its colors, and made so many repairs necessary, that the authorities could not have taken umbrage at this relic of foreign rule, even if they had troubled themselves particularly about Cousin Boslaf's actions. This, however, they had never done, so the old flag fluttered and rustled and flapped merrily in the fresh breeze, which blew still stronger as Gotthold now stood before the low dwelling, built partly of unhewn stone from the shore, whose only door was on the side towards the land. The door was locked; he could not look into the little iron-barred windows on the right and left, which lighted the kitchen and store-room, for they were considerably above a man's height, close under the roof; and the strong iron shutters were put over the two larger windows in the front of the house, which faced the sea. Evidently Cousin Boslaf was not at home.

"To be sure," said Gotthold, "after an absence of ten years we can't be surprised not to find a man who was eighty years old at the time we left him."

And yet he could not believe that the old man was dead. He had just been thinking of him so eagerly, seen him so distinctly in his mind's eye--the tall, slender figure, walking with long, regular strides, as he had so often beheld him. No, no, the old man belonged to the race of giants; he had surely outlived this little space of time.

And then the house and its surroundings--the little front yard enclosed by a walk, the tiny garden bordered with shells--did not look as if they had been left for any length of time. Everything was in order and painfully neat, as the old man used to keep it; the little bridge in the creek to which he fastened his boat had even been lately mended with new pieces of wood, carefully dovetailed together. But the boat had gone; undoubtedly cousin Boslaf had rowed out to sea in her. To be sure, it was not his custom, but the old man's habits might have altered during the last few years.

The afternoon was already far advanced; the walk through the ravine to the beach-house had occupied more time than Gotthold expected. He would wait for Cousin Boslaf an hour longer, and then return to the giant's grave, paint until sunset, claim the hospitality of the smithy for the night, and early the next morning--it was to be hoped with better success--seek out his old friend once more. Then he could reach Prora at noon, and after taking leave of the Wollnows, drive on with Jochen without delay. He had thought yesterday of finishing the picture in Prora; but they would pass through the place to-morrow evening on their return from Plüggenhof, so Jochen had informed him, and he would not trust a second time to the chance which had saved him from meeting Carl Brandow that very morning.

The young man had thrown himself down upon the shore under the shadow of the beeches, which here extended to the very brink of the steep cliff. Accustomed as he had been on his sketching excursions to satisfy himself for a whole day with a piece of bread and a drink from his flask, he now felt no hunger; but he experienced far more fatigue than he had usually done after longer walks. As he lay there with the beeches rustling over his head, and the waves breaking on the stony shore beneath with their monotonous cadence, his lids gradually fell over eyes wearied by long gazing over the boundless waste of waters.


A few hours later, Carl Brandow and Hinrich Scheel were riding over the moor from the smithy to Dollan, the same road which they had passed over in the opposite direction not ten minutes before. They rode at a quick trot, the groom a few dozen paces behind his master, though not from any feeling of respect, and certainly not because he was worse mounted. On the contrary, his horse was a magnificent brown animal of the purest blood, far more valuable than his master's half-breed, so valuable in fact, that any passer-by would have wondered how such a noble animal could be ridden upon such an ordinary occasion. But Hinrich Scheel was no ordinary rider; he noticed every movement of the horse upon the rough road as carefully as if he were training it upon a smooth race-course; not the smallest awkwardness was suffered to pass unnoticed; it had just been guilty of a trick for which it must be punished; and that was the reason why he had remained a little behind.

Suddenly Carl Brandow drew his rein, and half turning said, over his shoulder, "Are you perfectly sure you saw him?"

"I told you I passed within a hundred paces of him," answered Hinrich Scheel sulkily; "and I had plenty of time to look at him too; I believe he stood up there an hour, as if he had taken root."

"But why did that scoundrel of a Jochen say just now that he didn't know where he was?"

"Perhaps he doesn't."

"Stuff and nonsense!"

They rode on a short distance side by side; the master staring gloomily straight before him, and the groom from time to time casting a sly glance at him from his squinting eyes. Then he urged his horse still nearer and said:

"Why should he know? I don't know why you are running after him as a cat chases a mouse."


"Nor why you came back from Plüggenhof so soon, have ridden the horses half to death, and gave me a louis-d'or when I told you I had seen him."

"I'll give you six if you'll tell me where I can find him," cried Carl Brandow, turning eagerly in his saddle.

"Where you can find him? Why that's easy enough; with the old man in the beach-house yonder."

"Where I cannot seek him."

"Without having the old man send a bullet through your body. Six louis-d'or! I think I should wait a long time for the money. But I will tell you where you can find him without the gold, if you'll let me ride Brownlock across the bog."

"Are you crazy?"

"I will cross it faster than you can cross the hill. Can I go?"

Before them the road ran in a tolerably steep ascent over a hill, an outlying spur of the Schanzenberge on the left, which stretched some distance into the moor. On the right of this hill a broad tract of marshy land extended across the moor to the forest, where it found an outlet in the stream whose course to the sea Gotthold had followed that afternoon. The summit of the hill had undoubtedly sunk into the marsh years before, for the long mound of earth divided it like a wall, which at the time it was engulfed had doubtless been very steep, but in the course of years had been so much washed away by the trickling of water down the hillside that, it now formed an irregular slope, along whose upper edge ran the old carriage road, while farther up the acclivity large stones made the way impassable for vehicles, although horsemen and pedestrians might wind through. The condition of affairs had probably not been so bad when Bogislaf and Adolf Wenhof were obliged to drive their horses along here at full gallop, for now no man in his senses would pass the spot in a carriage except at a walk, and Jochen Prebrow was perfectly right when he said that it would have been easy for him--or any one else--to execute Curt's wild order, and hurl the young pair down the slope into the bog on their wedding day.

The riders had stopped their horses; Carl Brandow looked up the hill and over the marsh.

"You are crazy," he said again.

"Crazy or not," exclaimed Hinrich Scheel impatiently, "it must be done. I went to Salchow this morning to hear what Mr. Thompson had to say. The fellow always knows everything, and declares that they have enclosed a piece of marshy ground in the race-course for Brownlock's special benefit, because they think he is too heavy to cross it, and you'll be obliged to take a wide sweep around. Well, sir, if you make the victory so easy for Bessy, Count Grieben and the other gentlemen will be very well satisfied, and I can be satisfied too."

"You would be no better, suited than I," said Brandow, and then muttered between his teeth: "everything is all of a piece now."

"Shall I?" said Hinrich Scheel, who probably perceived his master's irresolution.

"For aught I care."

A ray of joy flitted over Hinrich's ugly face. He turned the horse, which had long been champing his bit impatiently, and galloped a hundred paces to the left, to the edge of the marsh, then paused and shouted:




Brownlock sprang forward with a mighty leap, and then flew over the marshy ground. Again and again his light hoofs broke through the thin covering of turf, so that the water dashed high into the air, but his wild speed did not lessen, on the contrary it seemed to increase, as if the noble animal knew a bottomless gulf was yawning under him, and that he was running for his own life and that of his daring rider. And now the quaking soil grew visibly firmer. The deed scarcely believed possible had been accomplished, Brownlock had crossed the marsh, and would cross any other. "There is no doubt now," muttered Brandow, "I can accept every bet; and am I to let Plüggen have the animal for the paltry sum of five thousand thalers! I should be a fool! Besides, he probably was not in earnest; but the money must be forthcoming, even if I should have to steal or commit a murder for it. Holloa!"

He had not turned his eyes from Brownlock, as he rode across the hill at a gallop without noticing where he was going, until his chestnut, accustomed to pass this place at a walk, recoiled from the edge so suddenly that the gravel and pebbles rolled down the slope.

"Holloa!" cried Brandow again, as he soothed the frightened animal, "I came very near committing the murder on myself."

He rode down the other side of the hill more cautiously, and then dashed up to Hinrich, who was galloping up and down the edge of the bog, trying to soothe the snorting racer.

"What do you say to that, sir?"

"That you are a capital fellow; and now, since you have had your own way, where do you think I shall find him?"

"On the giant's grave," said Hinrich; "I went up there after he had gone away, and found a thing like a box. There was a little key sticking in it, and it held his painting tools, as I saw. The box had been put carefully in the shade; but about six o'clock the sunlight will fall where the shadow rested this morning, and I think he will be on the spot at that time."

"And why didn't you tell me so at once?"

"You may be satisfied that I didn't tell you," answered Hinrich, tenderly patting Brownlock's slender neck. "You wouldn't have known that you are, I don't know how many thousand thalers richer than you supposed."

"It is six o'clock," said Brandow, looking at his watch.

"Then ride on and find him. I must take Brownlock home. Shall I tell Frau Brandow that we shall have a visitor this evening?"

"I don't know that yet myself."

"She would be so delighted."

"Be off, and hold your tongue."

A repulsive grin overspread Hinrich's grotesque face, and he cast a piercing glance at his master, but made no reply, turned Brownlock, and rode slowly away.

"I might just as well tell him everything," said Carl Brandow to himself, as he turned his horse's head and rode over the moor towards the forest. "I believe the damned fellow sees through me as if I were glass. No matter; everybody must have some one on whom he can depend, and certainly I could not have done without him this time. I've no desire to invite the stupid fellow, but it is one chance more, and I should be a fool to hesitate long in my present situation."

Carl Brandow dropped the reins on his horse's neck as he rode slowly up the rough forest path at a walk, and drew from his pocket a letter which he had found on his return home, half an hour before:

"Dear Sir:--I hasten to inform you that, as I expected and told you, it was unanimously decided by the convent yesterday not to give an extension of credit, upon any account, but on the contrary to hold you to the promise given, both verbally and in writing, and require the ten thousand on the day it becomes due. I am very sorry to be obliged to write this to you, after what you told me in confidence; but I firmly believe that--with your excitable nature--you have considered your situation more desperate than it really is. In any case, I think it is better for you to know where you stand, and be able to use the week that still remains to discover new resources, if the old ones are really so entirely exhausted.

"I intend to pay you a short visit on the 15th, as I must go to several estates at that time, and can, if agreeable to you, take the money back with me and save you the trouble of a journey here. Perhaps my wife will accompany me. She is very anxious to see Dollan, of whose romantic situation I have spoken so enthusiastically, and also renew her acquaintance with her old friends--Frau Wollnow in Prora and your wife--after an absence of so many years. Do you require any stronger proof of my conviction that you can separate the messenger from his message, and that both to you and your lovely wife, I am as ever, Your sincere friend, Bernhard Sellien."

"P. S. I have just learned something that greatly interests me, and may perhaps interest you also. Gotthold Weber, the distinguished artist whose acquaintance I made two years ago in Italy, and with whom you, as you afterwards informed me, have been intimate ever since your school days, passed through Sundin to-day on his way to Prora, where he intends to spend some time. He will undoubtedly seek you out, or perhaps you will seek him. He belongs to the class of people whom we are glad to find, even if we are obliged to go out of our way to do so."

Carl Brandow laughed scornfully as he put the letter back into his pocket and took up the reins again.

"I believe the devil has his finger in the pie. Ever since I have known that the man will come here, I have been pursued by the thought that he, and only he, can save me. Why? Probably because only a fool would take the trouble, and he is the greatest one I ever knew. And while I drove by under his very nose this morning, everybody rushes forward to put me on the track he so carefully conceals. It was plain that the man Jochen dared not tell where he was, either this morning or just now, but he belongs to the class of people for whom we are willing to go out of our way. And what a charming surprise it will be for her, if I can bring him to her."

Again the rider laughed, even more bitterly than before, then stopped suddenly, gnawing his under lip with his teeth as he struck with his riding-whip at the overhanging boughs.

"How pale she grew when the parson blundered out the news. Of course she did not wish it to be noticed, of course. But unluckily we observe everything in a person with whom we have enjoyed the pleasure of daily intercourse for nine or ten years! How she looked when I took my departure so soon after, as if she knew the cause, and how silent she was on the way, although I exerted all my powers of pleasing. She no longer believes in my amiability, nor I either; but I have so often vexed her about the man that I might surely make him afford her pleasure for once. And if, as is very probable, the silly swain is playing at hide and seek more on her account than mine--why it will be all the easier to lead him by the nose, and the affair will be all the more amusing. But, to be sure, I must catch him first. Well, we shall see directly."

Carl Brandow swung himself from the saddle, fastened his horse's bridle to a tree, and began to ascend the narrow foot-path through the wood to the giant's grave.


Gotthold had already been working for half an hour with the zeal of an artist who has enthusiastically seized upon his subject, and must take advantage of the present hour, which will not return. Though sky, earth, and sea should adorn themselves at to-morrow's sunset with the same brilliant hues, though the hill should cast the same deep shadows upon the valley and ravines--he would not stand upon the same spot again to replace what had been forgotten, and complete what had been begun.

So he sat upon one of the lower stones of the giant's grave, drinking in, with an artist's glowing eyes, the beauty of the scene and hour, and with an artist's busy hand creating an image of this beauty. The colors on the palette seemed to mingle of their own accord, and every stroke of the brush upon the little square of canvas brought the image nearer its original with a speed and certainty which astonished the artist himself. Never before had any work progressed so rapidly, never had design and execution met so lovingly, never had the enthusiastic feeling of power made him so happy.

"Is it possible the dream that here alone I can reach the standard I am destined to attain may be something more than a dream?" he said to himself, "and is the hidden wisdom of the ancient myth of Antæus to be proved again in me? But to be sure we are all sons of earth; it is not our mother's fault if we struggle toward the distant suns, in whose strange glow our waxen wings quickly melt. I was such an Icarus yonder." "Yes, yes," he exclaimed aloud, "Rome, Naples, Syracuse, you Paradises of artists, what is this poor slip of earth in comparison with you! And yet to me it is more, so much more, it is my home."

"To which an old friend bids you heartily welcome," said a clear voice behind him.

Gotthold started and turned.

"Carl Brandow!"

There he stood, his slight, elastic figure resting against the very block upon which the serpent had lain that morning; and his round, hard eyes, whose piercing gaze was fixed upon him, reminded Gotthold of the staring eyes of the reptile.

"To be sure it is I," said Carl Brandow, as he came forward with a smile intended to be friendly, but which was as cold as the hand he held out to Gotthold, and in which the latter hesitatingly placed the tips of his fingers.

"How did you find me here?" asked Gotthold.

"I am an old hunter," replied Brandow, showing his white teeth. "Nothing escapes me so easily, especially on my own ground. But I will not boast. The matter was really simple enough. I knew several weeks ago that you were coming, and this afternoon I heard, when with Plüggen, of Plüggenhof, Otto Plüggen, we used to call him Straw Plüggen, you know, to distinguish him from his younger brother, Gustav, Hay Plüggen, who has inherited Gransewitz--I was saying: I heard from our new Pastor that you had been in Rammin yesterday evening, and had driven on to Prora. Of course Plüggen, at my request, instantly sent his carriage to bring you to Plüggenhof; you were no longer there, but had set out on foot with Jochen Prebrow for Dollan. Well, of course I did not remain in Plüggenhof a moment longer, although we had just sat down to the table to receive you with full glasses. I drove my horses half to death, and nearly killed my poor wife with fright, in order at least to meet you on the way, in case you had been cruel enough not to wait for our return. We arrived and asked for you before we got out of the carriage: no one had been there. My wife and I looked at each other in horror. 'There is somebody sitting on the giant's grave,' said my factotum, Hinrich Scheel, who now came up to the carriage; 'I saw him there this noon.' 'It's not impossible,' said my wife, that 'he has learned on the way that we were not at home, and, industrious as usual, is making use of the time. It was always one of his favorite spots.' I said nothing, but ran up to the gable-room with my spy-glass, and saw what Hinrich, in spite of his squint eyes, had seen without any glass; ran down again, jumped on a horse, and--find here what I sought. That painting is wonderfully beautiful, really splendid; but now pack up your traps, if you please! Another day is coming, and this is enough, and too much for the present. From noon until now is certainly long enough, even for an artist. How delighted my wife will be!"

Carl Brandow had already thrown Gotthold's travelling bag over his shoulder, and now seized the box which the latter had been arranging.

"One moment," said Gotthold.

"You can safely trust me with your treasures."

"That is not the point."

"What is it then?"

Gotthold hesitated; but there was no time for deliberation.

"It is this," said he; "I cannot accept your invitation, kindly as it is expressed and honestly as, I wish to believe, it is meant."

"For Heaven's sake, why not?"

"Because in so doing I should wrong myself, and, in a certain sense, you also. Myself: because I could not stay in Dollan, in your house, without being at every step, at every moment, a prey to the most painful memories; and who would not willingly spare himself such a trial, if he could avoid it? You: because--it must be said, Brandow! I have always considered you my enemy, and my sentiments towards you have been no friendly ones, even up to this very day, this very hour. Who would invite a man who is not well disposed towards him to his house!"

"Is it possible?" cried Brandow. "Then that straw head of a Plüggen and the Parson may have been right when they said: 'He won't come!' 'He will come,' said I, 'if only to prove that he is still the generous fellow he always was!' No, Gotthold, you must not give me the lie, if only on account of those silly fellows, and people like them, who would then have another fine opportunity to make merry over Carl Brandow, who always aims very high and then comes out at the little end of the horn. Well, unhappily there is something in it: I am no longer what I was once, but a poor devil who must learn to be modest; but this time I won't be, just this time. And now your hand, old enemy! there, that's right! I knew you better than you knew yourself."

They began to descend the hill, Brandow, who insisted upon carrying Gotthold's luggage, still talking eagerly in his hasty, often incoherent manner, Gotthold silent and vainly trying to shake off the bewilderment that clouded his brain and oppressed his heart; he had tried to be frank, perfectly frank; but he had not been so: he had not said the last thing because he could not, because he must appear like a fool, a coxcomb, if he did, and like a rude unmannerly boor if he did not, and simply answered: I will not. But would not even that have been better than for them to meet again?

Gotthold stood still, and threw back his coat and vest; he felt as if he were stifling.

"It's terribly sultry here in the wood," said Carl Brandow. "It would have been much nearer if we had gone down the other side, and then crossed the fields; but we were obliged to make this circuit to get my horse. There stands the rascal, stamping his shoes off in his impatience. Now then, en avant!"

Brandow threw the bridle over his arm and Gotthold took a portion of his luggage, so they walked quickly through the woods by a cross path, which soon brought them out into the fields. At a short distance, only separated from them by a few meadows and a broad field of rye, stood the manor-house, already partly in the shadow which the hill on the left-hand side of the moor cast far into the valley, while the tops of the taller trees in the garden and the crests of the huge poplars, which enclosed the grounds on the three other sides, still glowed in the light of the setting sun. The little window of the gable-room glittered and flashed back his rays. Gotthold could scarcely turn his eyes away; he fancied every moment that it must open and Cecilia appear and wave her white hand towards him with a gesture of warning: no nearer, for God's sake, no nearer! And then it seemed to him as if he were once more back in the old days, when he used to come out with Curt to spend a precious Saturday afternoon and delightful Sunday, and in their impatience to reach their goal they ran the last part of the way at full speed. At every step his agitation increased; he scarcely heard what his companion was saying to him.

But Carl Brandow was only talking in order to conceal from his guest the anxiety that oppressed him. Would it not have been better to have told her of his design, even at the risk of her opposition, or, still worse, of affording her pleasure? Ought he not at least to have taken advantage of the last opportunity, and prepared her for the visit by Hinrich Scheel, instead of expressly commanding him to be silent? Or would the clever fellow once more, as he had often done, follow his own counsel and guide an ill-managed affair into the right course? And yet, what could happen if he suddenly appeared before her with him? Would she give him the lie in the presence of her guest, say she had known nothing about his visit, and her husband had told an untruth? It was certainly possible; but woe be unto her if she did so.

"Here we are," said Carl Brandow, as they reached the old linden before the door. "Welcome to Dollan! Welcome!"

He had spoken in a very loud tone, standing in the open doorway, and now shouted, raising his clear voice to its highest pitch, "Hinrich, Fritz!--where are they all?"

But there was no movement within the house, and no one appeared in the courtyard.

"It is always just so on Sundays," said Brandow, "Everybody runs wild, especially if the master is away from home. Rike! Hinrich! Fritz!"

A half-grown lad, in a dirty red waistcoat and top boots, now came running across the courtyard, and at the same moment a young girl appeared from the house. Brandow received both with angry words. The girl answered pertly: she had been with the mistress, who could not quiet the child; it was still crying about its arm; and the boy muttered as he took the horse's bridle: he had been obliged to help Hinrich about Brownlock; he was threatened with the colic.

"Deuce take it!" cried Brandow; "that damned Hinrich, this is what I get by letting him have his own way! I must leave you alone a moment, or will you come with me?"

Brandow did not wait for Gotthold's reply, but hurried across the courtyard with long strides. He must know what was the matter with Brownlock. And then: Cecilia had enough to do in the nursery; she would not come out at present.

"What is the matter with the child?" asked Gotthold.

"She fell down just as the mistress got home, and has probably broken her arm," said the girl, who had been gazing curiously at the stranger with her merry gray eyes, and now hurried back into the house.


Gotthold followed her through the entry and into the sitting-room on the left, and would gladly have entered the adjoining chamber, from which, as the girl opened and closed the door, the wailing of a child and a woman's voice consoling it were distinctly audible. It was her voice,--somewhat deeper and more gentle, it seemed to him, than in the old days, but he had only distinguished a few tones above the moaning of the child.

"Poor thing," he murmured, "poor child, if I could only help it."

His hand was extended towards the handle of the door, but instantly fell again. If the girl had told her he was there, she would probably come out for a moment; at any rate Carl must soon return.

He stationed himself at the open window and looked across the empty courtyard towards the building Brandow had entered. How could he stay so long! He again turned back into the room, which was already beginning to grow dark, and his eyes wandered mechanically over the furniture and pictures, many of which he thought he recognized, while his ear was strained to catch the sounds from the next room. But everything there had now become quiet, and in the stillness the old Black Forest clock ticked so loudly--he had not noticed it before--the evening breeze whispered in the linden before the window, and then once more he heard nothing except the blood beating in his temples.

Had any misfortune happened? Was the child--he must have some certainty.

But just as he took a step forward, the door opened and Cecilia entered. The girl had told her nothing about the stranger; she came to get a piece of linen from her work-basket, which stood in one of the windows. The shadows fell heavily over Gotthold, and she did not see him--her eyes were turned towards the window--until she had almost reached him, when she suddenly paused, extending both hands in terror towards the dark figure. The light of the setting sun streamed full upon her pallid face, from which the large dark eyes stared with a strange glassy look.

"It is I, Cecilia!"


He did not know that he held out his arms; the next moment he would not have been able to say whether she had really rested upon his breast. When he was again conscious of what was passing around him, he was standing beside her at the child's little bed.

"The girl was playing with Gretchen just before we came home--she fell with her arm under her; I thought she had only bruised it; but it has grown worse and worse, she cannot move it, and cries at the slightest touch; I think she has broken it here above the wrist."

Gotthold had bent over the child, who gazed at him in surprise, but without the least alarm. He thought he was looking into Cecilia's eyes.

"Are you the new doctor?" asked the little girl.

"No, Gretchen, I am not a doctor, but if you love your mamma you will let me take hold of your arm."

"It hurts so," said Gretchen.

"I won't be long."

Gotthold took the little arm and moved it at the shoulder and elbow--the child made no resistance; then he passed his hand carefully down the lower arm to the joint and bent the wrist a little. The child uttered a low cry. Gotthold laid the arm gently back on the coverlet and stood erect.

"I think I can assure you that the arm is not broken; it is nothing more than a severe sprain. I should like to put on a bandage, which will relieve Gretchen's pain, because it will prevent her from moving the joint. That will be sufficient until the doctor comes. May I?"

He had spoken in a low tone, but the child heard.

"Let him do it, mamma," she said; "I like the new doctor a great deal better than the old one."

A few large tears ran down Cecilia's pale cheeks, and Gotthold's own eyes grew hot. He asked whether she had a certain kind of bandage which he described; one was brought, exactly what he needed. As he rolled it he said:

"It is fortunate, that during the years I spent in study I visited, in the interests of my art and also from real love of the profession, various anatomical and other medical colleges. I have already been able, on several occasions, to make my little knowledge useful, when no other aid was at hand and the case was rather worse than this. I repeat, there is not the least danger, and I would, if necessary, undertake to effect a cure without the least hesitation."

"I have perfect confidence in you."

Gotthold's lips quivered. They had always addressed each other by the familiar "thou," nor had he, either in dreams or waking visions, called her by any other title during the last ten years.

The bandage was adjusted to Gotthold's satisfaction. Gretchen, exhausted by weeping, and now entirely free from pain, had laid her head on her pillow and seemed about to fall asleep. Gotthold left the chamber and went back to the sitting-room. While groping about in the dark for his hat, the most singular sensation overpowered him.

He had not forgotten that he wished to find Brandow and tell him of the child's condition, but it seemed as if the intention was entirely unnecessary; as if Carl Brandow cared as little about the child as he did about Carl Brandow's horse; as if only he and Cecilia had anything to do with it, and as though this had been not only during the last quarter of an hour, but always, and could never be different.

Oppressed by this strange bewilderment, he stood motionless, and only regained his senses when Cecilia entered quietly, but hastily, held out both hands to him, and said in a low, rapid tone:

"I thank thee, Gotthold, and--I noticed that the formal 'you' wounded thee, but the girl was looking at us in such astonishment; she repeats everything, and besides, it must be, but once--for the last time--I wanted to speak in the old way, as thou wert here once more."

"That sounds, Cecilia, as if you[2] had not wished me to come."

She had now released her hands, which he had clasped firmly in his own, and thrown herself into a chair by the window, supporting her head on her hand. He went up to her.

"Cecilia, did you not wish me to come?"

"Yes, yes," she murmured, "I have longed to see you again--for years--always; but you ought not to have come; no, you ought not to have come!"

"Then I will go, Cecilia."

"No, no," she exclaimed, hastily raising her head, "I do not mean that. You are here--the mischief is done. And now you can stay--you must stay until--"

She paused suddenly. Gotthold, who was following the direction of her eyes, glanced through the open window and saw at the end of the court-yard Carl Brandow talking with Hinrich Scheel, whom he now left and came hurriedly towards the house.

"He has returned already," she murmured; "what will you say to him?"

"I don't understand you, Cecilia,"

"He hates you."

"Then I don't know why he sought me out and gave me such a pressing invitation to his home, which I certainly had never intended to enter."

"He sought you out--invited you--that is impossible."

"Then he meant to make me--us--but that is no less impossible."

She looked at him in astonishment.

"Impossible!" she said, "impossible!"

A strange, sad smile flitted over her pale face.

"Then everything can remain as it was," she said, "it is all right."

"Holloa!" cried Brandow, who had seen them both at the window, and now quickened his already hasty steps and eagerly waved his hand.

He entered the room immediately, after calling from the door: "Ah! so you have found her already! Isn't this a surprise, eh? What am I to get for it? Ah! a man must be cunning. Not a word to the wife, who would make all sorts of well-meant objections about old enmity and other long-forgotten follies; and then tell the friend she will be on tenter-hooks till I bring him home. That's the way to catch one's birds!"

He laughed loudly.

"You will wake Gretchen," said Cecilia.

"Yes, what is the matter with her?" asked Brandow, lowering his voice. "I hope it is nothing serious, a false alarm, as it was with Brownlock, or--where are you going, Cecilia?"

She had risen and entered the next room, closing the door behind her. Gotthold informed Carl how he had found the child, and what he had done for the present.

"But shall we need to send for the doctor at once?" said Brandow.

"I do not think it absolutely necessary," replied Gotthold, "but if you are at all anxious--"

"I anxious? God forbid! It would be the first time in my life. I leave all that to my wife, who, if the child is in question--oh! here you are! Gotthold says we need not send for Lauterbach immediately, and besides it would be of very little use; he is never to be found on Sundays. I shall be obliged to drive over early to-morrow morning and then I can bring him back with me. Don't you think that will do?"

"Will you look at Gretchen again?" said Cecilia. She did not glance at her husband, but addressed Gotthold, who followed her, leaving the door open behind him, in the expectation that Brandow would go with them; but he had paused half way. Gnawing his under lip, he looked through the open door at the pair, who were now standing one on each side of the child's little bed, bending over it, so that in the dusk their faces seemed to touch. Were they not whispering: "he has deceived us," or something of the kind? No, it was Rieke who had spoken. "The girl shall keep a sharp watch for me. So far everything has gone better than I could expect."

He went slowly into the room; involuntarily pausing a moment upon the threshold, which he had not crossed for a long time, and shrinking from a bluish light that suddenly filled the apartment, now almost dark. But it was nothing--only the first flash of lightning from a thunder-storm which had risen at the close of the sultry day. Thunder rolled in the distance, the trees in the garden swayed to and fro, and a few heavy drops of rain plashed against the window-panes.

The storm had long subsided and the night was far advanced when Gotthold, treading softly and carefully, shielding his light with his hand, crossed the wide garretlike entry, lumbered with all sorts of articles, towards the gable-room, which had been assigned him as his sleeping apartment. Brandow, with whom he had been sitting until this time over a bottle of wine in the room on the right-hand side of the entry, which had always been appropriated by the master of the house, had wished to accompany him, but Gotthold declined: he could find the way; two pairs of boots made more noise than one, and he remembered that footsteps on the upper floor sounded remarkably loud at night. "Well then, go alone, you stickler for everybody's comfort," said Brandow laughing, "and remember, sleep off all thoughts of going away to-morrow; I tell you once for all I won't hear of it. I'll stop for Jochen Prebrow as I pass the smithy to-morrow; he can sit on the box with my Fritz, and I'll bring your luggage out to you. I shan't let you leave under a week, and if I had my way you should stay here always. But you'll take good care not to do that; such a life would be unendurable to a man of the world. Well, I have complained of my fate more than is seemly; but in the presence of a man of your stamp, one is too painfully reminded of what he might perhaps have made himself, and what he has finally become. Good night, old fellow, and pleasant dreams!"

And now Gotthold stood at the open window in the cosy old gable-room. But eagerly as he inhaled the night breeze, which blew fresh and cool through the trees, still dripping with rain-drops, it did not lighten his heart, which throbbed heavily and painfully in his panting breast, like a sleeper whose brain is oppressed by some painful dream. Was it not all a mad dream that he was standing in Dollan in the gable-room, gazing at the dim light which fell upon the dark shrubbery from the window below him, the window of the room where she had slept when a girl, and in which she now watched beside the bed of her child, her child and his--

Gotthold sank into a chair beside the window, and pressed his hands upon his burning brow.

A gust of wind which sighed through the rustling trees roused him from his painful reverie. He started up with a shiver. His limbs trembled as if in a fever. He shut the window, and threw himself in the darkness--the light he had brought with him had gone out long before--upon the bed. It was the very same one in which he had so often slept when a boy and a youth, and it stood in the same place. He had noticed that when he entered the room. Now he thought of it again, and remembered the last time he had lain here--ten years ago, in the early morning after the night, the first part of which he had spent in the beach-house with Cousin Boslaf, and a few hours after, when they were awake below, he was to go down and bid them farewell forever--then too he; had turned his burning head first on one side and then the other upon the pillows, and had been unable to find rest anywhere.

"After wandering through the wide world so long to be whirled back to this little room, the same as I was then! No, not the same! Poorer, much poorer!

When I wandered away, away, away, Coffers and chests were heavy; As homeward I turn my steps to-day, Everything is empty.

"Empty, empty!" he murmured, as if his burning, wakeful eyes could read the cheerless words from the white wall opposite to him, on whose bare surface the first gray light of dawn was struggling with the darkness of night.


A succession of quiet days had passed over quiet Dollan, and each one was to have been the last Gotthold spent upon the estate, but there was always some reason why another was added. Once it was the unfinished sketch, which must be more nearly completed; then Gretchen wept so bitterly because Uncle Gotthold was going that morning, when it was her birthday; on Thursday the rye was cut, the farm hands had a little festival in the evening, and had arranged all sorts of amusing sports in which, through old Statthalter Möller, they begged Gotthold to help them a little; on Friday a young architect arrived, who wanted to show a plan for the new house, and Brandow was very anxious to have Gotthold's opinion about it; the next day his departure could not be thought of, because Brandow would be absent on business all day long, and the day after the Herr Assessor Sellien had promised to come with his wife, and Otto and Gustav Plüggen, Herr Redebas, from Dahlitz, and several other neighbors would arrive; there was to be quite a little company; Brandow had written to everybody that Gotthold would be there, everybody was anticipating the pleasure of meeting him, and, in a word, nothing could be said about going away before Monday, and on Monday they would discuss the subject again.

It was Saturday afternoon; Brandow had ridden away in the morning and told Gotthold that he should not return before evening. The business must have been very urgent which could call the master away from his estate on such a day. Brandow was very much behindhand in getting in his rye, and moreover did not even have an inspector, though he had repeatedly complained to Gotthold of the stupid old Statthalter Möller, on whom he could not depend at all, so the crowd of laborers who were to-day employed in the fields and barn were left entirely to themselves. Gotthold had offered to take control of them, if Brandow was obliged to go away; but the latter, although he knew that Gotthold really understood the business, and that the people were fond of him and would have willingly obeyed him, most positively declined the proposal.

"It's bad enough for me to be compelled to commit the rudeness of leaving you alone all day; more than that you must not require. So long as it is possible to avoid it, you know I am not accustomed to incommode my friends."

With these words he had ridden away, and Gotthold had taken his painting utensils, in order to have an excuse for leaving the house and wandering through the woods and along the sea-shore; he strolled restlessly on without any definite purpose, until he recollected that he had heard from the old fisherman, Carl Peters, of Ralow, that Cousin Boslaf would return from his expedition to Sundin this very evening. Carl Peters must know, for the old man had given him the key of the beach-house, that he might light the lamp in the evening and keep watch at night; besides, Carl Peters' son had accompanied Cousin Boslaf on his expedition. So Gotthold went to the beach-house and sat down to wait on the bluff in the shadow of the beeches; but the sea broke upon the shore with such a melancholy, monotonous cadence, the sunny hours dragged along so slowly, and besides, if he wanted to tell her that he had decided to leave Dollan to-morrow instead of Monday, this was the right time.

"The mistress is in the garden with Gretchen," said pretty Rieke; "you know her favorite seat."

Gotthold looked quietly at the girl, who hastily averted her face. The last remark was at least superfluous, for the garden was not so large that any one could not easily find the person he sought; but moreover Rieke had spoken in a tone which jarred upon Gotthold's ear. He had often thought the girl's merry gray eyes wandered from him to Cecilia, and from Cecilia back to him, with a watchful glance, and she had several times entered the room quickly, or approached them elsewhere, always with the question whether they had called her. He had remembered Cecilia's words on the first evening of their meeting, "She repeats everything," and mentally added: "She shall have nothing to tell."

"Well, her amusement will be over to-morrow," he thought to himself, as he went slowly up the walk, bordered on each side with hedges, towards a small spot, also surrounded with hedges and adorned with beds of flowers, where Cecilia usually remained at this hour with her child.

Gretchen came running to meet him as soon as she caught sight of him.

"Where have you been, Uncle Gotthold? What have you brought me?"

He was always in the habit of bringing the child some rare flower, oddly shaped pebble, or other curiosity on his return from his rambles; but to-day, for the first time, he had not thought of it. Gretchen was very indignant "I don't love you any more," she said, running back to her mother; "and mamma shan't love you either!" she exclaimed, raising her little head from her mother's lap.

Gotthold, after greeting Cecilia, had seated himself at a short distance from her on another bench, as he always did if she did not invite him to take his place beside her. She had not done so to-day, and scarcely looked up from her work when she silently gave him her hand. It had made a painful impression upon him, but as he watched her quietly, he thought he noticed that her eyelids were red. Had she wished to conceal the traces of recent tears, to hide the fact that she could still weep, that the cold expressionless glance with which she now seemed to look beyond him towards the child, who was playing at the other end of the glade, was not the only expression of which the eyes which had formerly beamed with such a gentle light were now capable?

"I can bear it no longer," the young man murmured to himself.

He had risen and approached Cecilia, who, as he came up, drew her dress away, although there was plenty of room on the large seat.

"Cecilia," he said, "I have given a half-promise to stay until Monday, but it occurred to me that the Selliens, if they come to-morrow, will probably spend the night here, and perhaps some of your other guests, and as your accommodations are somewhat limited;--"

"You wish to go!" interrupted Cecilia; "why not say so plainly?"

She had looked up from her work, as Gotthold began to speak, with a quick, pained glance that cut him to the heart; but when she answered, her voice sounded perfectly calm, though a little hollow, and she even smiled as she took up her sewing again.

"When do you wish to go?" she added after a pause, as Gotthold, unable to reply, was still silent.

"I thought of leaving early to-morrow morning," he answered, and it seemed as if some one else had uttered the words. "Carl told me that he should send a carriage to town then."

"Early to-morrow morning!"

She had dropped her work in her lap again, and for a moment covered her eyes and forehead with her left hand, while the fingers of her right, which rested on the work, trembled slightly; then her hand fell heavily, and she stared fixedly at the ground with a frowning brow, as she said in the same hollow tone: "What reason should I have to keep you?"

"Perhaps because you might be glad to see me here," answered Gotthold.

He thought she had not heard the words, but they had been distinctly audible; the pause only lasted until she was sure that she could speak again without bursting into tears. She would not, dared not weep, and now regained her self-control.

"You know I am," she replied; "but that is no reason for wishing to keep you. I feel too well how unpleasant life is here, how monotonous, how tiresome to all who are not accustomed to it, and one cannot become accustomed to things in a few days, it requires years, long years. So I invite no one--I cannot believe anybody takes pleasure in coming; and I detain no one--I can easily imagine that a guest is glad to go. Why should I treat you differently from others?"

"There is no reason, if I am no more to you than others."

"More? What does that imply? Oh! you mean because we knew each other so early in life, because we were friends when we were both young? But what does that signify? What is youthful friendship? And do we remain the same? You have done so perhaps, at least in the principal thing, but I certainly have not; I resemble the Cecilia of those days as little as--as reality resembles our dreams; and besides--I am married; a wife needs no friend, has no friend, if she loves her husband, and if she does not--"

"Let us suppose the latter case," said Gotthold, as Cecilia suddenly paused.

"The case is not so simple as it seems," she answered, examining the stitches in her sewing; "yes, many cases may be imagined. For instance, it is very probable that he loves her, and even a woman of very little nobility of character is rarely insensible to and ungrateful for true love; but granted that he does not love her, loves her no longer, perhaps never has loved her--well, then everything will depend upon how the wife is constituted. Perhaps she is not proud, and therefore not ashamed to confess her unhappiness to a friend, who might then venture to become her lover; or if she is proud, she will do--I know not what, but certainly she would conceal herself in the deepest chasm in the earth, rather than give way and say, no matter to whom, I am unhappy!"

"And if that is not necessary, if her misery is written on her brow, looks from her eyes, speaks in every tone of her voice?"

Something flitted over Cecilia's face like the shadow of a cloud; but she smoothed her work with special care, as she answered in a passionless, almost monotonous voice:

"Who can say that? Who is so wise that he can read upon the brow of any human being the thoughts that are passing within, without ever deceiving himself or making another's face the mirror of his own beloved vanity? But we have fallen into a very disagreeable conversation. Tell me, instead, where you are going when you leave here, and where you expect to live in future? You will not return to Italy? It seems to me you told me so a short time ago."

"Thanks for your interest in me," replied Gotthold, with trembling lips; "but I have made no definite plans as yet. When I left Rome, it was certainly with the desire to remain here in the North, at least for some time, and try whether home could ever become home again to me; but the attempt will probably not succeed, nay, I think has already failed."

"It seems to me that this is rather too soon to decide such a question," said Cecilia; "but the matter is probably of importance only to us; you fortunate artists have your home in your art, and you take that with you wherever you turn your steps."

"And yet, I think, we can have our art only at home," replied Gotthold.

"That is?"

"That is, that only in his home can the artist reach the highest point his talents will enable him to attain. I have formed this conclusion from the history of all arts, which have only prospered when the artists had the good fortune to be supplied with subjects furnished by the country of which they were citizens and the time in which they lived-for in this sense, time is also the artist's home: I mean: when they had the good fortune, and of course the power also, to be able to freely develop their talents on their native soil, and upon subjects furnished by their home. I have also drawn this inference from my own observation, which has taught me that those who were unable to find any materials for their art at home--subjects identified with the place and time--were no true artists, but either dilettanti and imitators, or positive charlatans, who deceived with their artificial productions, destitute alike of life and merit, only the great multitude--the beggarly crowd--to which they, in the inmost depths of their natures, certainly belonged."

When Gotthold first began to speak upon this subject, which at that moment was very far from his thoughts, he had only wished to soothe the tumult of his soul, or at least to conceal it from the pale woman by his side; then, carried away by the theme, he had spoken with a certain earnestness, and at last with a freedom of which, a moment before, he would not have believed himself capable. And so, at first absently, but gradually with more eagerness, Cecilia had listened; a ray of the old fire flashed from her dark eye as she asked,

"And does this apply to you?"

"It does; that is, it was a misfortune that through my unhappy quarrel with my father, and in consequence of several sorrowful memories upon which it is not worth while to enter here,--it was a misfortune that I was, in a certain measure, banished from my home at the moment when I could least dispense with it: the flowers I had sought for in the meadows when a child; the trees under which the boy played, through whose tops he saw the sunbeams glide and heard the rain patter; the skies which at one time could laugh so brightly and anon look so unspeakably gloomy, so infinitely dreary; the sea, over whose smooth surface, gleaming in the sunset, or billows black with storm, the fancy of the youth had hovered, sailed out to the regions of the Blest, and the mournful, misty realms of his dreams of battle and conflict and early heroic death: all this--I mean the things and the dreams--I might have been able to paint, to the pleasure and delight of others, in whom, by my pictures, I might have awakened memories of their own childhood, boyhood, and youth; what I paint now I have not drawn from my own soul, have not painted, cannot paint with my whole heart, so how can it, at best, be anything more than sounding brass?"

"Then why are you artists so eager to go to foreign lands?" asked Cecilia.

She seemed once more the intelligent young girl, whose radiant dark eyes reflected the restless ardor of her mind, from whose lips fell silvery laughter, and then grave, earnest words.

"I think this eagerness is often blind and foolish," replied Gotthold, "and, at any rate, I would always advise a young artist not to go to Rome until his own ideas are firmly fixed, or he will be a mere plaything of the winds and clouds. Goethe had written his works on German art, and long been a master of it, when he went to Italy; so he could quietly compose his Faust beneath the pines in the garden of the Villa Borghese, and return laden with the rich treasures of his observations of the country, the people, and the events which for centuries had taken place beneath its glorious skies, and yet remain to the very depths of his artist soul precisely the same as he was before. It is just the same in the republic of the arts as in the state, Cecilia. What citizen could understand the great relations of the government who had not first practised his powers of vision upon the smaller affairs of the parish; who could render any valuable service to the parish, who had not learned to rule his own household; who could manage his house, direct and govern his family, who did not know how to rule and guide himself?"

Gertrude had come up while Gotthold was speaking; Cecilia lifted her into her lap, and the child sat there silently, as if she knew she must not interrupt. Now, as Gotthold paused, she said, "Mamma, I want Uncle Gotthold to be my papa!"

A deep flush crimsoned Cecilia's face, and she hastily tried to put Gretchen down, but the child would not give up the point so easily. She threw her right arm around her mother's neck, and said, coaxingly, "Can't he, mamma; he has such pretty blue eyes, and is always kind to you, and papa is often so horrid; can't he, mamma?"

Cecilia hastily rose with the child in her arms, and took a few paces forward, as if she wished to fly from the place. But her knees trembled, she could go no farther, and was obliged to put Gretchen down, who, alarmed by her mother's impetuosity, ran away crying, but the next moment forgot her grief at the sight of some bright-hued butterflies which fluttered before her over the flower-beds. Cecilia still stood motionless with her face averted.

"Cecilia!" said Gotthold.

He had approached her, and tried to take the hand that hung by her side. She turned, and the face of Medusa confronted him.

"Cecilia!" exclaimed Gotthold, again extending his hands.

She did not draw back, she did not stir; the rigid features were motionless, except for the quivering of the half-parted lips, and then the words came slowly, like the last drops of blood from a mortal wound.

"I do not need your sympathy, do you hear? I have given you no right to pity me, neither you nor any one else. Why do you torture me?"

"I shall not torture you long, Cecilia; I have told you I am going."

"Why don't you go then? Why do you speak to me of such things? To me? You will drive me mad, and--I won't go mad."

"This is madness, Cecilia," cried Gotthold passionately. "If you do not love him--and you do not, you cannot--no divine, and certainly no human law, compels you to remain, to pine, to die in nameless misery. And he loves you no better than you do him."

"Did he tell you so?"

"Is it necessary?"

"On your honor, Gotthold, did he tell you so?"

"No, but--"

"And suppose he did love me, for all that, and--I loved him? How can you dare speak to me as you have spoken? How can you dare give me the lie by your silence, humiliate me so deeply in my own eyes! Is this your boasted friendship?"

Gotthold bent his head and turned away. Gretchen came to meet him.

"Where are you going, Uncle Gotthold?"

He raised the child in his arms, kissed her, put her on the ground, and went on.

"Why is Uncle Gotthold crying, mamma?" asked Gretchen, pulling her mother's dress. "Papa can't cry, can he, mamma?"

Cecilia made no reply; her wide tearless eyes were fixed on the spot where Gotthold had disappeared between the beeches.

"Forever," she murmured, "forever!"


When Gotthold reached the little wooden gate, which, shaded by a half-decayed linden-tree, afforded egress through the rough hedge on this side of the garden, he paused and glanced cautiously over the sunny fields towards the forest. He could not have endured to meet any one just now, perhaps be obliged to stop and answer a greeting or question. But he saw no one; all were in the great rye-field, where they had been toiling all day; the path to the forest was open.

The sun shone with a fierce burning glow, and the heated air quivered over the wheat, which was already beginning to ripen, and whose stout stalks were unstirred by the faintest breeze; countless cicadas chirped and buzzed noisily on both sides of the narrow path that wound through the fields; a large flock of wild pigeons circled at no very great height in the air, and as they wheeled with lightning-like speed, the moving cloud glittered in the rays of the setting sun against the clear blue sky like a shield of polished steel.

Gotthold saw all this, because he was accustomed to live with nature, and even felt the electricity that pervaded the atmosphere, but only as being perfectly in harmony with the conflict that oppressed his heart. Shame had long since dried the burning tears grief had forced from his eyes; shame for having, by his want of self-control, produced this scene, in which, after eight long days of torture, he had finally played the undignified part of the third person, only to learn that she still loved this man, and her unhappiness consisted in the knowledge that she was not as much beloved by him as she desired to be. "On your honor, Gotthold, did he tell you so?" In what a despairing tone she had uttered the words! How the dread of hearing a "yes" had disfigured her beautiful face! "Is this your boasted friendship?" Yes, his friendship, with which he had been troublesome to her years before, with which he was troublesome now, only that he could no longer hide himself behind its mask as in those days, only that he no longer had the poor consolation of being able to slip away unnoticed and unperceived, as he had done that night.

He had lain here on the edge of the forest, under the great beech-tree, in the darkness of the night, and plucked up the moss, and cursed himself and the whole world because, by the pale light of the moon, he had seen two happy lovers. Now the sun glared broadly upon his couch of pain, as if it wished to show him how childish his grief had been, and that he should have reserved his despair for this hour. She had been happy! Gotthold tried to laugh, but the sound that came from his tortured breast was a cry, a dull moaning cry like that of a wounded animal. Even so had he wailed when he tottered along this very path through the sultry woods that night, and the trees danced around him in the dim moonlight like mocking spectres. Now they stood in brazen sun-steeped ranks, and seemed to say: What do we care for your self-created anguish, you fool!

And what do I care for your misery! said the sea, which, now as he emerged from the forest upon the bluff, stretched before him in a blackish-blue expanse, as if petrified in its unapproachable majesty. He had seen it under this aspect once before, one afternoon when he had been wandering along the rocky cliffs of Anacapri, and it had given him the subject for one of his best paintings; but now he only bestowed a passing thought upon it, as the memory of the cool forest shade and murmuring fountain by which he sat a short time before, flits through the burning brain of a sun-scorched wanderer on a dusty highway.

Below him in the little inlet, which had been toilsomely dug in the rocky shore, were the boats which belonged to the estate. During the last few days he had often used the smaller one to row to various places along the coast, and had the key of the chain by which it was fastened to the stake in his pocket.

Broader and broader grew the shadow which fell from the shore upon the sea and overtook Gotthold, as with powerful strokes he began to row across the wide bay, at whose extreme southern point stood the beach-house, now brightly illumined by the sunlight. But the shadow did not proceed from the shore, but a black wall of clouds which, of perfectly uniform breadth, rose slowly in the heavens, and whose sharp upper edge glowed and sparkled with a gloomy fire. It was a heavy thunderstorm from the land. Well, let it come! Gotthold longed to escape from the sultry atmosphere that brooded over his soul, and breathe freely once more in the strife of the elements. A fiery shaft quivered across the black wall of clouds, then a second, a third; and with marvellous speed the dark curtain rose higher and higher, extinguishing every gleam of light in sky and shore, and upon the sea, over which the wind now whistled in gusts, furrowing its mirror-like surface and soon lashing it into foaming surges.

Waves and wind turned Gotthold's little boat aside from its course and drove it, as if in sport, towards the sea, though now, clearly perceiving his danger, he tried to guide it to the shore. After a few strokes he realized that his only hope of deliverance was that the storm might pass as quickly as it had come.

But it seemed as if the fiends of darkness had heard his sacrilegious words and were now determined to have their victim. The black shadow spread farther and farther over the raging sea; only a few white sails still gleamed in the distant horizon, and now they also disappeared in the darkness; the waves dashed still higher, and the boat receded still faster from the shore, where already, even to Gotthold's keen eye, the white bluff and the dark forest that crowned it blended together in one gray line. There was no longer any doubt that the skiff would be driven into the open sea, unless, which might happen at any moment, some wave upset it; nay, it seemed a miracle that this had not already occurred.

Gotthold calmly did what he could to save himself; he carefully watched the rise and fall of every approaching wave and kept the boat's head to the wind, now with the right oar, now with the left, and anon making a powerful stroke with both. If it upset, all depended upon whether it sank immediately or floated on the surface. In the latter case his situation was not utterly desperate; he might perhaps be able to cling to it, and, if the wind veered, either be carried back to land, or rescued by some passing ship; but if the boat sank, he was lost according to all human calculation. He could not put down the oars a moment to divest himself of his clothing, and not even so good a swimmer as himself could hope, fully clad, to swim for many hours in such a sea, especially as he already began to feel that his strength, carefully as he had husbanded it, was gradually beginning to fail.

Gradually at first, and then faster and faster. Hitherto he had executed the most complicated movements of the oars with perfect ease, but now they grew heavier and heavier in the stiffened hands, the benumbed arms. His breast grew more and more oppressed, his heart beat more and more painfully, his breathing changed to gasping, his throat seemed choked, his temples throbbed; come what would, he must rest a moment, take in the oars, and let the boat drift.

The little skiff instantly began to ship water; Gotthold had expected it. "It can't last much longer now," he said to himself, "and what does it matter? If you could live for her, it would be worth the trouble; but now--to whom do you die except yourself? Death cannot be so very painful. True, she will think: 'He tried to lose his life, and he might have spared me that.' It is very ungallant in me to drift ashore a disfigured corpse, very ungallant and very stupid; but it is all of a piece, and surely a man cannot pay for a folly more dearly than with his life."

Thoughts crowded still more confusedly upon his bewildered brain as, utterly exhausted, he sat bending forward, staring at the oars, which he still clenched mechanically in his stiffened fingers, and the reeling edge of the boat, which was now sharply relieved against the grayish-black sky, and then buried a foot deep under the foaming crest of a breaking wave. Then he saw all this only as a background, from which her face appeared in perfect distinctness, no longer with the mouth quivering with pain and the cold Medusa eyes, but transfigured by a merry roguish smile, as it had always arisen before his memory from the precious days of youth, and as he had seen it lately for one moment.

Suddenly an infinite sorrow seized upon him that he must give up life without having lived, without being loved by her; the life which, if he was only permitted to go on loving her, was an inexpressible happiness; the life which did not belong to him, which he owed to her, and for which, for her sake, he would struggle till his latest breath.

The stiffened fingers again closed firmly around the handles of the oars; the benumbed arms moved and parried with powerful strokes the onset of the rushing waves; the wearied eyes gazed once more over the foaming waters for some hope of deliverance, and a joyful shout escaped his laboring breast when, as if summoned by some spell, a sail emerged from the watery mist with which the air was filled. The next moment it came shooting forward, a large vessel, with her larboard side so low in the water, that Gotthold saw the whole keel from bow to stern, and above the high bulwark nothing was visible except the head of the steersman, whose snow-white hair fluttered in the wind, and the upper part of the body of a young man on the bowsprit, who held a coil of rope in his hand. And now, like a serpent, the line fell directly across his boat. He seized it and wound it around him. Then came a powerful jerk; his boat, filled almost to the water's edge, reeled to and fro, and sank under his feet; but his hands were already clinging to the side of the larger vessel; two strong arms seized him under the shoulders, and the next moment he fell at the feet of Cousin Boslaf, who held out his left hand to him, while with the right he turned his helm by a powerful effort, to save his own boat from being swamped.


The sea was still heaving after the thunder-storm of the afternoon, but the sun had cast a trembling light over the dark waves before it set. The stars now gradually appeared in the blackish-blue vault of the heavens; Gotthold raised his eyes to them, and then gazed into the quiet countenance of the old man, by whose side he was seated upon a bench, sheltered by the thick walls of the beach-house. Through the window beside them gleamed the light of the lamp, which, ever since Cousin Boslaf had lived in the beach-house, had burned there night after night, and would now continue to burn on, even after his eyes were closed in death. It was for this object that he had taken the journey to Sundin--the first since he returned from Sweden, sixty-five years ago, and probably the last he would ever make in his life. It had cost him an effort to give up his hermit habits for days, and mingle with mankind once more. But it must be done; he dared not ask whether the road would be hard or easy for him. So he had sailed away, accompanied by young Carl Peters, the son of his old friend, and for six long days presented himself at the Herr Präsident's every morning, and was always sent away because the Herr Präsident was too busy to see him, as the valet said, who finally roughly forbade him to come again, just at the moment the former left his study, and, seeing the old man, asked him kindly who he was, and what he wanted. Then Cousin Boslaf told the friendly gentleman that his name was Bogislaf Wenhof, and he had been very intimate with Malte von Krissowitz, whose portrait was hanging on the wall, and who, if he was not mistaken, was the Präsident's great-grandfather, and then told him his desire. Malte von Krissowitz was one of the six young men who had officiated as judges during the contest between Bogislaf and Adolf Wenhof; the Präsident, when a very young man, had heard the famous story from his father, who had it from his grandfather, to whom his great-grandfather had related it; it seemed to him like a fairy tale that the hero of that story should be still alive, and the very old man who was sitting on the sofa beside him. He called his wife and daughter, introduced them to the old man, and insisted that he should stay to dinner. Everybody was most kind and friendly, and--what was most important--the Präsident, when he bade him farewell, gave him his word of honor that the good cause for which he pleaded should henceforth be his own.

"Within a few days," said Cousin Boslaf, "a beacon will be erected here before the house, on a high foundation of stone, whose light can be seen a mile farther than that of my lamp. Carl Peters is appointed keeper, and will live with me in the beach-house, which for the present will serve as a watch-house, and after my death is to become the property of the government. So this great care is removed from my mind. I need say no longer, when I extinguish the lamp at daybreak: Will you be able to light it again this evening?"

The old man was silent; the Swedish banner flapped still more loudly upon the roof of the beach-house; the waves broke more heavily upon the rocky strand. Gotthold's eyes wandered with deep reverence over the figure at his side, the tall form of the silver-haired old man of ninety, whose heart still beat so warmly in his breast for all mankind--for the poor sailors whom he did not know, and who did not know him, of whom he knew nothing except that they were sailing yonder in the night, invisible even to his keen eyes, and so long as they saw the light kept away from the dangerous coast, as their fathers and grandfathers had taught them to do. The old man who lived only for others, whose whole existence was nothing but love for others, from whom he neither asked nor expected love or gratitude, had to-day risked his own life to save him, who scarcely desired to be saved, to whom life seemed valueless because he loved and was not beloved in return. What would the old man say to that? Would he, in the boundlessness of his unselfish love, even be able to understand such a selfish, egotistical passion?

"That was my one anxiety," Cousin Boslaf began again; "the government has relieved me of it; I have one other which no one can remove."

"Does it concern her--Cecilia?" asked Gotthold with a beating heart.

"Yes," said the old man, "it does concern her, Ulrica's great-grandchild, who looks so like her ancestress, but is probably even more unhappy. She should never have been allowed to marry the man, if I had had my way; but they threw my advice to the winds; they have always done so."

A strange, terrible change had come over the old man. His tall form was bent as if all strength had left it; his deep voice, so firm a few moments before, quivered and trembled, when after a short pause, which Gotthold did not venture to interrupt, he continued:

"They have always done so. And so they have lost their fields, one after another, and their forests, one after another, and become tenants where they were once masters, and gone to ruin, one after another. I have let it pass, been forced to let it pass, and always thought: Now matters can't be worse--but the worst was still in store for me. They were all reckless and frivolous; but none were wicked, not one, and after all they were men who, if need be, could live honestly by the labor of their hands. Now, now, even the old name will die out with me; only one poor helpless woman is left, who has exchanged her name for that of a man who is a good-for-nothing fellow like his forefathers; the worthless wretch will drag her down to shame with him--her shame and mine!"

The old man's last words were scarcely audible; for he had buried his wrinkled face in his knotty hands. Gotthold laid his hand on his knee.

"How can you talk so, Cousin Boslaf!" said he, "how can you accuse yourself of a misfortune you have been unable to prevent; you, who have always been the good genius of the house!"

"The good genius of the house--great God!"

The old man started up and strode hastily to the shore, where he stood with his face turned towards the sea; his white hair fluttered in the wind; he raised his arms towards the dark waters, and then let them fall again, muttering unintelligible words. Gotthold still kept by his side; had the old man become childish, or had he gone mad?

"What is the matter, Cousin Boslaf?" he asked.

"Cousin Boslaf!" shrieked the old man, "ay, Cousin Boslaf! He called me so, and she too, and all the rest with them and after them, my children, and children's children!"

"Cousin Boslaf!"

"Always Cousin Boslaf! Yes, it is quite right, and will be placed on my gravestone. I have sworn that no human being should ever hear the tale, but I can bear it no longer. One man shall learn the crime we committed against mankind, that he may forgive us our sin in the name of mankind. I have always loved you, and to-day I saved your life, so you shall be the man."

He led Gotthold back to the bench.

"You have probably heard of the contest I had with my Cousin Adolf about Dollan?"

"Yes," replied Gotthold, "and have thought of it all very recently as I came to visit you, and in the depths of my heart praised the rare magnanimity with which you resigned the rich estate and beloved maiden to your cousin, after you learned that he was preferred by her. Emma von Dahlitz, Ulrica's confidante, brought you this message the evening before the decisive day; was it not so?"

"Yes," said Cousin Boslaf, "only the message was false, and she who brought it lied, out of love--as she afterwards wrote me on her death--bed a few years after, when I was in Sweden--out of love for me, whom she hoped to win herself. The unhappy girl had also confessed this to Ulrica, who, like me, had believed her lies, and that I had mocked and jeered at her, and said I would rather have a Lapland woman for my wife. Well, I had wooed no Laplander; but the unfortunate maiden had become Adolf's wife, and so, as Adolf's wife and the mother of two children, I found her when I returned. A third child--also a boy--was born a year after. The two older ones died in early youth; the third lived and remained the only child, and this boy was--my son!"

"Poor, poor man," murmured Gotthold.

"Ay indeed, poor man!" said old Boslaf, "for who is poorer than a man who cannot rejoice over his own child, dares not call his before all the world, what is his if anything in the world is. I dared not. Ulrica was proud; she would rather have died ten deaths than taken upon herself the shame of the violation of her marriage vow; and I was cowardly, cowardly out of love for her and him--my poor, good, unsuspicious Adolf, whom from childhood I had loved like a brother, who believed in me wholly and entirely, who would have asserted against the whole world that I was his best, most faithful friend. So a few terrible years passed away; Ulrica, exhausted by the fearful conflict between duty and love she dared not acknowledge, died; holding her cold hands, I was forced to swear that I would keep the secret. So I have been and still remain Cousin Boslaf to my child and grandchildren. They have given me a little higher place in their affections than an old servant whom people will not dismiss, tiresome as he often is; they have also let me talk when they were in a good humor; and if a child was born, old Cousin Boslaf was allowed to sit at the lower end of the table at the christening festival, or when one of them was borne to the churchyard in Rammin he was suffered to ride in the last coach, if there was a vacant seat. I have borne it all: bitternesses without number or measure; I have believed that by humility, by love towards others, I might atone for the crime I had committed against my own flesh and blood; but the curse has not been removed from me: 'I have never yet seen the righteous forsaken, nor his seed begging their bread.' I have been no righteous man; my seed will be forced to beg their bread; I have grown so old only that I might live to see it."

"Never, never!" exclaimed Gotthold starting up; "never!"

"What will you do?" said the old man, "lend him money! What becomes of the water you take in your hand? What becomes of the money loaned to a gambler? I brought him one evening the savings of sixty years; it was no inconsiderable sum, the farm-rent of my few fields and meadows at interest and compound interest; the next morning he had not a shilling of it left. You told me just now that you were a rich man, perhaps you can give him more. He will take as much as he can get, and the moment he can obtain no more, show you the door and forbid you his house, as he did me. He knew very well I would not accuse him, that I could not; I had not required a written proof that I had given my great-granddaughter what I had."

"And Cecilia?"

"She is the true child of her ancestors; too proud to do anything but shed secret tears over the misery which has come upon her. I know those tears of old; they give the eyes which shed them at night upon lonely pillows, the fixed sad expression with which she has looked at me, whenever I have met her since--it has not been often. Where are you going so fast?"

Gotthold had started up.

"I have been here a long time already--too long."

"Is she expecting you, Gotthold?"

The old man had laid his hand upon his shoulder; Gotthold noticed how steadily the keen eyes rested upon him.

"No," he said, "I do not think she is."

"And it is better so," replied the old man. "It is enough for one to experience what I have done. When, shall I see you again?"

"I intended to go away early to-morrow morning, but I will come here from Prora."

"That's right; my child is unhappy enough now; the sooner you go the better it will be."


"The better it will be," repeated Gotthold, as he strode through the dark forest. For whom--for me? My fate is decided. For her? What is it to her whether I come or go? For him? If he only wanted my money and not me, why didn't he say so long ago? I have offered it to him often enough--perhaps not plainly enough; I could not make up my mind to speak more distinctly; it seemed like trying to buy the husband's permission to remain near the wife. Why has he not wanted it? Doesn't he believe in my sincerity? Is he too proud to take it from _me_? And yet who should give to him more willingly than I? It is the only thing I can do for her. Perhaps that is all they need to make them perfectly happy; perhaps his love is of the kind that only thrives in the sunlight of prosperity, and languishes sadly in the mists of care. We will succor this feeble love. That will bring the roses back to her cheeks, and she will laugh happily again as she used to do in the old days.

I play no very brilliant part in the family drama; but when was the rôle of third person conspicuous or grateful? Poor, poor old man! What must he not have suffered! What must he not suffer still! But he was not guiltless, no, not guiltless! Only falsehood is sin, not truth. The marriage bond between Adolf Wenhof and Ulrica von Dahlitz, as it was brought about by a lie, was and remained a lie. She loved another, and this other came; she saw that he loved her still as he had always loved her; in an hour of intoxication, after so many years of torture, she became his; she was his wife before her own conscience; she ought also to have become so in the sight of man. It was a twofold, threefold, thousandfold lie that she did not do so, that she did not break off the old life and suffer a new one to begin that very hour! In consequence of this lie, she, the proud, beautiful woman, sank into an early grave! He has vainly sought through all these endless years to atone for his crime--the crime of having thrust truth from his threshold and permitted falsehood to cross it! Holy genius of mankind, thou who livest in the light of truth, save me from the greatest of all sins; save me from falsehood!

A dark figure came hastily across the glade near the edge of the forest, through which the path ran. When it approached a little nearer, Gotthold recognized old Statthalter Möller, who now raised both arms, exclaiming:

"Thank God, here you are! You've given us a fine fright!"

"I? Whom? How?"

"You, to be sure, you! And whom? All of us, up to our mistress, who is perfectly beside herself! How? Well, that's a pretty question! When a man rows out to sea in such a nutshell of a boat, with a horrible thunderstorm rising, and that old blockhead of a Christian sees it, and thinks: Well, I'm curious to see how he gets back; but isn't at all curious, goes into the forest, and waits till the storm is over, and then about half an hour ago sends his boy to say: the boat hasn't come back yet, and may not some accident have happened to the gentleman? Lord, there was a pretty piece of business then! And our mistress must have been very much frightened, for she came running out at once, and started us off. The mistress is not to be trifled with when she is in earnest, kind as she is; and we all got frightened too, and some have gone down to Ralow, thinking you might have been driven in there; and some to Neuhof, and I was just going to the beach-house to ask the old gentleman, who has probably come back to-day, what we should do next. The mistress wanted to go herself, but I wouldn't let her."

"Where is the mistress?"

"She is probably still in the field," said Möller, pointing to the left; "I have just left her."

"And how long have the others been gone?"

"As long as I have; if I hurry, I shall probably overtake them."

Statthalter Möller struck into the forest on the right, shouting the names of the laborers, while Gotthold hastily walked on by the path, which in a few moments brought him to the edge of the forest, where an old beech-tree stood alone in the open field, upon which the moon shed a dim, fitful light through the rifts in the heavy black clouds. It was the rye-field, which they had been reaping that day. A loaded wagon was just starting, and men were still working around a few others, but, as it seemed to Gotthold, rather lazily; he heard the voices of the men raised in eager conversation, and saw that they were standing in little groups between the sheaves, several rows of which extended along the edge of the forest. The thought that such important work had been interrupted or carried on less zealously on his account was unpleasant to Gotthold, and he hurried towards the workmen. He had not perceived Cecilia, although he could see the whole field with tolerable distinctness; she had probably gone back to the house again.

But as he approached the beech-tree, a white figure which had been sitting with its face buried in its hands, and was now startled by his hasty steps, rose from the circular bench that surrounded the huge trunk.

"In Heaven's name, Möller, have you returned already? Is he--"

"It is I myself; Cecilia, dear, dearest Cecilia!"


She had thrown herself into his arms; he held the pliant figure which clung closer and closer to him in an ardent embrace; her soft lips quivered against his in a long, tremulous, passionate kiss.

"Is that you?" said Carl Brandow's voice suddenly, close beside them.

It seemed as if he had sprung from the earth; doubtless the sheaves, the last of which stood partly under the ends of the drooping boughs of the beech-tree, had concealed his approach, but in the shadow of its foliage probably nothing but Cecilia's light dress had been visible to the new-comer. Yet, in Gotthold's sensitive mood, the man's loud laugh had a horrible sound, and his clear voice a disagreeably shrill tone never heard before, as, flourishing his riding-whip in the air, according to his custom, he cried: "I have heard all; I always say: Don't turn your back, something always happens which wouldn't have occurred otherwise. I shouldn't have let you go on such a wild-goose chase, any more than I would have commenced reaping at the end next the barn. What will become of this stuff if it should begin to rain again, as there is every appearance of its doing, and rain all day to-morrow? In that case we can take it to the manure heap, instead of the barn; nobody will come here with a wagon for a week, and it will have sprouted long before then."

"It isn't so bad after all, sir," said Statthalter Möller, who had just come up with the men he had overtaken in the forest. "We haven't any more room in the barn; we'll put up a cover here, and then it will be all right."

"Of course, you always know better than I!" exclaimed Brandow.

"I wanted to begin by the barn; but Hinrich Scheel wouldn't allow it, and said you yourself--"

"Oh! of course I did it myself; I'm always to blame when you idiots have done anything stupid!"

It was not the first time that Gotthold had heard Carl Brandow scold his workmen in this way; but never had the cause been so frivolous, and the wrong so clearly on his own side. Gotthold had himself heard him, as he rode away that morning, call to Hinrich Scheel that they were to begin the reaping at the upper end of the field by the forest. Was he drunk? Had he seen more than he wished to have known? Did he want to wreak his jealous fury on the innocent workmen? Or was this merely the preamble, and a test to see whether, in the explanation which must take place immediately, he would adopt the tone of an injured, insulted man?

Gotthold did not fear this explanation; his only dread was that it might take place in Cecilia's presence. He wished his loved one to be away, and moreover he felt the necessity of hearing one word from her to assure him that all this was no confused dream, but reality; that in the kiss which still trembled on his lips she had given herself to him, that he might venture to act, decide for her.

But the fear of provoking an outbreak from Brandow made him timid and awkward; she shrank away, actuated by the same feeling; and he did not succeed in carrying out his intention on the way home. Brandow walked between them; he was obliged to relate his adventure, and Brandow railed at Cousin Boslaf, who was always everywhere, from whom one wasn't safe even when on the water, and who had undoubtedly arranged the whole scene, including the thunder-storm and all its appurtenances, in order to be able to save something again. Under other circumstances Gotthold would not have allowed such sarcasms, which Brandow accompanied with sneering laughter, to pass unanswered; but now he must be suffered to say what he chose. Then the latter clapped him on the shoulder, crying: "No offence, Gotthold; but I can't bear the old sneak, and have my own reasons for it. Either a man is master of his house, or he isn't; to have a third party, who is always interfering everywhere, and of course always thinks he knows best, would not do, at least not for me. As we used to say at school, 'One king, one ruler!' You probably remember the Greek words too; I, poor devil, am glad I happened to keep the German ones."

They reached the house. Gotthold could not shake off Brandow, who detained him before the door in conversation about some agricultural matter, while Cecilia entered. Hinrich Scheel came up and complained of the Statthalter, who had ordered even the carriage-horses to be harnessed to the wagons. Brandow flew into a furious passion; Gotthold murmured something about being obliged to change his clothes, and slipped into the house. But he found no one in the sitting-room except pretty Rieke, who was setting the tea-table, and looked roguishly at him out of the corners of her eyes while he glanced over the newspaper which lay on the table before the sofa. The girl went out, but came back immediately, and pretended to be doing something in the closet; she evidently intended to remain in the room. Gotthold now went up to his chamber, and changed his clothes, which had been only partially dried in the beach-house. As he performed the task, his trembling hands almost refused to obey his bidding. Was it the fever of impatience before the final decision, or was it actual sickness, brought on by over-exertion during the storm? "Don't be sick now," he murmured; "now of all times! Now, when you no longer belong to yourself, when you owe your life, your every breath, your every drop of blood to her!"

Brandow's voice echoed from the lower floor in loud, angry tones. Was he talking to Cecilia? Had the rage, perhaps repressed with difficulty till now, burst forth? Was the drama to be played before the servants?

In the twinkling of an eye Gotthold had left his room, crossed the long dark entry, and gone down-stairs. But fortunately his fear had been groundless. Cecilia had sent word that she felt tired, and should not come to supper. Then why couldn't they have set the table in his room on the other side of the hall, where they would be undisturbed and disturb no one? Would Rieke never have any sense? Rieke answered pertly, as she reluctantly obeyed the command, that she wished other people's sense was as good as hers; who was to know what to do when one order was given one minute, and another the next! Brandow told her to be silent. The girl laughed scornfully: Oh! of course it was very convenient to forbid people to open their mouths, but it wouldn't do in the long run, and if she wanted to speak she would speak, and then other people would have to hold their tongues.

"Leave the room," shouted Brandow furiously.

The girl answered with a still more impudent laugh, and then left the apartment, banging the door after her.

"That's what one gets for being too indulgent," cried Brandow, swallowing at a single gulp a glass of wine which he had poured out with an unsteady hand.

He cast a sly glance at Gotthold, who looked him steadily in the face. What did this scene mean? What could the girl tell, if she chose to speak? Had she claims upon her master which he was obliged to acknowledge? Had a weapon unexpectedly fallen into his hands which might be of use to him in this hour? An ignoble weapon indeed; but perhaps not too much so for a conflict with a man who, while the husband of such a wife, did not disdain the servant.

Yet Gotthold said to himself that he would not begin the quarrel, but, if possible, defer it until he had come to some understanding with Cecilia about the next step to be taken. And it seemed possible; nay, Gotthold soon became doubtful whether Brandow at most had anything more than a vague suspicion, to which he either could not or dared not give expression. Perhaps he wished to increase his courage by drink, for he now drained glass after glass, and brought one bottle of old wine after another from his sleeping-room; perhaps he wanted to give vent to his powerless anger, in some degree at least, when he railed at Cousin Boslaf, the old sneak who had perfectly disgusted him with life by his perpetual interference, until he at last forbade him the house; and then spoke once more of his miserable circumstances, as he called them, for which, however, he was less to blame than some other people.

"True," he exclaimed, "I have spent more on my journeys than tailors and glove-makers do; I have lived in a manner befitting a gentleman, but the principal cause of my disgraceful situation is my marriage. Of course you look incredulous; you would like, as an old ally of the Wenhofs, to contradict me; it would be useless; I know too well how all this has come about. I will say nothing about the noble Curt--the few college debts I was obliged to pay for him were a mere bagatelle; but the old man, who was by no means so old as not to have a damned good relish for the pleasant things of this world--the old man was not a particularly desirable father-in-law. I even had to pay for the wedding outfit, but--good heavens--at such a time a man would bring the stars from the sky to adorn his beloved; so I wouldn't have minded advancing the money for the few trinkets and other things, if that had been the end of it. But unfortunately that was not the case. I gave my father-in-law ten thousand thalers in cash during the two years he lived, and was obliged to pay at least as much in debts after his death. That's a pretty good bit of money, _mon cher_, when a man has no more than enough for himself; and so my beautiful Dahlitz went to the devil, and I was glad to be able to creep into Dollan for shelter, and some day Dollan will go to the devil too; for a man can't keep the best farm in the world nowadays, unless he has property of his own, and the prudent Brothers of the Convent of St. Jurgen have kept me as short as my father-in-law, who could never get the better of them. But what am I thinking of, to be entertaining such a distinguished gentleman with this rubbish! You can't help me, and if you could, a man doesn't allow himself to be helped by his good friends--he applies to his good enemies."

Brandow laughed loudly, and starting up, paced hastily up and down the room with an agitated air, and at last stopped before the closet containing his weapons, pulled a pistol from its nail, cocked it, and turning towards Gotthold, cried:

"Only, unfortunately, the good friends are often the same as the good enemies, so that one can't separate them. Don't you think so!"

"It may happen so," said Gotthold quietly; "but you would do better to hang up the pistol again; your hand is too unsteady for such tricks to-night; some accident might occur."

Gotthold was determined not to enter upon an explanation with the half-intoxicated man this evening, under any circumstances; and equally determined not to yield to his threats, if this was intended for one, and permit the ransom money to be extorted, which he must pay if he wished to leave the place without any further difficulty.

The expression of calm decision upon the grave countenance of his guest had not escaped Brandow; he let the half-raised weapon fall, laid it aside, came back to the table, threw himself into his chair, and said:

"You are right! Some accident might happen; but no one would care, and, after all, it would only be consistent if I should put a bullet through my brain. You are a lucky fellow. You have been obliged to work from your early youth, and so have learned a great deal; now a great fortune, more than you can use, comes to you without the least trouble. I have never worked, have learned nothing, and I lose a property without which I am nothing, less than nothing: the jest of all who have known me, a scarecrow to the gay birds I have hitherto equalled or excelled, and who now leave the poor plucked crow to his fate. Death and the devil!"

He dashed his glass down upon the table so violently that it broke.

"Oh, pshaw! the matter is not worth getting into a passion about. Everything must have an end, and however they may jeer at me, nobody can say I have not enjoyed life. I have drunk the best wine, ridden the fastest horses, and kissed the prettiest women. You are a connoisseur too, Gotthold; you have done just the same in your quiet way, of course. Yes, you were always a sly-boots, and I had a cursed respect for your cunning, even in our school-days. Well, no offence; I am not very stupid, and clever people, like you and me, always get along together; it's only dunces who quarrel--dunces, silly boys, as we were then. Do you remember? Tierce, quart, quart, tierce! Ha! ha! ha! That wouldn't suit us now. Touch glasses, old boy, and drink! Drink to good fellowship!"

And he held out his brimming glass.

"My glass is empty," said Gotthold; "and so is the bottle. Let us go to bed; we have drunk more than enough."

He left the room before Brandow, who was staring at him with eyeballs starting from his head, could reply.

As the door closed behind him, Brandow made a spring like that of a wild beast after its prey, and then paused in the middle of the room, showing his white teeth, and shaking his clenched fists at the door.

"Cursed scoundrel! I'll have your blood, drop by drop; but first I'll have your money!"

His uplifted arms fell; he tottered to the table, and sat there supporting his burning head in his hands, gnawing his lips with his sharp teeth till the blood sprang through the skin, mentally heaping crime upon crime, but none would lead him to his goal. Suddenly he started up and a hoarse laugh burst forth. So it should be! She, she herself must ask him, and that was the way to force her to do so! Vengeance, full vengeance, and no danger, except that the servant might chatter! She had already threatened to do so several times, and to-day had been more impudent than ever; but all must be accomplished to-morrow, and to-night was available for many things.

That night--he did not know how late it was, for he had lain there fully dressed, with throbbing temples, awake, and yet as if in some wild dream, falling from the heights of more than earthly bliss into the depths of helpless anxiety and dread--that very night Gotthold heard above the rustling of the foliage before his window, and the plashing of the rain against the panes, a sound which made him start from his bed, and, holding his breath, listen intently. The noise was like a scream, a woman's scream, and could only have come from the chamber below him, where Cecilia slept alone with her child. He reached the window at a single bound. The wind and rain beat into his face, but above the wind and rain he distinctly heard Brandow's voice, now louder and now lower, as a man speaks who is carried away by passion, and then violently forces himself to be calm. At intervals he thought he distinguished her voice; but perhaps it was only his fancy, excited to madness, which filled the pauses in which he did not hear the voice of the man he hated. A conjugal scene in the chamber of the wife, who cannot, must not lock her door; who must hear the wild words of the furious drunken husband, and has nothing to oppose to his fury save her tears!

"And she bears it, must bear it! Must wring her hands helplessly! This is bitterer than death!" 'murmured Gotthold. "Why didn't I speak? All might now have been decided! Is not keeping silence when one ought to speak also a lie, a cruel, horrible lie, and must falsehood be spoken by the good as well as the bad? To-morrow, if to-morrow were only here, if such a night can have a morrow."

He threw himself on his bed, moaning and sobbing, and buried his head in the pillows, then started up again. Was not that a step moving slowly and cautiously over the floor? Was any one coming to him with a murderous weapon? Thank God!

Gotthold sprang to the door and tore it open. Everything was silent--silent and dark. The stairs from below led directly up the middle of the entry, between the two gables; the cautious step he had heard was not on his side, and had undoubtedly gone towards the other, where, opposite to his room, were two smaller chambers, one of which, on the left, stood empty, and the other was occupied by pretty Rieke; for a faint light, which was quickly extinguished, now gleamed through a crack in the door of the right-hand room, and through the deep stillness came a laugh, instantly hushed, as if a hand had been suddenly placed over the laughing lips.

Gotthold shut the door; he wished to see and hear no more.


A gray dreary morning followed the dark rainy night. Endless masses of vapor, now and then piled into thick clouds, rolled in from the sea,--masses so deep that they almost covered the lofty tops of the poplars, which now bent before the rude wind over the drenched straw roofs of the barns, and then rebounded defiantly, shaking their branches indignantly.

Gotthold stood at the window of the sitting room, gazing gloomily at the dreary scene. He had slept an hour towards morning, almost against his will; but anxiety for what might be coming weighed upon his soul more heavily than physical exhaustion upon his body. Terrible as the night had been, stars of hope ever and anon had sparkled cheeringly through the darkness; now it seemed as if this dreary day had only dawned to say: This solitary, hideous drifting is life, reality; what have I to do with your dreams? As he came down the staircase, he had seen almost with an emotion of horror that preparations for the reception of guests were being made in the large hall looking out upon the garden, which was generally unused; the clattering of pots and pans, and the loud voices of maid-servants came from the kitchen at the end of the long hall; and a groom was just pushing from the stable the carriage which was to bring the guests from Prora. Everything was going on as usual, as if to-day would be like yesterday, and to-morrow like to day; as if nothing could happen which would make the old world young again as it was on the first day that dawned on Paradise. And yet, and yet, it surely was no dream; it had certainly happened. It could not blow away like formless mist! It must assume some shape, emerge from the chaos, perhaps be worked out by a hot conflict; it was all the same! Only it could not be lost!

But this dreary inactive waiting was terrible! She must know that he had been standing here half an hour already, waiting for her, for one word from her lips, even one look, to say to him: I am yours, as you are mine; trust me as I trust you. Why did she not come? The moment was more favorable than any which might occur again all day. Brandow had just crossed the courtyard to the stables, as he did every morning; the breakfast was on the table; they had always spent half an hour together at this time undisturbed--and to-day, to-day she must needs leave him alone!

A boundless impatience took possession of him; he paced up and down the room, glancing every moment towards the door through which that other had come and gone last night, and which was closed upon him, listening with straining ears that he might distinguish some sound, but heard nothing except the sleepy buzzing of a fly; even the house clock in the tall old-fashioned wooden case did not tick to-day; the hands had stopped during the night.

He pressed his hands to his beating temples; it seemed as if he should go mad if this torture did not cease, and then a thought occurred to him more terrible than all the rest. Was she afraid of him? Did shame withhold her from appearing before the eyes of him against whose heart her own had throbbed yesterday, whose kiss she had received and answered? No, no, a thousand times no! Whatever kept her from him, it was not that, not that! It was a crime against her proud nature even to think it! She might die, but not live to be dishonorable. Perhaps she was ill, very ill, helpless, alone--ah! that was Gretchen's voice: "Mamma, I want to go with you; I want to go with you to Uncle Gotthold. I want to bid Uncle Gotthold 'good morning!'" and then low soothing tones, then the door opened and she entered.

Gotthold rushed toward her, but only a few steps. She had raised both hands with a gesture of the most imploring entreaty, and the most imploring entreaty looked forth from the large tearful eyes, and pure pale face. So she approached, so she stood before him, and then almost inaudible words fell from her quivering lips.

"Will you forgive me, Gotthold!"

He could not answer; gesture, expression, words--all told him that his haunting fear had become reality; that in one way or another all was lost.

A fierce anguish overpowered him, and then anger arose in his heart; he laughed aloud!

"So this is all the courage you have!"

Her arms fell, her lips closed, her features quivered convulsively, and her whole frame trembled.

"No, Gotthold, not all. But I thank you for being angry; or it might have been impossible for me to perform my task. No, don't look at me so; don't look at me so. Laugh as you laughed just now! What can a man do but laugh, when a woman by whom he believes himself beloved comes and says--"

"You need not," cried Gotthold; "you need not; a man does not comprehend such things, but he feels them without words."

He turned towards the door.


There was despair in the tone; the young man's hand fell from the latch.

"Can it be, Cecilia? I have frightened you by my vehemence; but it shall not happen again. Only say one word--tell me you love me, and I will bear all; everything else is a matter of indifference to me; we must and shall see some way of escape; but you cannot let me go so, not so, I implore you!"

But he searched her face for some token of assent in vain. Her features seemed set in a horrible smile.

"No," she said, "not so: not before you have promised that you will save my husband, whom I love and honor; from whom I cannot, will not part."

She uttered the words slowly, in a monotonous tone, like something learned by rote, and now paused like a scholar who has forgotten her lesson.

"What does this farce mean?" said Gotthold.

The door of the sleeping-room opened, Gretchen put her curly head in, and then came bounding towards her mother. Cecilia clasped the child passionately in her arms, and hastily continued, while a feverish flush replaced her former death-like pallor: "Save him from the bankruptcy into which he will fall, if you do not help him. The matter concerns--concerns--"

She released Gretchen, and pressed both hands upon her brow.

"Mamma, mamma," screamed the little one, beginning to cry aloud, as Gotthold supported the tottering figure to the nearest chair.

"What is the matter with my wife?" asked Brandow.

Gotthold had not heard him enter. At the first sound of his voice Cecilia raised herself from his arms, and stood erect between the two men, without support, clasping the child to her heart, pale as death, but with an expression of sorrowful resolution; and there was a strange, unvarying firmness in the tone of her voice, as, fixing her eyes upon her husband, she said:

"He knows, and will do it."

And then turning to Gotthold:

"You will do it for the sake of our old friendship, Gotthold, will you not? And farewell, Gotthold; we shall not see each other again."

She held out an icy hand to him, took Gretchen in her arms, and left the room without looking back, while the child stretched out its little hands over her shoulder, calling, "Bring me something pretty to-day, uncle Gotthold. Do you hear, uncle Gotthold?"


"If women only wouldn't take everything tragically," said Brandow; "it's really a pity. First she proposed it herself, and now--but we mustn't expect the dear creatures to be consistent."

"And what do you require of me?" asked Gotthold.

He had seated himself at the table, while Brandow strode restlessly up and down the room, pretending to busy himself in doing first one thing and then another.

"Require! How you talk! Require! If I had had anything to require of you I shouldn't have been silent so long; but I think my wife has told you all, or did she--"

"She has told me everything except the amount."

"Except the amount? Capital! capital!--so exactly like a woman! Except the amount! Of course there's no occasion to lay any stress upon such secondary considerations."

And Brandow essayed a laugh which sounded rather hoarse.

"Short and good."

"Short, for aught I care, and good. Well, I hope you'll take it so. I want twenty-five thousand thalers."


"That's the devil of it. Ten thousand, which I owe the trustees of the convent for arrears of rent, are to be paid to-morrow to the convent treasurer at Sundin; but Sellien, if he comes to-day, would take the money back with him; of course, however, that is only a favor on his part, and would be a convenience on mine--there's no obligation; so to-morrow morning will be time enough for that. The rest--I mean the fifteen thousand--is a debt of honor, which must be paid this evening, if I don't wish to lose Brownlock and my wheat harvest, which I pledged. Between ourselves, they really had designs only upon Brownlock. They, that is, the two Plüggens and Redebas, who fairly pressed me for the money, and then fixed to-day as the last limit of time for payment, because they knew what a strait I am in about my arrears of rent, and hoped, under any circumstances, I should be unable to pay, and then they would have Brownlock. The sneaks, the swindlers! Brownlock, that is worth twice as much as the whole amount--Brownlock, a horse on which I already have fifteen thousand in my betting-book, and which will bring me in thirty thousand as sure as my name is Carl Brandow."

He acted as if he had talked himself into a rage, and lashed the air and the tops of his boots with his riding-whip, while his crafty eyes rested steadily upon Gotthold, who still sat motionless at the table, resting his head on his hand.

"And I am to procure the money for you? How did you arrange that?"

"My plan was something of this kind: my wife told me you wished to leave us to-day; of course I am prodigiously sorry; but you have your reasons, which I respect, although I don't know them; and you will perhaps make use of the carriage I am just going to send to Prora for the Selliens. I'll let Hinrich Scheel, on whom I can depend implicitly, go with you; and Hinrich could then bring back the fifteen thousand with which I must feed my dear guests. You need not pay the money at all; that blameless usurer, your worthy Wollnow, might not count it out. The ten thousand for Sellien can remain there: he can take it himself to-morrow morning, when he will be obliged to pass through Prora again. Just write me a line, or even tell Hinrich that the money will be ready for him at Wollnow's on receipt of my order. Then he could leave the acquittance here, or give it to Wollnow, from whom I can get it whenever I have an opportunity, and the affair is settled."

"And suppose Wollnow won't give me the money?"

"Won't give it to you? Why, you have fifty thousand in his business."

"Not a groschen more than ten."

"But Semmel assured me--"

"Semmel is mistaken."

Brandow had paused, with his riding-whip uplifted. Was the man trying to drive a bargain? A paltry ten thousand? Did he expect to get off with that?

A scornful smile flitted over his sharp face, which was unusually pale to-day, and the riding-whip whizzed through the air.

"Oh, pshaw, you have credit for fifty thousand. Credit is money, as nobody knows better than I, who have lived on it so long. But do as you choose! I don't plead for myself--I'm made of hard wood, and shall survive the storm. I am sorry for poor Cecilia, though. She reckoned so confidently upon your friendship; persuaded me so urgently to confide in you."

Gotthold had been compelled to exert all his strength in order to control himself during this horrible scene, and not show his antagonist how terribly he was suffering. Suddenly a mist crept over his eyes, a roaring sound was in his ears, it seemed as if he was lying on the ground, and Brandow, who stood over him, was just raising his arm for a second blow. Then, with a violent effort, he shook off the faintness that threatened to overpower him, and said, rising:

"That is right. Cecilia shall not have reckoned upon my friendship in vain; take care that you don't make a mistake yourself."

Brandow had involuntarily recoiled a few paces, startled by Gotthold's ghastly face. He tried to answer with a jest to the effect that he was not in the habit of being mistaken where his debts were concerned; but Gotthold cut short the sentence with a contemptuous "Enough!" and left the room to pack his clothes.

Fifteen minutes after, the carriage driven by Hinrich Scheel rolled away through the misty morning across the moor, on the way to Prora.


Coffee had just been served in Frau Wollnow's pleasant little balcony room in the second story. The gentlemen had gone down-stairs to smoke a cigar in the office, but the ladies were still sitting at the table, from which the pretty young servant-girl was removing the dishes. The three children, who could not become accustomed to the altered arrangements of the household--coffee was generally served in the sitting-room below--romped noisily around, to Frau Wollnow's great amusement, while Alma Sellien smoothed a frown of displeasure from her white forehead with her soft dainty hand.

"Couldn't you send the children away now?"

"The children!" said Frau Wollnow, casting an astonished glance from her round brown eyes at her brown-eyed darlings.

"I'm always a little nervous in the morning; and to-day must be doubly cautious, as I have a country excursion in prospect."

"Pardon me, dear Alma; I forgot you were not accustomed to the noise. It is not always so bad; but since Stine left me day before yesterday--dear me, I can't blame her; the good old thing wants to get married, and to a young man who might almost be her son, so she certainly has no time to lose. She has gone back to her parents. The wedding will take place in a fortnight. It was hard enough for her to leave the children--"

"You were going to send the children away, dear!"

The children were sent away. Alma Sellien leaned back in the corner of the sofa exhausted, and said, closing her soft blue eyes as it half asleep: "I am sure this will be another disappointment."

"What, dear Alma?" asked Frau Wollnow, whose thoughts were still with her children.

"My husband is so terribly enthusiastic about him; he's always enthusiastic about men I afterwards think horrible."

"You will be mistaken this time," cried Frau Wollnow, who, engrossed in this interesting subject, even failed to hear her youngest child crying upon the stairs; "your husband has said too little rather than too much. He is not only a handsome man--which, for my part, I consider of very little consequence--tall, and of an extremely elegant, graceful bearing, which harmonizes most admirably with the gentle, yet resolute expression of his features, the mild, yet steady gaze of his large deep-blue eyes, and even the soft, but sonorous tone of his voice."

"You are surely turning poetess," said Alma.

Ottilie Wollnow blushed to the roots of the curly bluish-black hair on her temples.

"I don't deny that I am very, very--"

"Much in love with him," said Alma, completing the sentence.

"Why yes, if you choose to say so; that is, as I love everything good and beautiful."

"An excellent theory, which I profess myself, only unfortunately in practice we must always be withheld by the opposition of our husbands. Yours did not seem to be quite so much delighted with your protégé."

"My good Emil!" said Frau Wollnow, "we don't agree in a great many things, and, dear me, it is certainly no wonder; he has been obliged to work so hard all his life, that it has made him a little grave and pedantic; but he is a thoroughly good man, and in this case you are entirely mistaken; at heart he is even more interested in Gotthold than I, or, if that is saying too much, quite as much so."

"It did not seem so."

"But it was only seeming. He is afraid of compromising his dignity if he talks as he really feels. I have found that all people who have had a sorrowful youth are so. Even the heart, so to speak, needs to have had its dancing lessons, and when it has had none, when it has always been compelled to beat under the pressure of straitened, gloomy surroundings, as in my poor Emil's case, people never overcome it all their lives. But what I was going to say is, that this time there is a special reason for it. My good Emil certainly never told even me--dear, kind man, as if I would have taken it amiss--that thirty or thirty-five years ago he was once very deeply in love with Gotthold's mother, when they lived in the same house in Stettin--it is a long and very romantic story."

"Oh! oh!" said Alma, "who would ever have given your husband credit for that?"

"Why," cried Ottilie, "you are entirely mistaken in Emil; his nature has a freshness, a power, a youthful fire--"

"How happy you are!" said Alma with a faint sigh.

"I hope you are no less so; but I wanted to explain why Emil always becomes so quiet when the conversation turns upon Gotthold. That is the reason of it, and then he has taken it into his head that this visit to the Brandows must turn out unlucky for him--Gotthold. You know Gotthold used to be in love with Cecilia; nay, between ourselves, I am sure he loves her still. But now, tell me yourself: can you see any great misfortune in that?"

"Not at all; I only think it rather improbable; you know I have never been able to share your enthusiasm about Cecilia, and don't see why all the men are to be in love with her. Her husband evidently isn't; at least I know a lady to whom he devotes himself whenever he meets her, in a way that proves his heart is not very strongly engaged in any other quarter."

"If he has one. Forgive me, dear Alma, you are a prudent woman, and I am sure you love your husband; but Brandow is really an extremely dangerous man. Possessed of the most attractive manners, when he chooses to adopt them; always lively and humorous, even witty, yet sensible when the occasion requires him to be so; and moreover bold, fearless, an acknowledged master of all chivalrous arts--and such things always impose upon us women--in a word, a dangerous man. Good Heavens, would it have been possible, under any other circumstances, to understand how the aristocratic, poetic Cecilia could have fallen in love with him! But what does all this avail without true love, and I do not believe Carl Brandow is capable of the feeling. Now let a man such as I have described Gotthold to be, enter the home of such a couple,--a man, moreover, who has scarcely conquered a boyish love for the wife,--indeed, if one reflects upon it, one can hardly blame my husband: such passionate natures, and in the loneliness of country life,--it really seems as if scales had fallen from my eyes. And Gotthold has not written a word all this week! Still waters run deep, but may not deep waters perhaps be still? And I have actually been the cause of it by my unlucky mania for pictures!"

"I think I can set your mind at rest, so far as that goes," said Alma. "I have found that men always have some reason for doing what they wish; if it isn't one thing, it's another. And then this evening, or to-morrow morning at latest, if we spend the night at Dollan, I can bring you the very latest and most exact news about all these interesting complications. I only fear they will prove less interesting than you expect."

"Lucky Alma!" said Ottilie sighing; "how much I should like to go with you. But my husband would never allow it."

"'Allow' is a word a husband should never be permitted to use to his wife," said Alma, as she slipped her wedding-ring up and down her slender finger.

The conversation between the two ladies was interrupted by Assessor Sellien, who hastily entered the room.

"Why," said his wife, "have you come back already? Is the carriage here? I haven't put on my travelling-dress yet."

"The carriage is not here," said the Assessor as he seated himself between the two ladies, and raised his wife's hand, which hung loosely over the back of the sofa, to his lips; "I only came to ask whether you would not prefer to stay here."

"Stay here!" said Alma, hastily starting from her lounging attitude in the sofa corner. "What has got into your head, Hugo?"

"You have one of your headaches, dear child, and a very bad one; I noticed it some time ago."

"You are entirely mistaken, dear Hugo; I feel unusually well this morning."

"And this terrible weather," said the Assessor, looking thoughtfully through the open door that led to the balcony; "there, it is raining again; I don't understand how ladies can expose themselves so."

He rose and shut the door.

"Brandow will send a close carriage in any case," said Alma.

"So much the worse," cried the Assessor. "You could not endure an hour in a close carriage, poor child. And then those terrible roads--I know them! To cross Dollan moor after it has rained all night--it's actually dangerous."

"I will not expose you to the danger all alone," said Alma smiling.

"That is very different, dear child. Men must follow wherever duty calls."

"And the prospect of a good dinner--"

"In a word, dear Alma, you would do me a favor if you would stay here."

"I have not the least inclination to do you this favor, dear Hugo, and now what else is there, if I may ask?"

The Assessor had risen and walked up and down the room.

"Well, then," he said pausing, "you know how unwilling I am to deny you anything; but this time I really cannot allow you to go."

Alma looked at her husband in astonishment; Ottilie, who could no longer control herself, burst into a merry laugh, exclaiming:

"'Allow' is a word a husband should never be permitted to use to his wife."

"Perhaps the word is not exactly suitable," said the Assessor; "but it does not alter the fact. And the fact is, that your husband has just given me certain information, which makes Alma's accompanying me this time appear not only undesirable, but even impossible. And your husband, my dear lady, is entirely of my opinion."

"But Emil's solicitude carries him entirely too far," cried Frau Wollnow angrily; "poor Cecilia has not deserved this. That is attacking a woman's reputation, not only unnecessarily, but without the slightest reason. If people are so excessively strict, they will be obliged to give up all society."

"I don't understand you, dear madam," said the Assessor, "at least I do not know what connection Frau Brandow's reputation could have with this very disagreeable affair."

"Then I don't understand you," replied Ottilie.

"It will be best," answered Sellien, "in order to avoid further misunderstandings, to tell the ladies plainly what the point in question really is. True, Herr Wollnow charged me to be cautious; but the flattering obstinacy with which my wife rejects my timid attempts to induce her to stay here, compels me to withdraw from my diplomatic position. Herr Wollnow has just informed me that my confident expectation that Brandow would have the ten thousand thalers ready, which I was to receive from him to-day, is all an illusion. To be sure, Brandow wrote me about a fortnight ago, and made no secret of his embarrassments; but he's such a clever fellow, and has always helped himself out of his scrapes when the pinch came; at any rate, he made no answer to my encouraging letter, and as I said before, I supposed he would not let me come for nothing, but on the contrary have everything ready. Now, however, I hear from your husband that matters are very different, in fact quite desperate. Brandow's credit is entirely exhausted. Herr Wollnow says that nobody could be found on the whole island who would lend him a thaler, since the two Plüggens and Redebas, who have kept his head above water so long, declared yesterday in Wollnow's counting-room that their patience was exhausted, and he would not get another shilling from them. Instead of that, they were to get something from him, that is, they were to receive a very large sum within a few days. They mentioned fifteen thousand thalers; but Herr Wollnow thinks there was probably a little exaggeration about it. But even if this was the whole amount of Brandow's indebtedness--which is undoubtedly not the case--he is still a lost man. The convent confidently expects that Brandow will pay his two years' rent to-morrow. If he does not, it will certainly make use of its right, and proceed to expel him from Dollan, and then Brandow will be as thoroughly and completely ruined as a man can be."

"Poor Cecilia! Poor, poor Cecilia!" cried Frau Wollnow, bursting into tears.

"I am sorry for her," said the Assessor, playing with his long nails. "But what can be done?"

"Emil must help them!" exclaimed Frau Wollnow, removing her handkerchief from her face a moment.

"He will beware of that, as he said just now; it is pouring water into the Danaïdes seive."

"But you, dear Herr Sellien, you are his friend; you cannot see your friend go to ruin."

The Assessor shrugged his shoulders. "Friend! Dear me, whom don't we call by that name? And my relations with Brandow are very superficial, mere business connections, if you choose to call them so; are they not, my dear wife?"

"Certainly, certainly," murmured Alma.

"And I should be giving up this very business relation if I allowed Alma to accompany me, when the situation was so critical. In the presence of ladies it is very difficult not to touch the chords of tender feeling, and it seems to me extremely desirable to avoid the possibility of doing so. Are you not of my opinion, dear Alma?"

"It is a very disagreeable affair," said Alma.

"Is it not? And why should you expose yourself to it unnecessarily? I knew my wise little wife would yield the point at last."

And the Assessor tenderly kissed Alma's hand.

"But in that case it seems to me you must stay here too, my dear Herr Assessor," said Frau Wollnow.

"I? Why? On the contrary, it is only prudent for me to appear as natural as possible. I know nothing; I suspect nothing. Of course I shall be extremely sorry when Brandow takes me aside and tells me he can't pay; but I'll wager the dinner will be none the worse for that, and taste none the worse to me. His red wine and champagne were always superb."

Frau Wollnow rose and went out upon the balcony. She must breathe the fresh air, even at the risk of having her new silk morning-dress spoiled by the rain, which was now falling quite heavily from the gray sky. "Poor, poor Cecilia!" she repeated sighing, "and there is no one who can and will save you."

She remembered that she had brought her husband a dowry of fifty thousand thalers, but she could not touch them without Emil's permission, and Emil would not allow it. Should she try to move him by throwing herself prostrate at his feet? She could almost have laughed outright at the extravagant idea, especially when she imagined the astonished expression her husband's face would wear; but the tears again sprang to her eyes and mingled with the rain-drops that beat upon her burning face. Suddenly the husband and wife within were roused from their low-toned, eager conversation by a loud exclamation from the balcony. "Gotthold, good heavens, Gotthold!"

"Where, where?" cried the Assessor and his wife with one voice, as they hurried out upon the balcony.

"There he comes," said Ottilie, pointing towards the square, across which a man with a broad-brimmed hat, pulled low over his eyes, was walking directly towards the house.

"He isn't so tall as Brandow," said Alma, who was critically inspecting the new-comer through an opera-glass.

"What can he want?" asked her husband.

"We shall soon know," said Frau Wollnow, as with a vague feeling of anxiety she pressed her two companions back into the room.

But Gotthold had only asked for Herr Wollnow, the maid-servant informed them, and she had been ordered to show him into Herr Wollnow's counting-room. The interview, whatever its purport might be, lasted much longer than was at all agreeable to the impatient waiters, and after an hour, during which the Assessor had rather increased than lessened the ladies' impatience by a detailed account of his adventures with Gotthold in Sicily, Herr Wollnow appeared alone. They were astonished, amazed, and scarcely satisfied when Wollnow said that Gotthold had only gone to the Fürstenhof to change his clothes, and would come back if his business gave him time. They wanted to know what business could be so pressing that Gotthold had selected Sunday morning for its transaction.

"The ladies must ask that of himself," said Herr Wollnow; "he has not taken me into his confidence. All I know is, that he is going to drive back to Dollan with our friends here, return to-night or to-morrow morning in the same excellent company, from which he anticipates a great deal of pleasure, and then continue his journey without further delay. It seems that the point in question concerns the hasty purchase of a few gifts, with which he wants to surprise his host and hostess at Dollan at parting; at least he wanted me to give him a sum of money which is rather large for mere travelling expenses, but I can say no more."

And Herr Wollnow, apparently with the utmost unconcern, hummed an air from "Figaro" as he left the room to avoid further questioning.

"I don't think it at all polite for him not to present himself a moment, at least," said Alma; "I've a great mind to punish him for it by not appearing at breakfast."

"Oh! pray don't," said the Assessor.

Ottilie Wollnow made no answer. She knew her husband too well to have the gloomy expression of his eyes and the cloud on his brow escape her notice, in spite of his apparent unconcern. Besides, she had a foreboding that Gotthold's interview with her husband had not been quite so innocent as it seemed, that there was something disagreeable, perhaps some misfortune impending, and above all, she was convinced that the Selliens were getting into a passion in vain, and Gotthold would not appear at breakfast.


The little company at Dollan had already been wandering for half an hour up and down the rain-soaked paths in the garden, between the dripping hedges, waiting for the arrival of Assessor Sellien and dinner.

"You're a pretty fellow," cried Hans Redebas, who was walking with Otto von Plüggen, as Brandow with Gustav von Plüggen and Pastor Semmel met him on the same spot for the third time: "first you invite us to meet some one who vanishes in the dew and mist; then it occurs to your lovely wife, on whose account we all come here, to have a headache and not appear; and finally, we're kept waiting for the Assessor, and wandering around your old wet garden like horses in a tread-mill! I'll give you ten minutes, and if we don't sit down to the table by that time I'll have my horses harnessed, and we'll dine in Dahlitz, and not badly either. What do you say to that, Pastor?"

And Herr Redebas laughed and clapped the Pastor, who had come with him in his carriage, rudely on the shoulder. Brandow laughed too, and said they must have patience; it was not his fault that the Assessor had not arrived, and things had gone contrary that day; the dinner had been ready a long time.

"Then in the name of three devils, let's go to the table, or I shall faint away," cried Herr Redebas.

It was by no means probable that this man, with the frame and strength of a giant, would be overcome by such a sudden attack of weakness; but Brandow had every reason not to increase the ill-humor of his guests. Already, to shorten the time before dinner, they had played a game of cards, in which the Pastor took no share except by his intense interest, and lost a few hundred thalers. To be sure, the amount was very little in comparison to the sum he owed his visitors; but they had been irritated by the loss, and took the less care to conceal their annoyance as Brandow still uttered no word in allusion to the business for whose settlement they had really assembled. Undoubtedly he was unable to pay. To be sure, they had expected it, nay, in point of fact, the whole transaction which Hans Redebas and the two Plüggens had jointly undertaken was based upon this supposition; but now each was not sorry to consider himself in the light of a man of honor, whose confidence had been most shamefully betrayed.

Herr Redebas, especially, was in a very irritable mood. The conditions to which, at the conclusion of the mutual bargain, he had agreed, pleased him less and less every moment. Why had he not required the whole sum to be paid, or else claimed for his share the second stake Brandow had offered in addition to Brownlock, his wheat-harvest? The wheat, as he had just convinced himself, was an exceptionably, unexpectedly fine crop; it would have brought in a very large profit; while the horse, after all, was a doubtful bargain. Since the committee had included a large tract of marsh land in the course laid out for the race between the gentlemen riders, the chances in favor of Brownlock, which was universally considered too heavy a horse, were very considerably lessened. And, moreover, what had such a sedate, man as Hans Redebas to do with such things, which, after all, were only fit for the nobility? It would be better for the two Plüggens to see what they could make of the horse! It was their trade; they understood it, and so in God's name let them take the beast for their ten thousand, and leave him the wheat crop! But this time, in spite of the proverbial want of harmony that prevailed between them, the two brothers made common cause. The bargain had been settled, and every one must rest satisfied with it; if Hans Redebas fancied he was the only one who could see into a thing, he'd find himself greatly mistaken. Therefore, as Herr Redebas could not vent his anger upon his two companions, he thought himself entitled to treat Brandow with all the more rudeness and want of consideration. Even before dinner he had shown this disposition to an extravagant degree, and the wine, of which he drank immense quantities at the table, in spite of its many other excellent qualities, did not possess that of improving the giant's temper.

At any other time it would have been an easy matter for Brandow to parry his antagonist's coarse jests and turn the laugh against him; nay, he was usually considered among his associates to be a man whom one could not offend, with impunity; but to-day his dreaded powers of sarcasm, as well as his often tested courage, seemed to have deserted him. He did not hear what could not have been inaudible, did not understand what no one could fail to comprehend, laughed when he would usually have started up in fury, and with pale trembling lips tried as well as he could to give the conversation a jesting turn, for which purpose he grasped at more and more questionable expedients, and at last related anecdotes, which even to the long-suffering Pastor, seemed altogether too scandalous.

In spite of the noise and laughter, in spite of the row of empty bottles which grew longer and longer under the side-board, it was a dreary, uncomfortable meal, and to no one more so than to the master of the house. Brandow knew from long experience that he could require his nerves to bear a great deal, but it now seemed as if he should not be able to accomplish what he had undertaken to-day. While laughing heartily over a story he had just related, his fingers fairly trembled with the longing he felt to snatch the champagne bottle from the cooler and shatter it upon Redebas' huge black head. He was aware that his strength was almost exhausted; he should break down if Hinrich Scheel did not return soon and release him from this horrible torture of uncertainty. And then it seemed as if this torment was nothing to the other, the torment of the certainty that his wife loved that man, and despised him too much even to hate him, and that he fully deserved her scorn. Again and again--with the speed of lightning--in the few seconds it required to raise a glass of wine to his lips and swallow the contents--he lived over the scene of the night before in her sleeping-room, when he stood before her with clenched fists, and not a muscle in her pale face quivered until he struck her to the heart with the fatal blow which he had cruelly withheld so long. To her heart! Her heart! It had been a master-stroke! A thrust which crushed the proud haughty woman like a stag overtaken by a bullet, rendered her his weak, obedient tool, and made him master of the situation. An enviable situation, to sit here and endure Redebas' coarse taunts, laugh at his own silly wit, look at the stupid faces of the two Plüggens, be cordial to the canting Parson, be forced to see that no one's glass was empty, and amid all the noisy tumult listen continually for the rolling of the carriage which would bring Hinrich, and with Hinrich the money for which he had done what he had done, suffered what he had suffered, and without which he was a ruined man. At last, at last! There was the clatter of horses' hoofs, and the rattle of a carriage, which stopped before the house. No one had heard it except himself! So much the better, he could speak to Hinrich undisturbed!

He left his guests under the pretext that he wanted to get another brand of champagne, and hurried across the hall to the open door, before which the carriage was still standing, and he perceived the Assessor engaged in conversation with Hinrich Scheel, when he suddenly heard his own name called from his room, the door of which also stood open, and turning at the sound, saw the man he hated standing before him. A thrill of mingled rage and alarm shot through his frame like a two-edged sword. What brought this man back? How could he dare to return? To say that he had no money, would not pay.

"We have a few moments to ourselves," said Gotthold, bolting the door behind Brandow; "the Assessor is still outside; he knows nothing; no one knows anything except, of course, Wollnow, without whom I could not procure the money you wanted. Even now I have been unable to get it as you wished, and therefore was obliged to come here again. You wanted fifteen thousand thalers in cash. Wollnow, who is obliged to make very large payments for the purchase of grain this morning, could give me only ten thousand; the remainder I bring you in these drafts of five thousand thalers each, accepted by Wollnow, and payable at sight to-morrow, in Sundin, by Philip Nathanson, the wealthiest banker there. These drafts, in consequence of Wollnow's credit with your friends in the neighborhood, are as good as ready money. I think you will be able to settle your affairs with them yourself; but in any case I am here to come to your assistance with my personal credit, though I confidently believe that it will not be needed."

Gotthold laid a large sealed packet on the table, and drew from his pocket-book the three drafts, which he handed Brandow, and the latter glanced over with a practised eye to convince himself that these papers were really as good as ready money.

A sensation of wonderful relief overpowered the half-intoxicated man. Freedom from the agony of expectation, the certainty of deliverance from his desperate situation, and, moreover, the prospect of soon coming out as winner of the Sundin races, and gainer of an immense sum of money by the aid of his now restored Brownlock--all this overwhelmed him like a delirium of joy, and he felt a sort of longing to clasp in his arms the man who had aided in procuring all this, as his preserver and only true friend; and at the same moment he said to himself that it was impossible that this man, dreamer and enthusiast though he was, would entrust to him a sum, which in itself was a little fortune, unless the worst that his jealous fancy had imagined had already happened--and the expression of the staring eyes he now fixed upon Gotthold seemed to say: "I could crush you like a serpent which has crossed my path!"

"I do not think you will ever be in a situation to return this money," said Gotthold; "perhaps it will not be disagreeable to you to hear that from this time I renounce all expectation of repayment, and therefore a receipt, which would really remain only a bit of paper."

He left the room; Brandow burst into a hoarse laugh.

"That, too," he muttered, "as if another proof were needed! But you shall pay for it, both of you, so dearly, that this in comparison will be only a drop of water on a hot stone."

The Assessor looked in through the door, which Gotthold had left half open. He had heard from the latter that Brandow was here, and hastened to take advantage of the favorable opportunity to greet his friend alone, and express his regret that Gotthold's business had detained them so long in Prora, that he was unable to bring his wife, who was suffering from a severe headache, to Dollan. Brandow declared it to be a proof of the sympathy between two beautiful natures that his wife was also attacked by the same sickness to-day; and the sarcastic, even sneering tone in which he said it, caused the Assessor to secretly congratulate himself upon his caution in coming to this falling house alone. His astonishment was all the greater when Brandow continued with the most perfect composure:--

"And as we are now alone, my dear Sellien, we will take advantage of the opportunity to settle our little business matter. Here are the ten thousand thalers due. I have them from Wollnow. The package is just as I received it, stamped with his seal. If you wish to take the, I presume superfluous, but perhaps necessary trouble, of counting them, don't have the least hesitation about it. When you have finished, follow me. I'll make out a receipt, which you will please sign and put in this drawer."

The Assessor was so astonished that he really hardly knew what to answer; at any rate he was determined to subject the contents of the package to a rigid scrutiny, in spite of Wollnow's seals. Brandow hastily dashed off a receipt, and then left the room with a sarcastic: "Don't make any mistakes, my dear Assessor!"

He had discharged this business hastily in order to be able to speak to his confidant. Hinrich Scheel was still waiting before the door with the carriage; but he had very little to tell, and didn't know why the departure from Prora had been so long delayed. He thought there had been some trouble about the money, and they were obliged to wait for Loitz, who had gone out to drive. The Assessor's wife was not sick; on the contrary, she was standing on the balcony beside Frau Wollnow, kissing her hand to the gentlemen as they drove away. Neither did he know what the gentlemen were talking about on the road; they had jabbered in some foreign language most of the time. So he drove into every hole on the way--and there were plenty to-day after the rain--and made the ride so uncomfortable for the Herr Assessor that he finally swore aloud in good German, and declared he would not go over that road again to-day if he was paid a ton of gold. Then the other answered: "In that case he must go back alone, for he wouldn't stay all night at Dollan under any circumstances."

"It's a bad road at night," said Brandow.

"Especially when it's as dark as it will be this evening," answered Hinrich Scheel.

The eyes of the master and servant met and were instantly averted again.

"There are many things which might make an accident befall a person who was positively determined to go over it at night," said Brandow slowly.

"Unless the driver was very careful," added Hinrich Scheel.

Again their eyes met. No doubt Hinrich had understood him--this time as usual, no doubt this time as usual, Hinrich knew what he wanted. Brandow drew a long breath. He would fain have seen whether Hinrich would not have said another, a final word; but the latter had turned towards his horses. A loud tumult of voices, shouting at each other in tones of the most violent rage, echoed from the dining-room, and at the same moment Rieke came running out. The pretty maid-servant's round cheeks were deeply flushed, her gray eyes sparkled, and her luxuriant fair hair was not so smooth as it had been at the commencement of the dinner.

"What is the matter?" asked Brandow.

"They've been quarreling for the last fifteen minutes. I think they will soon come to blows," said Rieke, showing her white teeth in a merry laugh.

"We will speak of it again," Brandow called to Hinrich, who was just driving the carriage away, and then drew Rieke into the dark hall.

"He has come back again," said he; "see where he goes, and as soon as you notice anything, tell me."

"I don't want to be everlastingly running after those two," said Rieke sulkily.

"Oh, of course you like it much better to have the gentlemen yonder pinch your cheeks and hug you."

"Why not?" said the girl.

"You know what I promised last night," whispered Brandow, now throwing his own arm around her slender waist, and putting his lips to her ear.

"Promising is one thing, and keeping your word is another," said Rieke, but without making any very strenuous effort to release herself.

The noise in the dining-room grew louder.

"There, you will be a good child," said Brandow; "and now off with you; I must see what those fellows are doing."

Hans Redebas had thought he would take advantage of their host's momentary absence to again urge upon the two brothers his proposal that they should give up Brandow's wheat-crop to him for his share, and in exchange take entire possession of Brownlock; and as a witness of the honesty of his intentions, quoted the Pastor, with whom he had repeatedly talked the matter over on the way to Dollan. The Pastor, who wished to make himself agreeable to his patron in every way, had endeavored to depict the advantages the arrangement would have for all concerned, but in his drunkenness laid on the colors so vividly that the two brothers were startled, and recalled a partial concession which they had already made. Upon this Hans Redebas called the Pastor a stupid dunce, who was always meddling with everything, though he knew nothing at all, except a little theological trash, and therefore ought to keep his mouth shut everywhere except in his pulpit. Then the reverend gentleman had started up exclaiming that "dunce" was a word which, as an old graduate of Halle, he would not endure from any one, even his patron, upon which Herr Redebas burst into a roar of laughter, which roused the drunken man to actual fury.

Meantime the two Plüggens had also commenced a violent dispute. Gustav had whispered to his brother that he should like to accept the offer, if Redebas would add two thousand thalers to it; Otto, as the elder, warned the younger brother against entering into any bargain with Redebas, who had more sense in his little finger than he in his whole body. Gustav considered himself insulted by this doubt of his shrewdness, and muttered something about the "straw" which might be found in the other's head, an allusion to the well-known nickname of the elder brother, which of course produced a response in which "hay" was given a prominent place. So all four shouted at each other, to the great amazement of the groom, Fritz, who listened with open mouth till he suddenly felt some one touch him on the shoulder, and looking up saw his master's face.

"Be off, and don't come in here again till I call you."

The lad left the room; Brandow again surveyed the brawlers at the table with hasty glances. "This is just the right moment," he muttered through his clenched teeth.

He approached the table, but instead of sitting down, remained standing with his arms resting on the back of his chair, and said, rejoicing in the sight of the confused faces of the four men, who had suddenly become silent: "Pardon me for interrupting your interesting conversation, gentlemen, especially with a mere business matter, but it must be settled. Hinrich Scheel has just returned from Prora--with the Assessor and another gentleman whose name shall be kept secret for the present. I had requested Wollnow to send me fifteen thousand thalers in cash from my balance in his hands. He begged me to allow him to send drafts to the same amount instead. Drafts, gentlemen, given by the house of Louis Loitz & Co., in Prora, accepted by Wollnow himself, and payable by Philip Nathanson in Sundin. Perhaps the gentlemen will be kind enough to hand me in exchange for these drafts--of five thousand thalers each--the three notes you lately received from me, in case you happen to have them with you."

Bowing ironically, Brandow held out the three drafts which he had arranged in his hand in the shape of a fan.

The confederates looked at each other suspiciously. The matter was not perfectly regular; the notes were payable in cash; they were not obliged to take drafts; but they had just been quarrelling too much among themselves to be capable of forming a united resolution at once, and at heart each was glad that the other was cheated out of the prey he had deemed secure.

"Well, gentlemen," exclaimed Brandow, "I hope none of you will take exception to the manner of my payment. It would be an insult to the worthy Wollnow, to whose complaisance we have all at times been indebted. Or would you like to have the Assessor, who may come in at any moment, be a witness of the way in which the Herren von Plüggen and Herr Hans Redebas are in the habit of treating an old friend who has become involved in a little embarrassment?"

In fact the Assessor's voice was now heard in the hall.

"Hand it over," said Hans Redebas.

"I'll raise no objections," said Otto von Plüggen.

"I'm no spoil-sport," said Gustav.

The drafts were put into the pocket-books of the three gentlemen, in exchange for the notes, which Brandow, with a sarcastic smile, crushed like pieces of waste paper, and thrust into his pocket just as the Assessor entered.

His appearance afforded Brandow a welcome pretext for breaking up the dinner-party, which had already in his opinion lasted too long. It had stopped raining; would they not prefer to drink their coffee in the cool garden, instead of that close room? He expected to find Gotthold in the garden, and was not mistaken. They met him walking up and down in one of the most out-of-the-way paths. He said nothing when Brandow spoke of his return as a surprise he had prepared for his guests, and apologized for his non-appearance on plea of a violent headache, which often attacked him suddenly, and he had hoped to shake off before presenting himself to the company. The two Plüggens were delighted to see their old school-fellow, whom they had always cordially hated, and Herr Redebas esteemed it an honor to make the acquaintance of such a famous man, although it was very evident that he had not the least idea in what particular branch of human activity Gotthold had won his renown. The Pastor, upon whom he was accustomed to depend at such times, unfortunately could give him no information, because he had just thrust his arm into the Assessor's, whom he met that day for the first time, and was assuring him of his eternal friendship. The Assessor laughed and was good-natured enough to laugh again, when Hans Redebas, to display his much-admired strength, raised the pair in his arms and carried them around the open space, thereby inciting Otto von Plüggen to take out his silk pocket-handkerchief, and holding it by the two corners, jump over it forward and backward, while Gustav, in laudable emulation of his ingenious brother, balanced a garden chair on his lower teeth.

"Now I should like to show you my trick," cried Brandow, "and therefore will beg you to follow me a few steps."

He went forward and opened a little door in the hedge, which led directly into the open space where he trained his racers. It was a tolerably large piece of ground, selected with great discrimination, and prepared with much skill for the purpose for which it was intended. There were wide and narrow ditches, low and high fences, broad stretches of smooth, closely-shaven turf to permit the horse to display his full speed, and heavy fallow ground for a hunting gallop. Brandow had inclosed three sides of this space, the fourth of which was occupied by the stables, with a board fence the height of a man, and kept it jealously secluded from every one. Now he rejoiced in the glances of envious admiration the three landed proprietors cast around them. But he had a still greater annoyance in store. As the little party moved towards the stables, Hinrich Scheel came forward to meet them, leading Brownlock. The beautiful animal champed his bit impatiently, rubbed his delicate head against the shoulder of his groom, and then once more gazed at the by-standers with his large black eyes, as if to ask each who would have courage to cope with him.

"Well, gentlemen," cried Brandow, "you had a great desire to ride Brownlock; there he is. I'll bet ten louis-d'or to one, that none of you can even mount him."

"I shouldn't like to break the beast's back," muttered Hans Redebas.

Otto Plüggen had sprained his foot in leaping, but Gustav thought he could easily win the ten louis-d'or.

Gustav von Plüggen was universally acknowledged to be a good rider, and had gained the prize more than once in the Sundin races. He did not doubt for an instant that he should win the bet, but nevertheless thought it advisable to go to work with all possible caution. So he walked around the horse to render it familiar with the sight of him, patted the slender neck, scratched its smooth forehead, and then, still talking to the animal, gently took the reins and told Hinrich Sheel to stand aside. But the moment he touched the stirrup with his foot, Brownlock sprang aside so violently, that Gustav was glad even to retain his hold upon the bridle. Again and again he made the attempt, always with the same want of success.

"I could have told you so before," cried Herr Redebas.

"You're making a fool of yourself again unnecessarily," snarled his brother.

Gotthold had noticed that Hinrich Scheel always stood directly before the horse with his squinting eyes fixed steadily upon it, and whenever Gustav tried to mount, made an almost imperceptible motion with his head, upon which the animal, whose black eyes were fixed intently upon its trainer, either sprang aside or reared.

"I think you would do better if you told Hinrich Scheel to go away from the horse, Herr von Plüggen," said he.

"Oh! Gustav will give it up," cried Brandow hastily; "I only made the bet in jest; the fact is, that Hinrich Scheel has trained Brownlock not to allow any one to mount except himself or me; and I could not get into the saddle against Hinrich's will. This was the very trick I wanted to show you."

Every one, with the exception of Gotthold, took the whole thing as a joke, until Brandow proved the contrary before their own eyes. Brownlock would not allow him to mount, until Hinrich Scheel gave the sign. Now came the second part of the exhibition Brandow had in store for his guests. He rode Brownlock over the whole course, taking the most difficult obstacles with an ease which displayed in the clearest light his perfect horsemanship, as well as the almost wonderful strength and endurance of the noble animal, and filled the hearts of his three rivals with the bitterest envy.

"It's a shame for a fellow like that to have such a horse," said Gustav Plüggen, who had joined Gotthold, while the rest of the party went to visit the stables; "a downright shame. That is: he certainly rides splendidly--for a plebeian, I mean; but a plebeian never ought to be allowed to keep race-horses. I talked about it enough in the committee, when we were arranging the races at Sundin eight years ago; but I couldn't get my way. Now we have the consequences. For the last four years Brandow has taken all the best prizes; it's enough to drive one mad. The fellow would have been ruined long ago if it hadn't been for the races, the races--and his wife."

"His wife?" asked Gotthold.

"Why, of course. We wouldn't have lent him another penny long ago; but for the sake of his wife, who is really a lovely woman; we can't let him go to ruin entirely. Of course he knows that better than any one else, and so she is always obliged to be of the party when any new credit is to be obtained. A week ago to-day, when we were in Plüggenhof, Otto paid his attentions to her at the table in the wildest way--in the presence of his own wife, née Baroness von Grieben-Keffen--and half an hour after dinner Brandow had his five thousand thalers in his pocket. It was a piece of madness on Otto's part; we had agreed that we would not give more than five thousand together. It would have proved a capital thing for us, but that damned Jew has spoiled it again. The devil knows why he helped him. And the Assessor told me he had been paid too. Twenty-five thousand thalers at one slap! I don't understand it at all--and that's saying something, for I generally know all his tricks and turns. The Pastor thinks you, and nobody else, have given him the money; and in return Brandow will overlook it if you and his wife--there, you needn't fly into a rage. Parson's gossip, that's all. You would take care of yourself--twenty-five thousand--ridiculous! But he has it--that's a fact, as they say in England--ever been in England? I was there--eight years ago when we were arranging about the Sundin races--famous country! horses, women, sheep--famous!-what was I going to say? He has the twenty-five thousand, and Dollan's safe for five years, the Assessor says; and now Brownlock too! Damn! that is a horse! On my honor, I haven't seen his equal even in England. What action! What a hock! And how he went over everything! Magnificent! But too heavy! too heavy, 'pon honor--he won't cross the piece of marsh-land we have now taken into the race-course. They say Prince Prora declared it wasn't fair! It's all very well for him to talk, he has no interest in the racing! Won't you come in with us? I hear there is to be a little card-party made up."

"I have never gambled, and--my headache is coming on again."

"Strange, I've no more idea what a headache is than if I had no head--you artists probably get it from the oil paints; they smell abominably."


The young nobleman followed the others, who had already entered the house and gone into Brandow's room on the right of the hall, where the gaming-table, as Gotthold had noticed through the window, was already prepared.

"Why, Herr Weber, are you going to stay out here?" asked Rieke, who had been standing in the hall, and now approached him.

Her gray eyes rested upon him with a very friendly expression, and the thought passed through his mind that it probably depended only upon himself to win the goodwill of this avaricious creature, and even now he might make up for his neglect, nay must do so if he wished to accomplish the object for which he had returned to Dollan. He had given her a very handsome present when he took his departure that morning; perhaps he only needed to go on as he had begun.

"We didn't expect to see you again so soon," added the girl; "and you went away so suddenly: you left a great many things behind; a beautiful red silk handkerchief--shall I get it for you?"

She was now standing close beside him, and as if by accident, touched his arm.

"I think it would be very becoming to you," said Gotthold.

"Do you? I should think you would know a great deal about what was becoming to me. You never had eyes for anybody except--some one else."

"Where is your mistress to-day? Why doesn't she appear?" asked Gotthold, and then as he fancied he saw a cloud pass over the girl's face, added: "I would give a great deal to know."

"How much?" said the girl, with a roguish laugh.

"Rieke, where are you?" cried Brandow's voice from the dining-room.

"We want some more glasses. Where is the girl?" and he banged the door angrily behind him.

"He didn't see us," whispered Rieke. "I must go in now, but I'll come back again directly."

She glided away; Gotthold stood still a few moments, undecided whether to make an attempt to see Cecilia on his own account or not. There was no question that the girl could be of use to him if she chose; but would she choose? She seemed really frightened when Brandow called; but he had not relied much upon the fickle favor of the frivolous lass, and perhaps the whole thing was a preconcerted plot between Brandow and the girl in order to make sure of him, entangle him the more firmly in the net. No, it was better, trusting only to his own skill, to take advantage of the opportunity.

And the opportunity was more favorable, than any which might offer again. A second stolen glance through the window into the already lighted room showed him that the party were busily engaged in their game--faro apparently--and Brandow had the bank--so he could not leave now. Rieke was standing at the back of the tolerably large room with a waiter full of glasses, which the Pastor was filling from a large bowl--so she too was employed for the present. The hall was perfectly still; the table in the dining-room still stood just as the guests had left it--the solitary candle at which they had lighted their cigars flickered in the strong draught, as if ready to go out. This room was also unoccupied; so he succeeded in reaching the dusky garden unseen.

Although the sun had scarcely set, it was almost dark. The clouds, which had dispersed a little during the afternoon, were once more piled in huge dark masses, which a high wind blowing in irregular gusts, drove to and fro as if in wild sport. The tops of the old trees swayed hither and thither; and the tall hedges rustled and hissed like a thousand sharp tongues.

So it seemed to Gotthold. Again and again he paused, gasping for breath; he was so entirely unaccustomed to do anything by stealth. And yet it must be; he could not part from her forever in this way.

The end of the house, in the lower part of which was her chamber, and above it the room he had occupied, looked out upon a smaller garden, which was separated from the courtyard by a wall, shut in on the opposite side by a barn, and divided from the larger garden at the back of the house by a very thick, high hedge. It had originally been a fruit and vegetable garden, and a few huge old apple and pear trees still stood in different parts of it; but had afterwards been converted into a play-ground for the children of the house, for whose sake the asparagus and cucumber beds had been transformed into a grass plot, and a narrow door cut through the thick wall of the nursery.

Gotthold had repeatedly seen Cecilia, who always retired early in the evening, in this garden with the child, or--at a later hour--alone. His hope was to find her here, or at any rate to make known his presence, of which she had probably not been informed, and--he did not know what would, must happen then; he only said to himself that things could not, should not remain as they were.

The place, so far as it could be seen from the door, was empty, but a light appeared at first one and then another window. Cautiously as he closed the door, he could not prevent its creaking loudly on its rusty hinges; at the same moment a watch-dog with which Gretchen often played sprang towards the intruder with a loud bark, but was silent again as soon as it recognized Gotthold. He accepted the animal's caresses as a good omen, and walked cautiously on towards the light, which now streamed steadily from one window, that of the child's sleeping-room, which adjoined Cecilia's. Gotthold, with a beating heart, approached it and saw her.

She had apparently just put the little girl's playthings away, and then sank into a chair beside the table, supporting her forehead upon her left hand, the image of grief. The rays of the light standing behind her clearly revealed the exquisite shape of the head, the delicate outlines of the slender neck, the soft curves of the shoulders and bust, while the deep shadow seemed to increase the expression of sorrow upon the pure features. Gotthold's heart overflowed with love and pity. "Cecilia, dearest Cecilia!" he murmured.

She could not have heard the words; but at that moment she raised her head, and, glancing towards the window, perceived the dark figure before it. Starting from her chair with a low exclamation of joy, she extended her arms, then waved him back with both hands, crying in tones of agony:

"No, no, for God's sake!"

Gotthold had neither seen Cecilia's repellent gesture, nor heard her words. He had hastily entered by the door, which was only latched, and was now kneeling at her feet, clasping her hands, and covering them with passionate kisses.

All that had moved his heart and filled it to bursting during these last few days, so overflowing with the joy and anguish of love, all the nameless agony he had suffered from the night before until now, gushed from his lips in a torrent of wild, passionate words; and, however she might struggle against it, she felt herself carried away and borne along by the tide, until, springing up and clasping her in his arms, he cried: "So come, Cecilia! you must not remain another moment in this house, must not stay under the same roof with this scoundrel, who allows himself to be paid with paltry money for the shame of knowing that his wife is beloved by another, and loves him in return. I went away without you this morning--it all came upon me so suddenly, was so incomprehensible; I thought I must obey your command, although I did not understand you, although you acted from compassion for the man whom you had once loved, nay, out of a remnant of affection for him. Now I understand you better, now I know, once for all, that you love me, now I have found--we have found each other again; now no one, nothing shall part us! Cecilia! you do not answer me?"

She had gazed at him with eyes that expressed the most painful astonishment. Now she seized the light and led the way into her chamber, at the back of which stood her bed, and close before it the tiny couch of her child.

The little one lay with her eyes not quite closed, her lips half parted, and her round cheeks flushed with the childish slumber which follows waking hours, as the hues of twilight follow the setting sun. Cecilia did not point to the child; but her glance and the expression of her features said as plainly as words, "This is my answer."

Gotthold's eyes fell; in the selfishness of passion he had scarcely thought of the child at all, and certainly never as an obstacle. He did not understand it even now. "Your child will be mine," he faltered. "You shall never be parted from the child; I will never separate you from her."

She had placed the light on the floor, that it might not shine in Gretchen's eyes, and then knelt beside the little bed, pressing her forehead against the edge, and waving her hand for him to go. Gotthold stood beside the kneeling form with the despair of a man who feels that his cause is lost, and yet cannot and will not give it up. Suddenly the dog, which had followed them, began to growl, and then broke into a low bark as he put his nose to the threshold of the door which opened into the sitting-room; Gotthold thought he heard a rustling there, and walked towards it; Cecilia threw herself before him. Her countenance and gestures expressed the most deadly terror; she motioned towards the nursery, through which they had come, and as Gotthold did not instantly obey, hurried into the room herself. Gotthold mechanically followed.

"Go, go, for God's sake!" exclaimed Cecilia.

They were the first words that had escaped her lips.

"I will not fly again!"

"You must! or all has been in vain! The torture, the conflict, the shame--all, all."

"Cecilia," cried Gotthold, fairly beside himself, "I should be unworthy the name of a man, if I left you so again. I want light; I want to know what I am doing, why I am doing it?"

"I dare say no more; you must understand me; I thought you would have done so from the first, or I should not have had the courage; I should be the most miserable creature on earth if you did not understand me even now. But you will, or I could not love you. And now, by your love for me, Gotthold, you must not remain here an instant longer. Farewell, and farewell forever!"

It seemed as if a struggle had taken place between the two in the dimly-lighted room; he had held her and she had clung to him as if forever; then she desperately released herself from his hold, and pushed him from her, as if his presence must bring death and destruction. Then he once more held the dear form in his arms, clasped it to his heart, felt her hot, quivering lips pressed to his, and then stood outside in the garden, with the rain beating into his face, the swaying tree-tops above him rustling and whispering, and the tall hedges beside him hissing and muttering, as if with thousands and thousands of tongues: "Fool, silly fool, simpleton, to let yourself be cheated, once, twice, as often as she--or he chooses--how do I know?"

He burst into a loud laugh, and as he did so there was a burning sensation in his breast which grew hotter and hotter; he would have given much if he could have wept. But that he could not, would not do. After all, nothing was yet decided; nothing was yet lost, although his soul was as dark as the black night that covered the earth around him. No star pierced the rack of dense driving clouds; scarcely the faintest ray of light was visible in the west. And yet--this dull gleam came from the sun, which had set and would rise again to-morrow; it was a pledge that the gloomy night would not last forever. And on his lips still lingered a memory of her breath, the fervor of her kisses. No! no! There could be no eternal separation! This torture could not last forever!


Pretty Rieke had been detained in the dining-room longer than she liked, the Pastor had performed his office of cup-bearer with an unsteady hand, and moreover thought it necessary to accompany the performance with long-winded, incoherent speeches; but the gentlemen at the gaming-table had drunk the faster, and impatiently demanded more, until at last Rieke, tired of the continual running to and fro which seemed to have no end, resolutely carried the side-board with the bowl upon it to the gaming-table, and thus rendered it possible for the willing Pastor to present the glasses he filled himself. Then, after leaning over Hans Redebas' chair and watching the game a few minutes, she glided hastily out of the room.

She wanted to continue her conversation with Gotthold. The handsome, quiet man had always pleased her, and she had played the rôle of spy, which Brandow had assigned her, less from love for her master than jealousy of her mistress, to whom she grudged the attentions of the stately stranger. The generous present he had bestowed upon her that morning had in some degree touched, and even puzzled her, and the cordiality he had just shown had completely disarmed her. Of course he had only come back for her mistress' sake, but to her fickle heart it was no enigma how one object can be kept in view without losing sight of another. She would even help him, if he was very, very friendly to her; and after all, it was certainly better for her if the stranger finally ran away with her mistress.

But she did not find him at the door, where she had left him. Besides, the door was not a suitable place to continue the interesting conversation, and the hall was equally undesirable. Perhaps he was in the dining-room. He was not there; the trees in the garden, into which she cast a glance, were tossing quite too rudely. Where could he have gone? Where, except to his own room, to look after the things he had left there! She must help him; he could not find anything in the dark.

The pretty servant-girl drew a long breath, and then in the twinkling of an eye glided noiselessly up the stairs and across the hall to the gable room Gotthold had occupied during his stay. Here she paused, pressing her hands to her burning cheeks and heaving breast, and then after a low knock, to which she expected no reply, slowly opened the door, as if with timid reluctance. Her cheeks had burned, her heart had throbbed in vain-the room was empty. She went to the window, and instantly drew back again. There, close beneath her, in the children's playground, was the man she sought, cautiously approaching the window from which a faint, varying light fell upon the tree-trunks; and then he disappeared--where, except through the nursery to her? She had not given the two hypocrites credit for that; they knew how to help themselves, to be sure! It was too shameless! Then the promise he had made her several times, but which she had not really believed, that he would make her his wife if the other was once out of the way, might come true. At any rate, he should know it; they deserved nothing better.

"What does this mean?" cried Hans Redebas, as Brandow, with a hasty apology, rose from the table just as the cards had been cut.

"I'll come back directly," answered Brandow.

"That we should have expected," shouted Redebas. "Pastor, another glass!" Brandow left the table unwillingly; he had been winning considerable sums, and his gambler's superstition warned him that he ought, not to turn his back upon the game; but Rieke had beckoned to him over Hans Redebas' shock of black hair-something particularly important must have happened.

He followed the girl into the hall, and from thence into the sitting-room on the left, where she told him by signs to step lightly, until they reached the narrow door that opened into Cecilia's sleeping-room. A faint ray of light gleamed through the crack over the threshold. The girl crouched down and put her ear to the door. Brandow stood bending over her, also listening. They could distinctly hear some one speaking, but neither who it was, nor what was said. But what did it matter? To whom could she speak here, except to him? What could they say except what they dared not suffer others to hear? And now the light grew brighter--they had entered the sleeping-room. Brandow trembled from head to foot with jealous fury. Should he rush in and strangle the pair, expose them to open shame? But Gotthold was no longer the feeble boy of former days; the result of a conflict with him, man to man, was at least doubtful, and he had certainly already received his pay. The disgrace would cling to him, and--it was too late! The barking of the dog, which made him and his accomplice fly from the door, must have warned them too; he would find the nest empty. Be it so; he had heard enough.

"Well?" said Rieke, when they had glided back through the sitting-room and were again standing in the hall.

"Go in, and say I will come directly," replied Brandow.

The tone in which he spoke predicted some evil; Rieke was almost sorry for what she had done. "He isn't like you," she said soothingly, with the most perfect sincerity.

Brandow laughed scornfully. "Go in," he repeated, stamping his foot.

The girl obeyed; Brandow went to the open door and gazed across the dark court-yard towards the stables. The rain beat into his face, and with it came the sickly odor of native tobacco. On the left, directly under him, before the stone bench glowed a red spot, and a harsh voice asked:

"Well, what about harnessing the horses?"

It was the man for whom he had just been looking, upon whom he had depended for the execution of the plan of vengeance brooding darkly in his soul, nay the man, as he now imagined, who had implanted its first germ. So it was to be.

"He won't want to go away now, if it were only on account of the bad weather."

"The others must go too."

"They have stayed here often enough."

"Send them away."

Brandow reflected a moment. "If I win a few hundred more, they will go of their own accord," he murmured. "But you must give him a thorough soaking, Hinrich--a thorough one, mind."

"Where there is no bottom," said Hinrich.

The words quivered through Brandow's soul like a flash of lightning across a midnight sky. That was the very thing.

"And I'll give you whatever you ask!" he said, in a hoarse tone, bending down into the cloud of smoke that rose from Hinrich's pipe.

"No pay, no work,--and that trick with Brownlock a little while ago cost me five louis-d'or. I should like half down now."

"Here it is," said Brandow, feeling in his pocket, and giving him as much of the gold he had just won as he could grasp.

"You have always been a good master to me," said Hinrich, rubbing the gold pieces together in his horny palm.

"And will be a still better one in future."

"The gentlemen will go away if you don't come in at once," said Rieke, hurrying out. She had left the door of the room open, and Hans Redebas' gruff bass voice was heard shouting: "Brandow! Brandow!" amid shrill laughter, and a hoarse tone repeating: "We won't go home! We won't go home!"

"I'll get rid of you," muttered Brandow. "You will stay here, Hinrich."

"I'll wait, sir."

Brandow went back into the gaming-room.

"You are taking an undue advantage of the freedom the accidental absence of ladies bestows," said Brandow, with cutting contempt, as his guests received him with upraised glasses and a halloo, to which Gustav von Plüggen added a loud hip, hip, hurrah!

"Accidental?" cried Hans Redebas; "not at all accidental; you are driving a good business to-day."

"And where is your wife?" said Otto von Plüggen.

"I demand an explanation of this," cried Brandow; "I will not permit--"

He paused suddenly. Turning angrily towards Otto von Plüggen, he saw Gotthold, who must have entered the room directly behind him, and had unquestionably heard all. It was impossible to discuss this subject in his presence. So, with a violent effort, he forced back the furious hate that surged up in his heart at the sight of his face, and cried:

"So there you are at last! Where in the world have you hidden yourself? Thank God, you have come to put an end to this horrible gambling."

"Ho! ho!" exclaimed Hans Redebas, "horrible gambling! Is that the way the wind blows? I believe you! He has won six hundred or more already. Does that taste badly?"

"I owe no man any revenge, however," cried Brandow, with a gesture of exaggerated violence.

"But, Brandow," expostulated the Assessor, "you mustn't weigh every word; Redebas had no intention of offending you. He only wanted to continue the game, and, to speak frankly, I don't see what we could do better."

"Well, Herr Assessor, if you think what you have also won--"

"The few thalers!" said the Assessor, not without some little embarrassment.

"I can certainly make no objection," continued Brandow. "I only thought that this little consideration was due our friend Gotthold, who does not play, and of whom we have seen so little, or rather I should say, ourselves. He doesn't lose a great deal in dispensing with our society, but we do in losing his."

"Pray don't disturb yourselves on my account," said Gotthold.

"Well, then, in the devil's name, go on," cried Hans Redebas, seizing the cards. "I'll keep the bank for once, I can probably find a few little savings still."

And with his left hand he drew from the thick pocketbook lying before him a pile of bank-notes which he crushed together in a heap. "There now, play in regular order, Brandow and the rest of you, I beg."

"I am sorry, but what can I do? I hope you will excuse me," Brandow whispered to Gotthold, as he resumed his place at the table. Gotthold drew back, and could do nothing but accept the invitation of the Pastor, who was sitting in one corner of the great leather-covered sofa, and as Gotthold took his place beside him, leaned a little forward, not without difficulty, and began to talk with a faltering tongue.

"Yes, yes, my beloved friend, a sinful world, a wicked, sinful world, but we must not be too harsh, not too harsh, for Heaven's sake! You work all the week, or at least order your servants to work for you; but they must not do it on Sunday, on pain of a heavy punishment. Just before the beginning of this harvest, we sent out a paper written in the strongest terms. What were they doing with the long hours? Idleness is the beginning of all crimes: gambling, drinking--Rieke, a glass--two glasses--don't you drink? Do very wrong--brewed myself--from a receipt of my honored employer, Count Zernikow. I brewed more than three hundred bowls during my career as tutor--could do it at last with my eyes shut--with my eyes shut--eyes shut."

He had only stammered the last words, his heavy head fell forward, and the lower part of his face disappeared amid the folds of his crumpled white cravat. He sank helplessly back into his corner.

The vacant face filled Gotthold with angry contempt.

The man had realized the promise of the boy; intoxication had torn away the mask of hypocrisy, and there was the stupid, dissolute face of the Halle student, whom Gotthold so well remembered. It could not be otherwise. But that this pitiful creature should be his father's successor, this blinking owl sit in the eyrie of the eagle, whose fiery eyes had always sought the sun; this coarse buffoon be permitted to tinkle his bells in the very place where the preacher, with glowing eloquence, had summoned his hearers to repentance and atonement, seemed to him a personal insult. And yet this man was in his proper place; the flock was worthy of the shepherd; everything here was of a piece--like a picture drawn by some master hand, in the boldest outlines and most glaring colors: the drunken Pastor nodding in the sofa corner, the excited, wine-flushed faces of the gamblers, the voluptuous figure of the maid-servant passing to and fro and handing the fiery beverage to the revellers, exchanging a sly smile or hasty word with one, coquettishly pushing away the hand of another, who tried to pass his arm around her waist--the true goddess of this temple of sin!--and the whole enveloped in the circling wreaths of gray smoke which ascended from the constantly burning pipes, and floated in dusky red rings around the dim wicks of the candles; only that it was no picture, but the coarsest, rudest, most commonplace reality. And alas, the outrage that she should be compelled to live under this roof, that the wild riot should re-echo even in her quiet room--not for the first or last time!-that these were the men who frequented the house--these empty-headed, silly young noblemen, this rough upstart, with his coarse hands and coarser jests. And when this company of fauns and satyrs departed, to have for her only consoler solitude--solitude which stared at her with cold, hard, piercing serpent eyes. There they were, those very eyes; they had just glanced over the cards with a quick stealthy look! Those eyes, and hers--soft, gentle, tender!

Gotthold no longer saw the gamblers. He beheld her sitting in the lonely nursery beside her child's playthings; a touching figure, still so girlish in its soft, delicate outlines. He saw the sad face suffused with a roseate flush of joy, saw it disfigured with pain and terror-he lived over in imagination the whole scene, which already seemed like a dream; and dreamed on of a future which must surely come, a future full of sunlight, love, and poetry.

He could not have told how long he had been sitting absorbed in thought, when a loud noise at the gaming-table suddenly startled him. Something unusual seemed to have happened; Hans Redebas and Brandow alone retained their seats, the others were bending over the table with eager faces; even Rieke was gazing so intently that she forgot to push away the Assessor's arm, which had been thrown around her waist.

"Do you take it again?" cried Redebas.


"Another thousand? That will make it five!"

"Devil take it, yes!"

A breathless silence followed, in which Gotthold heard nothing but the noise of the cards Redebas dealt, and then another outcry and tumult, such as had previously roused him from his revery, only this time it was so loud that even the drunken Pastor staggered out of his corner. Gotthold approached the table. His first glance rested upon Brandow's face, which was deadly pale; but his thin lips were firmly compressed, and a disagreeable smile even sparkled in his stern, cold eyes, as he now cried, turning to the new-comer:

"They have plucked me finely, Gotthold; but night never lasts forever."

"But this," cried Redebas throwing the cards on the table, and making a memorandum in his pocket-book, "I decline!"

"What does that mean?" asked Brandow.

"That I will play no more," answered Redebas with a loud laugh, closing his pocket-book and rising heavily.

"I always thought the loser could break up the game, not the winner."

"If the winner is not sure of his point--oh! yes."

"I demand an explanation!" cried Brandow, pushing the table aside.

"Why, Brandow, do be reasonable!" exclaimed Otto and Gustav von Plüggen, in the same breath.

"Are you in partnership again?" answered Brandow with a sneering laugh, and then stepped before Redebas: "I demand an explanation at once!"

The giant had drawn back a step: "Oho," he cried; "if that's what you want, come on!"

"My dear Brandow," said the Assessor soothingly, putting himself between them.

"I know what I am doing, Herr Assessor," answered Brandow, pushing him aside.

"And I know too," cried Redebas, throwing up the window, and shouting across the quiet court-yard in a voice like the roar of a lion. "Harness the horses, August! harness the horses!"

A scene of wild confusion followed, in which all shouted together, so that Gotthold could only distinguish a word here and there. Hans Redebas raved loudest of all, but apparently quite as much from fear as anger, while Brandow remained comparatively calm, and was evidently intent upon separating the Assessor, who was constantly intermeddling, from the three others whom the Pastor now joined, and by all possible signs announced his intention of making a speech, in which he actually several times got as far as the beginning: "My beloved friends!"

The three carriages, to which the impatient coachmen had harnessed the horses long before, drove up. The quarrel had been continued from the room to the hall, from the hall to the door, and even to the carriage steps.

"We shall see, we shall see," cried Hans Redebas; "are you in, Pastor? Then, in the devil's name, drive on--we shall see," he shouted again from the carriage window, as the powerful Danish horses trotted away at a rapid pace towards the northern gate, from whence the shorter road, which, however, was scarcely visible in the darkness, led through the forest to Dahlitz.

Meantime Otto and Gustav von Plüggen had finally become involved in a quarrel with each other. Gustav, who had no lamps on his carriage, declared that he must go across the moor, while Otto wanted to follow Redebas. Gustav had already borne so much from his older brother that day, that he considered himself obliged to take this refusal as a personal insult. He had no bundle of hay in front of his head, and wouldn't run the risk of breaking his skull against the trees in the forest. "Then he could light the straw in it, and find his way home by that," Otto replied.

So they drove away in opposite directions.

"That is very foolish," said Brandow, looking after Gustav's carriage.

"One will get across and the other won't," replied Hinrich Scheel.

"We know that you are the best driver."

"An accident is liable to happen to any one."

"That is, you want it to be so."

"It seems you don't."

Brandow did not answer immediately. He had thought the matter less difficult; but he need not break his neck, only an arm or leg.

He cast a timid glance through the window; the light fell directly upon Gotthold's grave, handsome face. Brandow ground his teeth. No, it was not enough. He must have his life; the damned hypocrite deserved nothing better, and where was the crime? An accident might happen to the best driver.

Suddenly he started. He had not thought of that before. By his quarrel with his associates at the gaming-table he had fortunately prevented the whole party from remaining all night until broad daylight, as they had often done before, and thus robbed Gotthold of a suitable excuse for staying also, if such was his intention--and of that Brandow, after what he had heard, was firmly convinced. He had also, by intentionally keeping the Assessor out of the quarrel, made it impossible for the latter to go away at once with the others, though he had not lacked invitations, as thus his prey would have escaped him, for Gotthold probably would not have remained without the Assessor. But now--how could he separate the two? If the Assessor stayed--and he did not seem to think of leaving--Gotthold would stay also, or at least have a most plausible excuse for doing so; and if he forced the Assessor to go--

Again his sullen glance wandered towards the two men in the room--the Assessor talking to Gotthold with the most animated gestures; the latter, to judge from his expression and movements, listening reluctantly.

"I drove them both here, so I can drive them both back again," said Hinrich Scheel, pressing down the ashes in his pipe.

Both! One! yes; but what had the other done to him? Nothing! Nothing at all! And he had received ten thousand thalers from him to-day.

"It's a pity about the beautiful money, if any accident should happen to us on the moor," said Hinrich, knocking the tobacco out of his pipe; "I'll get the carriage ready, and take those jades of Jochen Klüts; it would be a pity to hurt our grays."

He walked slowly away. Brandow's eyes followed the short dark figure; he wanted to call him back, to tell him he need not harness the horses, but only a strange, hoarse, choking sound came from his throat; his tongue clung to his palate, and as he raised his foot he staggered like a drunken man, and was obliged to hold fast to the trunk of one of the old linden-trees, through whose thick branches a violent gust of wind was just roaring. The rain, which again began to fall, beat into his face, now burning with a strange flush, although he was shivering from head to foot.

There! What was that? The noise of the carriage which Hinrich was pushing out of the barn. There was still time! But, after all, he had said nothing, nothing at all; how could he help it if an accident happened to Hinrich on the moor at night?

Gotthold and the Assessor had remained in the room; the latter was trying to explain to Gotthold that Brandow had certainly been quite right when he asked that the game should be continued, but had done wrong to express his wish in so peremptory a manner; and finally he ought not to have forgotten that he was the host, and as such must overlook any little impropriety on the part of his guests.

During the latter part of his long speech, the Assessor had addressed himself in an admonitory tone, partly to Brandow, who had just entered the room, and going up to the side-board swallowed several glasses of wine. "I have in fact been compelled to overlook many such things to-day, and am obliged to you, Herr Assessor, for keeping me in practice up to the last minute."

The tone in which Brandow said this, and the gesture with which he approached the Assessor, were so peculiar that the latter was partly sobered, and stared in astonishment at his host, who now came a step nearer and said in a low voice:

"Or what do you call it, when the guests, in presence of the servants, subject the conduct of the master of the house to such an unsparing criticism?" and he pointed to Rieke, under whose direction another maid servant and the groom Fritz were beginning to remove the glasses standing about on the tables, and sweep up the fragments scattered over the floor.

The Assessor drew himself up to his full height.

"I beg your pardon," said he, "and will request you to be kind enough to place your carriage at my disposal for my return. I regret that I did not accept from your other guests the favor I must now solicit of you. I can still depend upon your company, Gotthold?"

"I think Brandow will make no objections."

"I beg the gentlemen to act their own pleasure."

They bowed to each other with distant civility. A few minutes after, the same light carriage that had brought the two gentlemen to Dollan a few hours before rolled over the rough road into the dark, gusty night. Hinrich Scheel drove the horses.


It was about ten o'clock, but, although the season was mid-summer and the moon must have already risen, dark as only a moonless night in autumn could be. And with autumnal chillness the wind blew over the rye stubble, and the rain, which had just begun to fall again with renewed violence, beat into their faces.

"Button your coat up," said Gotthold to his companion, who was swaying to and fro uncomfortably in his seat. "You seem very much heated."

"Because I have kept buttoned up all the evening," answered the Assessor. "I mean it in a literal sense, on account of the ten thousand thalers I have had in my breast-pocket; figuratively I might have been somewhat more so; but for all that, I beg of you, my dear friend, give me some explanation of Brandow's mysterious conduct. He actually turned me out of doors! And why? I don't understand it. After we had been on the most cordial terms the whole evening; after we had been, so to speak, hand-and-glove. And everything settled! The whole large sum paid in cash, down to the last penny, which, to be sure, is the greatest mystery of all. And he is to have the money from Wollnow! Did Wollnow mystify me? And why? I no more see any light in all this than I can see my hand before my eyes. Horrible darkness!"

"The moon has been up an hour already," said Hinrich Scheel.

"And is that why you have no lamps on the carriage?"

"Herr von Plüggen had none either."

"You thought your pipe would give us light enough, didn't you?"

"I needn't smoke, sir."

"Then don't; I can't say that the odor of your canaster is very agreeable."

"Folks like us can't smoke nice tobacco, like fine gentlemen," said Hinrich Scheel, emptying his pipe so roughly that the sparks flew in all directions through the darkness, and thrusting it into his breast-pocket.

"Isn't this the same fellow who drove us here this afternoon?" asked the Assessor in a low tone.

"The same," answered Gotthold; "and I should advise you to use the same precaution we adopted on the way here."

But the Assessor was not in the mood to follow Gotthold's counsel. The intoxication, from which the scene with Brandow had only roused him for a short time, returned with redoubled power, now that he was exposed to the cold night air. He began to abuse Brandow, in whose favor he had always spoken at the convent, who but for him would have been obliged to leave Dollan a year ago, who was greatly indebted to him in every respect, and now repaid him with the basest ingratitude. But his friendship and protection were now at an end. He still had the fine fellow under his thumb. The lease must yet be renewed. To be sure, Brandow had paid this time, but what guarantee of future security was there to be had from a man who, in his precarious situation, loaded himself with a gambling debt of five thousand thalers? He need only give the monks this piece of information, and Brandow would be cast off. Did Brandow expect to satisfy the convent by the assurance that he would win the race on Brownlock! Brownlock, nothing but Brownlock! Brandow had not won yet, and they were strict in their rules at the race-course. Only last year, young Klebenitz--eldest son of a nobleman though he was--had been excluded because it got noised abroad that he had been twenty-four hours late in paying a gambling debt. It was still very doubtful whether Redebas would have the five thousand thalers he had just won from Brandow lying on his desk by to-morrow noon.

Gotthold had tried in vain to interrupt his loquacious companion, and was therefore not at all displeased when the latter, after stammering a few incoherent words, suddenly relapsed into silence, and leaning back in his corner seemed to wish to sleep off his intoxication. Gotthold spread his own travelling-rug over his knees, turned up the collar of his overcoat, and gazing out into the darkness, resigned himself to his thoughts. Brandow's conduct was incomprehensible to him also. What could have induced him to insult the Assessor in this way?--a man whose favor he had every reason to keep. Had he been drunk too? But if so, the fit of intoxication must have come upon him very suddenly, and had at all events assumed a singular form--the form of the hatred which veils itself under the garb of cold politeness. Or, had all this concerned him alone? Had he been so anxious to get his enemy out of the house that he had even suffered it to cost him the friendship of the influential man? That was a solution so simple and natural, so unlike the cold calculating man; but if it was not drunkenness, or hate that wishes to satisfy itself, what was it?

And suppose it were hate that desires to satisfy itself at any cost? Suppose this hate was directed towards her, no less than him, nay perhaps even more. Suppose this terrible man wanted to clear the house of guests in order to give free course to his furious hate, to be able to riot in some fell vengeance.

Gotthold half started from his seat, groaning aloud, and then sank back again, reproaching himself for conjuring up such horrible apparitions. That was certainly the most improbable of all. Whatever means he had used the night before to break down the pride of one of the proudest of women, he had conquered, he was master of the situation; he might be satisfied! And was he not? He now knew the secret of coining gold, cunning alchemist that he was; and how soon he might be again in a situation where he would be obliged to make use of his art, that very evening had proved. What becomes of the water you take in your hand? What becomes of the money you give a gambler? Cousin Boslaf had been right.

But the more Gotthold endeavored to push aside the terrible thought as improbable, nay impossible, the more distinctly the scene appeared before his eyes. He saw him creep towards her chamber, cautiously open the door, glide into the room, up to the bed. Merciful Heaven! what was that? He had distinctly heard his name called in a piercing cry of mortal agony.

It was only a trick of his excited fancy, a horned owl perhaps, which, hurled along by the storm on noiseless wings, had swept close over his head, and in its surprise uttered the cry. This, or something of the sort.

Undoubtedly; but fancy continued the cruel sport none the less zealously, and converted the long-drawn howling and hollow roaring of the tempest over the moor, the rustling of the clumps of broom by the wayside, the creaking of the carriage, and the panting of the weary horses, into ghostly voices which muttered terrible words, voices and words such as might be uttered by the shapes which glided through the grayish black twilight over the masses of rock on the moor on the right of the carriage, or flitted on the left through the impenetrable darkness that brooded coldly over the morass.

The road had been gradually ascending for some time, and according to Gotthold's belief, they had almost reached the crest of the hill, when the horses suddenly stopped, snorting violently.

"What's the matter?" asked Gotthold.

Hinrich Scheel's only reply was several violent lashes, which urged the horses onward again, but only a few paces, then they stopped once more, snorting still louder, and pressing backward so that the carriage moved a little down the hill.

"The damned jades!" cried Hinrich Scheel, who was no longer on his seat on the box, but standing on the right of the carriage.

"What is the matter, I say?" cried Gotthold, starting up.

"Nothing at all," shouted Hinrich. "Sit still. The damned jades! This little pull! I'll teach them to shirk. Sit still, we shall be up directly! Damn the whip!"

Hinrich, who had been lashing the horses frantically, now disappeared from the side of the carriage, the frightened animals made a few more bounds forward--suddenly the vehicle leaned towards the left--farther and farther; like a flash of lightning the thought passed through Gotthold's mind, that if the carriage should upset here, it would undoubtedly fall sixty feet down the slope into the morass; he already had his hand on the back to swing himself out on the right, but would not save himself without his companion. But the latter did not rise, did not even stir. He seized him to drag him out of the carriage. Too late! There was a dull roaring, rushing, rattling, as if the earth itself was opening to engulf carriage, horses, and men; a whizzing sound in their ears--a terrible shock, a falling, rolling, crashing,--another crashing, rolling, shattering, and then--the horror was over!


In the large comfortable room adjoining the office, in the subdued light of a beautiful lamp--the companion to which was burning on a side-table at the end of the room--sat Frau Ottilie Wollnow and Alma Sellien; Ottilie engaged in sewing; while Alma leaned back in the sofa corner, with her slender hands resting idly in her lap. Before the ladies, on a high-backed chair drawn forward in the light, stood Gotthold's picture of Dollan, at which Alma from time to time threw one of her languishing glances. If the gentlemen came back that evening, she wanted to give Gotthold a pleasant surprise by showing him the interest she took in his work, and therefore the picture, which had just been taken down at her request, must remain in its present position.

"I am only afraid it may slip down and get injured," said Ottilie; "and besides, I am not at all sure they will come back this evening."

"I don't know what their return has to do with my enjoyment of art," answered Alma, shading her eyes with her hand, and looking at the picture with an evident increase of interest. "In what bold relief these beeches stand in the foreground! how easily the eye glides over the fields in the centre, and lingers there in refreshing repose, ere it turns with delight to the brown moor on the left, or wanders longingly towards the dim blue horizon bounded by the sea! He is really a great artist."

Ottilie laughed. "And do you mean to say all that to him?"

"Why not?" answered Alma. "I like to give every one his due."

"Especially when the 'every one' is a man so attractive as Gotthold."

"I have only seen and spoken to him five minutes this morning."

"And that has been enough to completely win the heart of such a subtle connoisseur. Confess, Alma, you are fascinated, and now see that our poor Cecilia must not be judged so very harshly, even if she really did have the misfortune to think such a man attractive."

"You know my views in regard to these things are very strict," replied Alma; "yes, very strict, though you do choose to open your eyes in astonishment. But to speak frankly, it is a matter of perfect indifference to me what your poor Cecilia thinks or doesn't think; only I would rather not despair of the good taste and good sense of the men, and that I certainly should do if such a man was so deluded as to think your poor Cecilia charming."

"Why, Alma!"

"Pray, my dear Ottilie, allow me to have and retain my own opinion on this point. Tell me instead--for it interests me, now that I have become personally acquainted with him--what you know of his former circumstances. Hugo declares he is almost a millionaire. Is he really so rich, and how did he get the property? Hugo says it is a very mysterious story--but he always says that when he can give no information about a thing. What is it?"

"Nothing at all," replied Ottilie; "I mean nothing at all mysterious; but the story is a sad one; I could not help crying when Emil related it to me a short time ago--he had never spoken of it before!"

And Ottilie Wollnow wiped away the tears that already hung on her dark lashes.

"You make me terribly curious," said Alma; "how can a story be sad which finally results in half a million?"

"It is probably not so much so now," said Ottilie; "besides, you must not ask me for any particulars, for Emil's story was very--what shall I say--very general--for reasons I hinted to you this morning, and I--from the same cause--did not venture to ask him for any farther details. We must always respect all such old German favors, and seem to think them true and genuine."

"Old German favors?" asked Alma in astonishment.

Ottilie laughed. "That's what I call our husbands' reminiscences of their old love affairs, which they treasure with such ludicrous emotion, and, so to speak, always wear secretly under their coats, in order not to shame us by their brilliancy, for we are really good, excellent wives; but how could we bear any comparison with these heroines? In this case, to be sure--"

"Excuse me for interrupting you, dear Ottilie, but you were going to tell me how Gotthold got his fortune."

"It is all closely connected," replied Ottilie; "the German favor, I mean my good Emil's old flame and Gotthold's mother, is one and the same person; but to be sure Emil declares I always begin my stories at the end, so now by way of exception I'll commence at the beginning. But how am I to do it?"

"Perhaps by stating who the lady you have mentioned really was."

"You always hit the nail on the head! Certainly, who was she? The only child of her parents; her father was Reginald Lenz, a rich merchant in Stettin--I have forgotten her mother's name; but she must have been a dear, sweet creature, and loved her husband passionately, too passionately perhaps. He was probably a very attractive man--he always went by the name of 'handsome Lenz,' and such people are spoiled: the merry bachelor life is continued after marriage; a few unlucky speculations may have happened also; in a word, Herr Lenz failed at the end of a few years, or stood on the verge of bankruptcy, and the books did not balance as they ought; he would not survive the disgrace, and--it is terrible to think of--he took a cheerful farewell of his young wife to go out hunting, and clear his head after reckoning so many figures, as he said, and in the evening they brought him home with his brains dashed out. Was it not terrible?"

"Go on," said Alma.

"Ah! the rest is almost as bad. The young wife, who had had no suspicion of her husband's situation--or she would not have let him leave her--saw the body without the slightest preparation. An hour after--the unhappy woman was daily expecting the birth of another child--she was attacked by a violent fever, and in a few days was a corpse."

"How imprudent," said Alma.

"The little five-year-old Marie--"

"An ugly name," observed Alma.

"I don't think so; at any rate its bearer was anything but ugly, Emil says; and to speak frankly, I am sure that in this respect he does not exaggerate, and the little lady, who naturally in the course of years grew up to maturity, really possessed all the admirable qualities which turned the head of the poor young fellow, who was then only twenty. And he was not alone; all the other young men employed in the business fared just the same. I forgot to say, or was just going to tell you, that the poor little orphan had been received in her uncle's house, the brother of her unhappy father, but a man who was exactly his opposite in every respect; plain, stern, pedantic, an excellent business-man of the old school, as Emil says, who had entered his counting-room and at that time risen to be head clerk. His wife was wonderfully well suited to him, that is, she was not one whit less plain, or less strict and pedantic, so the poor little girl could not have found the house exactly a bed of roses."

"In spite of all her admirers?"

"In spite of all her admirers. She inherited it from her father, who always aimed too high."

"Perhaps she did not know what she wanted."

"That is possible; at any rate, none of the young men found favor in her eyes, though Emil was slightly preferred; but only, he says, because he was the only Jew in the Christian establishment, and therefore in some degree rebuffed by the others--the position of the Jews thirty years ago, you must know, was even more precarious and uncomfortable than it is now, although even now everything is perhaps not quite what it should be. At any fate, she treated the man worst whose outward circumstances entitled him to the most consideration--namely, her cousin Eduard, the only son of the house, a quiet, shy young man, who loved her passionately. Emil says that even now it makes the tears come into his eyes when he thinks of the time that Eduard, who was his most intimate friend, spoke of what he suffered, not in pompous, high-sounding words, which would not have been at all like him, but so gently, so resignedly--"

"I can't bear these gentle, resigned men," said Alma.

"They seldom succeed, as poor Eduard's example shows. But to be sure, she refused very different people, who were by no means gentle and resigned--officers, barons, and counts: she was the wonder of the city, and the idol of all the young men, and she noticed them no more than the sun heeds the mist."

"You are really getting poetical," said Alma.

"It is one of Emil's comparisons, he always grows poetical when he speaks of her--till at last the right one came."

"The country Pastor. Gracious Heavens! _Tant de bruit pour une omelette_," said Alma.

"Excuse me, it was nothing of that sort; on the contrary, he was a very remarkable man, who had turned the heads of as many women as she had men. And it was not confined to women; many men, and those by no means the least important, were also very enthusiastic about him, among others, my Emil, who since he was baptized on our wedding-day, has not set foot inside of a church, but then, Jew as he was, attended regularly every Sunday the service held by the young Substitute--I believe that's what they call them. The whole city went, he says; people stood at the doors, and even outside, just to see him come in. In a word, this young preacher was the right man. How they became acquainted with each other I don't know, and it is of no consequence. To see and love each other was the same thing. Her foster-parents, who on Eduard's account were glad to get her out of the house, of course gave their consent at once, although the little parish here in Rammin on which they married was a place to starve rather than live in. So they left Stettin, and came here, and--"

"The story ends," said Alma, "as all stories which begin in such a remarkable manner usually do--in commonplace poverty. But I don't see yet from all this how Gotthold got his half million."

"It is not a half million," replied Ottilie; "about a hundred thousand, Emil thinks, and from whom should he get it but the good Eduard, who would never marry, though the rich heir, of course, could have made the most brilliant matches, but remained faithful to his early love as long as he lived, and on his death-bed left a portion of his property to benevolent institutions, and the remainder to his cousin's son as his nearest heir."

"It must have been a very pleasant surprise," said Alma.

"Undoubtedly, although I must say that no real blessing attends the money. To be sure, he is now a rich man, or at least well to-do; but what personal benefit does he get? Scarcely any. Ten thousand thalers or so were invested in Emil's business before our marriage; since then, thank God, he has needed no stranger's money, and he has never troubled himself about them; the rest he has left in the business in Stettin, which is carried on by one of the partners of the old firm, and where it is by no means safe; but he doesn't even touch the interest, except to aid needy artists, or encourage struggling young men by enabling them to go to the Academy, take a journey to Italy, or something of that sort. Well, he doesn't need it; he easily earns as much as he wants, and moreover is such a thoroughly good man that he likes to befriend others, but I think he has already made up his mind what to do."

"What?" asked Alma.

"Why doesn't he marry? He has certainly had the best opportunities, and he is twenty-eight years old! I fear, I fear he will remain a bachelor like his foster-uncle in Stettin, and--for the same reason. And as for the money, I think I know what will become of that too. After what we heard this morning about Brandow's circumstances, it would be very well invested; for poor Gretchen probably will not inherit much from her father and mother."

"He won't be such a fool!" exclaimed Alma.

"People said just the same about good Eduard Lenz. And I think, I think--but you must not betray me when your husband returns--I think a part of his property went into Brandow's hands to-day."

"Did your husband tell you so?"

"In that case I should be sure of it; the idea of Emil's chattering--but you don't know him. It's all my own idea, but we shall ascertain when the gentlemen come home to-morrow."

"I told them when they went away that I should expect them without fail this evening," replied Alma, looking at the picture through her hand, and mentally repeating the words with which she intended to receive Gotthold.

"Why, there they are already!" cried Ottilie as the door-bell rang.

"It must be your husband back from his club."

"He does not ring," answered Ottilie; "besides, it is not his step."

Ottilie, with a "come in," went towards the door, at which they now heard a knock. Alma leaned back in the sofa corner with her head a little bent, in the act of displaying her white hands to the best possible advantage, when she was startled from her _pose_ by a low exclamation from Ottilie.

"Herr Brandow!"

"Pardon me, Madam, pardon me, ladies, for presenting myself unannounced in the absence of a servant. I hope you will bear with me a few minutes, and help me to carry out a little joke I want to play upon our friends."

He bowed; Ottilie gazed at him in astonishment, even terror. Herr Brandow did not look like a person who is trying to carry out a jest; his face was pale and haggard, his long fair moustache disordered, his dress a strange mixture of evening and riding costume, and splashed with mud to his shoulders. And to come in this plight, at this late hour, to a house where he was a stranger, nay, which had actually been closed against him for years--Ottilie had only one explanation of all this.

"Has any misfortune happened?" she exclaimed.

"Misfortune," said Brandow; "none that I am aware of; or yes, the misfortune that I have treated my friends a little uncivilly. The rudeness was very slight, but as I, although a sorely tried man, am not accustomed to this kind of misfortune, I could not rest until I had made the attempt to rehabilitate myself in my own eyes, to say nothing of my friends, who have doubtless already forgiven me."

"Then they are coming to-night, are they not? I told you so," exclaimed Alma.

"Certainly, and they will be here immediately, in--we will say twenty minutes--yes, twenty minutes. They left Dollan at exactly ten minutes of ten; it is now just half-past; with my powerful horses and so good a driver as Hinrich they will not need more than an hour, in spite of the horrible weather; so in twenty minutes, ladies, we shall hear the carriage drive up."

Brandow had taken out his watch, and did not turn his eyes from it as he made his calculation.

"And you?" asked Alma.

"I myself, dear madam, after parting from the gentlemen, with a want of cordiality I sincerely regret, rode away from Dollan precisely at ten, and just twenty-five minutes after had my horse put into the stable of the Fürstenhof, that is, I was just five times as long in going over the mile and a half from Dollan to the Fürstenhof, as in walking the five hundred steps from the Fürstenhof here."

"You were twenty-five minutes in coming the same distance that will occupy the others an hour!" cried Alma.

"Pardon me; I couldn't go by the same road our friends took across the Dollan moor, or it would have spoiled my surprise. I rode over another that leads through Neuenhof, Lankenitz, Faschwitz, etc. Frau Wollnow doubtless knows the direction--a way quite as long, and certainly as bad, as I unfortunately perceive too late, by the condition of my clothes."

"Oh! how I admire these bold feats of horsemanship!" exclaimed Alma, opening her eyes very wide to express her enthusiasm. "Sit down here beside me, dear Herr Brandow."

She had forgotten the arrangement she had made for Gotthold's reception, and as she pushed the back of the chair with her outstretched hand, the picture slipped down and fell on the floor. Ottilie, who saw it, uttered a loud exclamation. Brandow sprang forward to raise it, but had scarcely cast a glance at it, when he dropped it from his hands with a low cry.

"My poor picture!" exclaimed Ottilie.

"I beg ten thousand pardons," said Brandow. "I see that when a man has ridden a mile and a half in twenty-five minutes, he is not quite master of his limbs."

In fact, he trembled violently as he again took the picture in his hands; nay, he seemed to find it difficult to stand. Ottilie, who noticed it, at last invited him to sit down.

"Shall I not put the picture away first?" asked Brandow.

"On no account!" exclaimed Alma. "I can't part with it, and to you, my dear friend, it must have a double interest. Just see in what bold relief these beeches stand in the foreground. How easily the eye glides over the fields in the centre and lingers in refreshing repose, ere it wanders longingly towards the dim blue horizon of the sea on the right, or turns with delight to the brown moor on the left."

"Oh! certainly, certainly," said Brandow, without looking at the picture; "it is intended for Dollan, isn't it?"

"Intended for Dollan!" exclaimed Ottilie, "why, Herr Brandow, you wanted to buy it yourself. Don't you remember the time when your wife and I were standing before the picture and you came up?"

"Oh! certainly, certainly," said Brandow.

"I would like to bet that the gentlemen are on that brown moor now," said Alma.

"Certainly; to be sure," replied Brandow.

"Impossible!" exclaimed Ottilie, "unless some accident has happened to the carriage, which we do not want to fear."

"Certainly, oh! certainly not," said Brandow, wiping the cold perspiration from his forehead with his handkerchief.

"You are faint, Herr Brandow; let me offer you some refreshments," said Ottilie, ringing the bell, and rising to give her orders to the maid-servant, who instantly entered.

At the same moment Alma leaned forward, and holding out her hand to Brandow, whispered, "My dear friend, how glad I am to see you! What have you done to Hugo? I should think it would be for the interest of us all that you should remain good friends."

Brandow took the little white hand, and hastily raised it to his lips.

"Oh! certainly, certainly, my beautiful friend," he replied, "that is the very reason I am here; it is really nothing at all. I was a little excited by--I--oh! my dear madam, why do you trouble yourself? A glass of wine, if you insist upon it, but nothing else, I beg of you, nothing else."

He had turned towards Ottilie. Alma--threw herself back into the sofa corner, pouting. Brandow's manner was certainly very strange to-day, so cold, not in the least like his usual one. Alma determined to punish him for it when Gotthold came, and to render the pain more severe, resolved to be particularly charming during the few minutes that would intervene.

But the minutes passed, the clock struck eleven, half-past eleven--an hour had elapsed since Brandow's arrival, and still no sound of carriage wheels was heard, nothing but the rustling of the tall poplars in the little square before the house, and the plashing of the rain against the window-panes whenever a pause in the conversation occurred. And it seemed as if the later it grew, the more frequent such pauses became; for Ottilie, contrary to her custom, spoke very little. Alma, as usual, thought it enough to give people, by a gracious smile, permission to amuse her, and Brandow, this evening, was by no means the entertaining companion he was generally considered. The restlessness with which he darted from one subject to another had a feverish haste, his laugh sounded forced, at times he did not seem to notice that not a word had been uttered for some minutes, but sat staring at the picture, until he suddenly started and began to talk again in an extremely loud voice, whose harsh tones jarred upon Ottilie's nerves. Her anxiety increased every moment. She had already risen several times, gone to the window, and pushing aside the curtain, gazed out in the night, which was made, if possible, darker still by the feeble gleam of the tiny flames in the street-lamps.

"I am very anxious," she exclaimed at last, turning from the window.

"It is certainly strange," said Brandow, "it is now ten minutes of twelve; they ought to have been here an hour ago."

"And my husband does not come either," said Ottilie.

"Be glad that he is having a good time," replied Alma. "Are you going already, my dear friend?"

"I will try to obtain some news of them," answered Brandow, who had hastily risen and taken his hat.

"You won't venture out into this darkness again?" cried Alma.

"Why, Alma!" exclaimed Ottilie.

Brandow was in the act of taking leave, when the doorbell rang, a heavy step passed through the counting-room, and Herr Wollnow entered. Ottilie hurried towards him, and in a few words told him how matters stood. Herr Wollnow greeted the late guest with cold politeness. He saw no special reason for being anxious as yet, if Herr Brandow was not.

"But he is," cried Ottilie.

"In that case Herr Brandow would have gone in search of information long ago," replied Wollnow.

"I am anxious, and I am not," said Brandow. "It is certainly a very dark night, and the road is not particularly good in one or two places, but Hinrich Scheel is a remarkably good driver, and--yes, it has just occurred to me--Gustav von Plüggen drove over the same road only a few minutes before our friends."

"Which does not prove that some mischance may not have befallen one or the other party, or perhaps both," answered Wollnow. "I say mischance, ladies, not misfortune, but even a trifling mischance--the breaking of a wheel, or anything of that sort--is no joke on such a night as this; and I am most decidedly in favor of going to meet our friends. I will accompany you, Herr Brandow, if agreeable to you."

"Certainly, of course, but I came on horseback," replied Brandow.

"Then we will take a carriage at the Fürstenhof; if anything has happened, a carriage may be useful to them."

Alma thought it very uncivil in the gentlemen to leave the ladies alone at such a moment, while Ottilie gave her husband a shawl, and whispered with a most affectionate kiss, "That's my own good Emil!"

Wollnow had requested the ladies to stay in the room. When the door was closed, he said, "I am sure some misfortune has happened to them; and so are you, are you not?"

His black eyes flashed so strangely, and looked so keen and piercing in the light of the lamp he carried in his hand, that Brandow shrank as if a question on which the result of the whole matter depended had been put to him in a court-room.

"Oh! certainly not, by no means," he faltered; "that is, I really don't know what to think."

"Nor I either," replied Wollnow curtly, putting the lamp on a table near the hall-door, and drawing back the bolt.

The light fell brightly upon the door, and as Wollnow opened it darkness yawned outside. Suddenly against the black background appeared a figure at the sight of which even the calm Wollnow trembled, while Brandow, who was directly behind him, staggered back with a low cry--the figure of a man, whose clothing was drenched with water and besmeared with sand and clay as if he had just risen from the earth, and whose pale face, framed in its dark beard and shaded by a broad-brimmed hat, was terribly disfigured by a narrow stream of blood which ran from his temple across his cheek.

"In Heaven's name, Gotthold, what has happened?" exclaimed Wollnow, holding out both hands to his friend, and drawing him into the house.

"Where are the ladies?" asked Gotthold in a low tone.

Wollnow motioned towards the sitting-room.

"Then keep them away. Sellien is in the Fürstenhof, we have just bandaged his wounds, he is still unconscious; Lauterbach despairs of his recovery. I thought it would be better for me to bring the news. You here, Brandow?"

Brandow had recovered his composure; it was absurd that he should have been so unnecessarily anxious. The scoundrel had as many lives as a cat, and what did he care for the other?

"I have been waiting here for you almost two hours," said he. "But how could such an accident have happened? Poor Gotthold, and that good fellow Sellien! I must see how he is. You will probably remain here now, and you also, Herr Wollnow."

Without waiting for a reply, he rushed out and disappeared in the darkness.

Wollnow's eyes flashed as he looked after him, but he repressed the words that seemed trembling on his lips.

"And you, my dear Gotthold?"

"I have got off so," said Gotthold. "But what is to be done now? How shall we tell his wife?"

"I should like to see him myself first. They know I was going to meet you, and will not miss me."

"Then come."

The two friends went out. Wollnow gave Gotthold his arm. "Lean on me," said he; "lean firmly, and don't speak."

"Only one thing. The ten thousand thalers Sellien had with him are lost. We did not notice it until we were cutting off his coat here."

"How can they be lost if you were obliged to cut off his coat?"

Gotthold made no reply; the faintness which he had already several times scarcely been able to conquer, once more stole over him, and he was obliged to lean very heavily on Wollnow's arm.

Thus, not without considerable difficulty, they reached the Fürstenhof, where everything was in the greatest confusion, but did not see Brandow again. The host said that he had ordered his horse to be saddled as soon as he heard of the news of the loss of the money, and then rode away without seeing the Assessor. He could do no good here, he said; but the money would scarcely be found without him.

"Nor with him perhaps," muttered Wollnow.

There had been no change in the Assessor's condition.

"If he does not recover his senses soon, we have no hope of saving the patient," said Doctor Lauterbach.

The physician soon had two patients. Gotthold fell fainting upon Sellien's bed.

"I said so," observed the Doctor; "it's a miracle that he has held out so long. It is really a bad accident."

"If it is an accident," muttered Wollnow.


Herr Wollnow and his wife now spent days and nights of ceaseless care. It had proved possible to move the Assessor, in spite of his serious injuries, to their house, where he was much more comfortably situated in every respect, while Gotthold, who in comparison was scarcely considered wounded, they were obliged to leave at the Fürstenhof. He had lain for hours, either unconscious or tossing in the wildest delirium, a prey to violent fever; the doctor shook his head gravely, and spoke of a concussion of the brain, which was not impossible, or some internal injury, which was extremely probable. Herr Wollnow was very anxious, and spent every moment he could spare by the bedside of the invalid.

"The Assessor's case is really very simple," said he; "he has broken his left leg, and put his right arm out of joint; the arm has been set, and the leg is going on admirably. I'm not anxious about the Assessor, whom you ladies will soon set to rights; but with Gotthold it is different; we don't yet know exactly where we are; I can't be spared there."

Ottilie thought he would have believed it impossible for him to be spared from Gotthold's side, under any circumstances, but she had nothing to say against a preference she herself shared; Gotthold already seemed like her own son.

Herr Wollnow received this remarkable confession with a smile, and the same rather melancholy smile flitted over his grave face again and again, as he sat beside the sick man's bed, stroked the soft wavy hair from his burning brow, and compared the delicate features, now deadly pale and anon flushed with fever, with those of another face, which had once seemed to him the type and expression of all beauty, and whose memory his faithful heart had kept so loyally.

And many strange thoughts, evoked by this recollection, passed through his mind as he sat in the quiet room through the long silent hours,--thoughts which approached caressingly, and he repelled because they sought to remove him from the firm ground on which he had placed himself and his house, and where he must stand resolutely if he did not wish to become the sport of the winds and the waves, with all that had been entrusted to his care. No, no; it beseems not only God to pronounce what He has created good, but man must also be permitted to say so of his works, must be able to say so, if he is to preserve the strength and courage needed to guard what he has made. He had chosen his own part; no matter whether he had taken the worse or better, he had chosen it, and in those words all was said. Those are not the best, but the worst men, who wish to decide for themselves what has been settled long ago.

But for him, who, according to the number of his years, might be his son--whom he would so gladly--no no! not that, not that; but he loved him because he was so good and noble, loved him as an older man can and may love a younger whom he sees tottering along the same intricate mazes of the path of life, which once drank his own heart's blood--for him nothing was yet decided. Could not the determination be made so that the heart need not pour forth its best blood, ere it was calm enough to understand the lessons of wisdom? How gladly would he have procured him a happiness of which he had himself been deprived! It could no longer be a perfect happiness, under any circumstances--too much had already happened which would cast its shadow athwart the fairest future--but perhaps to him it was the only one possible. After all, there was something in the race, in the old habits of thought and feeling transmitted to their descendants by those ancient Germans, who did not try to improve their wretched homes, but simply gave the matter up, who knew of no other stratagem in battle except that of binding themselves together with chains, and in gambling preferred to be ruined, rather than make any concession to ill-luck. And now he too! the son of such a father, such a mother, who both had been destroyed by this excess of feeling, which will suffer no bargaining and trading. Here also the case was essentially different; a force was involved here which was entirely lacking then, a force which almost seemed to make what he would otherwise condemn as a crime against society, an act of philanthropy--a necessity, and yet in his eyes a sad one.

To be sure, almost everything in regard to this question was still and must remain mere conjecture, at least so long as those who had been the victims of this--accident on the moor were unable to tell what they knew, or what observations they had made before and after. True, at best it was probable that very little weight could be given to the Assessor's statement, since from the little Gotthold had communicated on that first evening, it was evident enough that the former had been incapable of judging of anything; and even now, when he could think and speak clearly again, he persisted in the assertion that he knew nothing, and must have slept until the catastrophe happened. But Gotthold, who, with the delicate perceptions of an artist, must have seen, heard, and noticed everything, could undoubtedly supply materials which a clever investigator would know how to prize.

To be sure, Justizrath von Zadenig, in the neighboring capital of the island, to whose district the case belonged, could hardly be included in this category. The Herr Justizrath saw nothing at all unusual in the event. That carriages might be upset in more or less dangerous places, and pocket-books or such things lost, everybody must admit; and that the road across Dollan moor contained such places was well known, at least to him, Justizrath von Zadenig, who knew the story of the two Wenhof cousins, part of which was connected with Dollan moor, very well, as everybody else did, who, like him, was descended from one of the old island families. The Brandows were not an old family, and the way in which they had got possession of Dahlitz was not exactly justifiable; but they no longer owned it, and Carl Brandow ought not to be called to account for the condition of the Dollan roads, over which three or four generations of Wenhofs had passed to and fro unmolested. That was a thing he, Justizrath von Zadenig, considered quite inadmissible, the more so as the brunt of the trouble would not come upon Brandow, but on his own brother-in-law, the Herr Landrath von Swantenit, of Swantenit, who at the last session of the court had been made responsible for the condition of the high-roads and by-ways. If, however, Herr Wollnow, of whose wisdom and judgment he held the highest opinion, thought that the matter ought to be thoroughly investigated, he would send at once for the Herr Referendar von Pahlen, and even despatch a gensdarme with him, which, always looked particularly official and serious. Surely Herr Wollnow would be satisfied with that.

Herr Wollnow was satisfied, because he had obtained all he could get from the indolent, but in other respects worthy old gentleman; and after he had settled a few other business matters, returned to Prora, where, at the door of the Fürstenhof, he met Carl Brandow, who had ridden in to-day, as usual, to inquire in person about the condition of the invalids.

"Things are going on admirably," he cried, as he saw Herr Wollnow. "His head has been perfectly clear for the last hour. I have not tried to see him, because I thought all excitement ought still to be avoided; but I spoke to Lauterbach, who looks very solemn. He had made up his mind to an inflammation of the brain, and now sees that he'll pull through. Sellien, too, is getting along as well as can be expected; so I can ride home today with a lighter heart than usual. How delighted my wife will be! Perhaps I shall bring her in with me tomorrow. I have Frau Wollnow's permission to do so. Good-by until to-morrow, Herr Wollnow, good by."

"That chestnut gelding's a fine horse," said the groom, looking after him as he galloped away; "but it's nothing at all in comparison to the one he rode Sunday night. That was a splendid animal."

Wollnow's glance had also followed the slight figure, whose seat in the saddle was so firm and graceful. "If he is really the scoundrel I think him, it will be difficult to outwit him at all events. And I must not let Gotthold notice anything; it would excite him terribly, and, for the present, without due cause; at least I must have firmer ground. It would certainly be no child's play: the snare which could catch the knave would need very small meshes."

As his friend entered, Gotthold extended his hand, which, though very white, was entirely free from fever.

"There," said he, "feel it yourself; and now with this clasp let me thank you for your kindness, your affection. I have not been so entirely out of my mind as not to see your face distinctly from time to time, amid all the delirious fancies that oppressed me, and always with the grave pitying expression, which I shall gratefully remember as long as I live."

Gotthold's voice trembled, and tears glittered in his eyes--"It is not the weakness of sickness," said he: "I will frankly confess the truth: it is the power of an emotion which is entirely new to me. I have had so little opportunity to be grateful for the services of love. The person who to others, during their whole lives, stands forth as the image of unselfish, self-sacrificing devotion--my mother--died so early, I scarcely knew her; I was separated from my father by an--as I must believe--impassable gulf, and for ten years have wandered about the world amid a thousand events, a thousand relations, ever in the bustle of society, constantly among, and often even the centre of a large circle of friends, and yet in the inmost depths of my soul alone--alone, and longing for a love which so late in life has been given me by a man whom I saw a few days ago for the first time, and between whom and myself no relations had previously existed save those of the most ordinary business transactions."

The merchant's grave dark face expressed keen emotion, and his deep voice sounded strangely low and gentle as he said after a short pause:

"And suppose that we did not meet a few days ago for the first time; suppose I had held you in my arms when you were a boy four or five years old; suppose the interest I took in you sprang from a much deeper source than our business relations, was connected with all the poetry and beauty of my life: what then, my dear young friend, what then?"

"Did you know my mother?" asked Gotthold, with a sudden presentiment; "you must have known her."

"I knew and--loved her. To know and love her was in those days the same thing to me, nay, even at this moment they still seem to belong together, like light and warmth."

"And my mother--loved you. Speak frankly, and explain the mystery that has always rested upon the relations between my parents."

Wollnow shook his head. "No, no," said he, "that is not it; even if it seemed so for a moment, it was only seeming, and it is the sorrowful pride of my life that I did not allow myself to be dazzled by this semblance; that through it I perceived the rugged path duty and honor commanded me to tread."

"You increase the mystery instead of dispelling it," said Gotthold.

"So many things in this drama have remained mysterious, even to me," replied Wollnow, covering his eyes with his hand; "but one fact is plain, that a man of your father's stamp, so highly gifted, so glowing with the holy passion of truth, could not fail to arouse an overmastering love in the heart of your no less gifted, no less enthusiastic mother. I assure you, my friend, if ever there was a love such as you described a short time ago, it was that which impelled these two rare, beautiful natures towards each other, like two flames which rush together into one. Any one who witnessed the spectacle stood in silent admiration, saying: No other conclusion is possible. My poor dear friend said so, though it was a death sentence to him; I said so too, and thought my heart would break; but it was stronger than I believed, and then--I was determined to live! With that determination one can do so, my friend, although it is at first a very wretched, pitiful fragment of life."

Wollnow paused, for he felt that he could not go on calmly. After a short time he continued:

"I am not now in a condition to judge whether I have erred in allowing myself to be led on to make this confession to you, but I should certainly wrong the memory of your parents, you, my dear young friend, nay, myself, if I did not now tell you all, although the all is but little, and this little terribly significant of the sad uncertainty of human destiny.

"The handsome young couple came here. I saw them again by accident a few years after, when business chanced to bring me into this neighborhood, for I would have gone out of my way to avoid a meeting which could only cause me pain. But as I drove through Rammin, one of the wheels of my carriage broke directly in front of the parsonage. I was thrown out so violently that I dislocated my arm, and was compelled to claim your parents' hospitality for several weeks. You cannot remember me, but I can still see the curly-haired, large-eyed little boy, who played so happily at his mother's side among the beds of asters in the garden in the autumn sunlight, and, thank God, had no suspicion of the meaning of the mournful expression with which the beautiful young mother often gazed over the child's head into vacancy. Alas! for her the flowers did not bloom, the sun did not shine; everything around her was dark, and darkness was within her, in her warm young heart. And it was the same in the ardent heart of the man whom she had once so passionately loved, and who had loved her with equal fervor, who, I am perfectly sure, loved her with no less devotion at that moment, when they already seemed to hate each other, perhaps fancied they did. Oh! my dear friend, I won't preach--I won't begin our late dispute again; but how can I help touching the wound, and saying: 'Here again it was--and in a fatal manner--the want of moderation, which will not be satisfied with things as they are, will not try to make the best of circumstances, but releasing itself from commonplace conditions, strives to realize an ideal vision'? These two beautiful natures, which could offer so much, be so much to each other, considered it nothing because it was not all. She expected him to be not only the champion of the Church before whom she had at first knelt in admiration, but also to possess every virtue the intelligent, much-courted young girl had ever admired in any man. He expected her to wear, in addition to all the charms with which nature had so lavishly endowed her--I know not what mystic crown, without which all earthly beauty was valueless in the eyes of the enthusiastic apostle. And instead of trying to lessen the necessary differences between their natures as much as possible by gentleness and patience, and overlook the remnant which would still be left, out of respect for the Great Power of which we are only an infinitesimal part, both with fatal defiance increased their special gifts; he wanted to do nothing but see and read obscure writings by a glass; she, who had always been far too proud to be vain, declared that the glass told her nothing except that she was young and beautiful, as the world was, in spite of all fanatics and devotees. And now this strange conflict went on in the quiet parsonage of a little village, on an island which in those days was almost entirely secluded from all intercourse with the outside world--what marvel was it that the two unhappy combatants bled from painful wounds--and must bleed to death if they are not separated in time, the world thinks and says in such cases. I am well aware of it, but I did not think so. I said to myself: 'These two cannot forget or lose each other, even if they should place a world between them, and next to themselves the person would suffer most who might be mad enough to aid this separation.' I said this also to the young wife, who could not or would not conceal her misery from me. I spoke to her--as I thought my duty required me to do--with earnest entreaty, and I must confess that in so speaking I drowned, not the voice of my conviction, but of my own heart, which during this strange scene seemed as if it would burst my laboring breast. Now, for the first time, I learned that before the right man came I had been dearer to the beautiful girl than I had ever ventured to hope or suspect--learned it in broken words and hints which rose from her glowing, passionate heart like sparks from a blazing fire. How can I deny that I was touched by this fire, that it became inexpressibly difficult for me to withstand it? Yes, my friend, I struggled like the patriarch of old on that wondrous night, and from my heaving breast, like his, the magic words were gasped forth, 'I will not let thee go, except Thou bless me.'

"And was it no blessing that some trace of the repose I had won by so fierce a conflict seemed to calm the soul of the despairing young wife, that she--which in such a situation is everything--found time to regain her self-control, to remember what she had once possessed, to ask herself whether she might not possess it again if she desired. I can still see the look with which she extended her hand as she bade me farewell, the earnest, expressive glance in which a gleam of hope still sparkled. I can still hear her sweet voice utter the words which were the richest reward to me for all I had done and suffered, the words: 'I thank you, my friend.'"

"And I thank you," said Gotthold, seizing the hand of the deeply-agitated man, and pressing it warmly, "thank you with all my heart, for you have acted according to your sincere conviction, and what can a man do more? But you did not save my poor mother from dying of a broken heart."

Wollnow looked gloomily at the floor. Gotthold, smiling sadly, continued:

"To be sure, it is better to die so, to die young, than to live on with a broken heart, to the torment instead of the joy of one's self and others, as was the fate of my poor father. And he cannot have become reconciled to my mother's shade. Else why, when he pushed me from him in anger, did his pale lips murmur: 'You are just like your mother'? No, no, my friend, I honor your wisdom, but I think one must be born wise--it is not to be learned."

"At least in one lesson," said Wollnow, with grave kindness, "and this has lasted long enough--too long, when I consider the condition of the pupil."

Gotthold protested against this decision; he felt perfectly well, and strong enough to continue the argument a long time; besides, the subject had a demoniacal charm for him.

"And for that very reason we will drop it," replied Wollnow, "and instead, if you are really strong enough, I will request you to answer a few questions in relation to your unlucky drive. I will confess that I put them partly at the desire of a prominent magistrate. At least, Justizrath von Zadenig declares that no farther steps can be taken in this disagreeable matter without your deposition, and has begged me to take it down in a legal form."

Gotthold looked up in astonishment--"What is the point in question?"

"It concerns, in the first place, the lost money, which must, if possible, be recovered," replied Wollnow.

"Poor Sellien! I am sorry for him," said Gotthold; "but I don't see how your questions and my answers can aid in its recovery."

"Let us see. Do you know that Sellien had the money with him when you left Dollan?"

"I am sure of it; as he did not suspect it came from me, he told me in a walk we took after dinner that Brandow had paid him, and showed me the packet, which he took out of the breast-pocket of his coat. I also saw it there during the whole evening--not without some little anxiety. I feared he might be tempted to stake the money. Fortunately he always won."

"So he was gambling. Who was the loser?"


"Did he lose much?"

"I think he lost five thousand thalers to Redebas, who was the only person that had the courage to make a stand against so rash an adversary."

"Of course he did not pay him on the spot."

"Certainly not; and from that very circumstance arose the quarrel which ended in the others leaving the house in a rage."

"Did you take any part in the dispute?"

"Oh, no; Sellien perhaps was a little mixed up with it; at least Brandow made it the pretext for the rudeness that drove us also from the house."

"Drove you out of the house! Very good," said Wollnow, when he had made a written record of the words. "And Sellien still had the money when you went away?"

"I felt the packet when I buttoned his overcoat; he was then partially intoxicated."

"And the overcoat was still buttoned when Lauterbach wanted to bandage his injuries here. So you said a short time ago, and Lauterbach confirms it. Did you make no attempt to remove his clothes at the smithy?"

"No. Old Prebrow wanted to do so, but Sellien, who came to his senses for a moment, begged so earnestly to be let alone, that we desisted, and contented ourselves with making him as comfortable a bed as we could on some straw and hay in the bottom of the wagon the Prebrows had already prepared."

"And did you feel the pocket-book there too?"

Gotthold reflected a moment. "No," said he, "he did not have it there. I remember now, because first the old man and then I myself felt his breast, as he complained of severe pain in his left ribs. I could not have helped feeling the packet. That is certainly strange."

"It is indeed," replied Wollnow, "since neither of the worthy Prebrows, father and son, who carried him from the place where the accident occurred to the smithy, can have taken it out of his pocket."

"Impossible!" exclaimed Gotthold.

"And it is almost equally impossible, though in another sense, that during his fall he can have lost it out of the pocket of a closely-buttoned coat, over which another was buttoned."

"Yet there is no other supposition."

"So it seems. But let us go back a few steps. You had the impression throughout, that Brandow was driving you from the house. Did not that seem strange?"

"No and yes."

"We will suppose that the no refers to your relations with Brandow, and the yes to the Assessor's, whose favor he certainly had the most urgent motives to keep. I confess it is incomprehensible to me. And on such a night too--as King Lear says, 'In storm and rain and darkness'--to drive you out of the house and give you a carriage with no lamps to convey you over such notoriously bad roads."

"All that is true," said Gotthold in an embarrassed tone; "but recurring to Brandow's unfriendliness--which, moreover, he instantly regretted, and tried to make amends for the same evening--will scarcely help us to the recovery of the money."

"You see what an unskilful inquisitor I am," replied Wollnow, passing his hand over his brow. "Let us leave the master, and without regard for the old adage, turn to the man. Was he not the same one who drove you out in the morning?"

"The same. Brandow's trainer, and as you see, occasional coachman, steward also, in a word, factotum."

"Factotum, very good," said Wollnow. "A do-everything, in contrast to always doing right, for this Signer Do-everything seems to fear nothing and no one, at least that was the impression he made upon me. What do you think of the man?"

"That he is a remarkable fellow, so far as this, that any one who had seen him once would hardly forget him. I remember him perfectly from the time I first knew him, years ago, till now: the square flat head, and low retreating forehead of the large animals of the cat tribe, to which his green squinting eyes also bear a resemblance, while his broad shoulders, short, thick-set figure, and clumsy bow legs are more like the dog tribe--a cross between the terrier and bull-dog, whose tenacity and faithfulness he also possesses. I believe he would go through fire and water for his master."

"And water," said Wollnow. "What wonderful eyes you artists have! How dear that description is! And now we have this estimable monster, this faithful Caliban, on the front seat of the carriage, driving through the darkness. What about the ride?"

"I have frankly confessed that, until just before the accident, I noticed little or nothing of what was passing around me. But I remember now that we ascended the hill with difficulty, probably because the wind was directly against us, and Hinrich Scheel, with his usual cruelty, violently lashed the poor horses, which seemed to have a presentiment of their fate, and would not move from the spot until Hinrich at last jumped out of the carriage."

"Jumped out of the carriage," repeated Wollnow; "that was very wise, very apropos; for the fall occurred directly after, didn't it?"

"It must have taken place at that very moment."

"Let us say a few moments after, otherwise the faithful Caliban would have been obliged to join the party. The fall you have already described to me, so far as you were conscious of the precise moment--and it is astonishing how far an artist's observation extends to the gates, nay, I might say across the very threshold of death. And how long did this terrible moment, when you were so near your end, last?"

"I can hardly say; I became unconscious without pain or struggle, as quickly and imperceptibly as the lid falls over the eye; and in the same manner, without the slightest struggle, my senses returned, and I lay with my eyes fixed upon the moon, watching the yellowish brown clouds over her face grow thinner and thinner--as if I had nothing else to do--until her rays suddenly pierced the last transparent veil, and shone in their full brilliancy. At the same moment the consciousness of my situation returned, and I knew as well as if some one had told me that I had remained lying on a ledge about half way down the slope, while the carriage and horses, sliding down the precipice to the edge of the morass, were lying in one confused, terrible heap, amid which I could distinguish nothing. After this, I must have again fallen, not into an unconscious condition, but a sort of delirious state. I had a distinct vision of a horseman, who, with a speed that only occurs in dreams, dashed away from me across the marsh in the direction of Neuenhof. Like the traditional ghostly rider, he had his head bent far over the long thin neck of his flying steed, and wore a tall hat. A ghost in a tall hat, isn't it ridiculous?"

"Very ridiculous!" said Wollnow. He had risen from his seat again, and gone to the window to conceal his agitation from Gotthold. What was that the groom had said just now about the remarkable speed of the horse Brandow had ridden that night? And the spectral rider had dashed in the direction of Neuenhof, from whence Brandow had come!--Brandow, who strangely enough had worn a tall hat that night, and the tall hat was splashed with marshy water.

Wollnow turned to Gotthold again: "Do you think it impossible for any one, I mean any one of flesh and blood, to cross Dollan marsh, even on the best and fastest horse?"

"What put that into your head?" asked Gotthold in amazement.

"Oh! nothing, except that Brandow has been telling everywhere that one of the horses which broke away from the carriage and tried to make its escape across the morass was drowned in the attempt."

"Then that is surely the best proof of the impossibility."

"Certainly," replied Wollnow; "and now you must have perfect quiet, or Lauterbach will be very angry. I will come back again in two hours; until then you must sleep undisturbed."

Wollnow spent the two hours in a restless, impatient mood, of which the calm, self-possessed man would not have believed himself capable. He was expecting the young lawyer, who had promised to stop in Prora on his return from Dollan and tell him the result of his investigations. Herr von Pahlen had left B. two hours before him, and might surely have executed his commission by this time. The expected visitor arrived at last, but without the gendarme Herr von Zadenig had ordered to attend him to give a suitable coloring to the affair.

"This is a very strange business," said Herr von Pahlen. "You know I went ostensibly to take the deposition of the man who drove the gentlemen, Hinrich Scheel; at least he was the principal person, and now would you believe it--"

"The man had disappeared," said Wollnow.

"How did you know?"

"I only thought so; but go on."

"Had actually disappeared," continued Herr von Pahlen, "although half an hour before our arrival he had been seen by the laborers on the estate, and also by Herr Brandow, who had just returned home. He had disappeared and could not be found, although Herr Brandow was kind enough to send men in every direction, who as Herr Brandow himself said, must have found him if--"

"The man had wanted to be found."

"Exactly, but how stupid in the fellow, who, after all, is not to blame, except for having taken for the journey the two worst beasts among the many good ones, in order to spare the carriage-horses. It is from this cause Brandow says, as he now looks at the matter, that the whole misfortune arose. To be sure, if the fellow has really fled--I have left Rüterbusch there for the present, who will arrest him if he makes his appearance--the case assumes a very different aspect. The fellow will suggest the inference that he either found the money, God knows how, or took it out of the Assessor's pocket while he was senseless, and now, being conscious of his guilt, fled when he saw us coming--and one can see a long distance over the moor. Brandow, who was very much astonished, said that he should have attributed such a crime to any one rather than this man, who had always been highly esteemed by his father, and since his death had served him faithfully and honestly, but admitted that the sudden disappearance was very mysterious; and after all everything was possible; at any rate, the possibility could not now be denied that the poor devil might have yielded to the great temptation of becoming a rich man at one stroke."

"A devil always feels tempted to do evil, even if he is not poor," said Wollnow.

"So you think he has stolen it," asked the lawyer eagerly.

"I have nothing to do with the matter," replied Wollnow evasively, while his dark eyes flashed with an expression that seemed to say that for all that he did have an opinion in regard to the affair, and a very decided one.


Gotthold had left Prora for Sundin as soon as his health permitted, although Ottilie declared that the Prora air was infinitely better for a convalescent, and he could complete the promised picture just as well here as there. Nay, she had even announced herself ready to give up the present entirely, if their friend could not be induced to stay on any other terms; but her husband had again differed from her in opinion.

"We ought not to try to detain one who wants to go," said he, "or we must be responsible for all the results that may proceed from his stay, and that I have no inclination to do in this case. I am sincerely attached to the young man, as he deserves, and wish him from my heart all the happiness he deserves; but I don't exactly see how he could obtain it upon this path. And in this I have not clung to the views you know I hold regarding marriage. I would be reconciled to all possible concessions, if Gotthold could be helped. But that cannot be done yet. The only way to remove the obstacles from his path is such a terrible one, that, from my knowledge of his nature, he will shudder to use it if matters ever go far enough. At present they have not reached that point."

"I shall take care not to rack my brains over this mystery," cried Ottilie; "only let me ask one question, to which I beg you to give me a plain, straightforward answer: Does Gotthold know of this expedient?"

"I have not mentioned it to him, but it is possible that, with his penetration, he has hit upon it himself."

However little satisfaction Ottilie had derived from this very vague information, she had not been able to doubt that Gotthold really wished to go away, and even her husband's persuasion would hardly have detained him.

Gotthold had hurried off with the impetuosity of one who fancies some magic spell has been cast over him, and strives to break it, cost what it may. And had not an enchanted ring been woven around him from the moment he had entered his native island, and been driven by the companion of his boyhood, without recognizing him, through his native fields? Good Jochen Prebrow! He certainly bore very little resemblance to a Mercury, and yet with him had commenced the succession of marvels which had taken place during the last few days, which had now shown him a heavenly face and now a fiendish grin; now refreshed him with nectar and ambrosia, and anon strewn ashes on his tongue.

"I should be the most miserable creature on earth if you did not understand me!"

The words constantly rang in his ears--the words and the anxious tone in which she had uttered them, as if from the depths of the wretchedness into which she would sink without hope of deliverance, if he did not understand her. She and he! Was not doubt misunderstanding, and were not doubt and despair one and the same thing in this case?

Had he understood her?

It was in the middle of the night, when Gotthold started from a troubled sleep, that the meaning of the mystery had appeared before his soul, as if born of the darkness: there was one thing, and only one, which she could not, dared not do: go while her child remained, remained in the power of this fiend; and by this one thing the fiend had forced her to obey his will. And force her to go he can and will, will apply for the dissolution of a marriage bond she has broken--or would she, the proud woman, deny it? Deny upon oath, in a court of justice, that she had ever rested in the arms of her friend? Repeat in the court-room, before the world, the yes which in his presence she had long since changed to an inflexible no? Very well, then the breach of faith was proved, the marriage dissolved, the child would be taken from the guilty parent, and given to the one who was innocent of blame!

Then, with a sneering laugh, he had repeated to her the shameful formula, with which the next morning, in the presence of her lover, she was to degrade herself to a level with the lowest--must do so if he did not see through the fiendish plot, if he did not understand her!

Thank God, he understood her now! But how she must have suffered! How she must suffer still!

And was this state of things to continue? Never, never. Now that he had at last penetrated his enemy's base game, he must win the victory. If he had allowed himself to be paid with money for the shame of knowing that his wife's heart belonged to another, how far would not his venality extend? But he would sell everything--honor, wife, and child. Why had he not disposed of all at once, since he knew any price would be paid that came within the means of the buyer? Did he wish to increase the value of his wares by selling them separately? Or was there, even for him, a limit which he could not pass? Inconceivable. Or was his hatred towards his rival greater than his avarice? Did he carry the refinement of cruelty so far as only to mutilate his victim, in order to exult in her agony?

It was certainly very probable from such a man, but how long would this spendthrift and gambler remain in a situation to be able to afford himself so costly a luxury? How soon would necessity compel him to sell off his wares? What had the purchaser to do, except practise a little patience and keep the money ready?

The property which Gotthold had hitherto considered of so little importance, suddenly acquired a priceless value in his eyes, and he felt sorely troubled by the thought that he had entrusted the greater part of it to persons whose honesty was by no means beyond question; at least Wollnow, even when their intercourse had been limited to letter-writing, had repeatedly made such hints, and finally in plain words warned him against the house in Stettin; but Gotthold, out of indifference towards the property, and respect for the name of his dead relative, which had been retained by the firm, had not heeded the warning until Wollnow had recently spoken on this point even more urgently, and said that he must withdraw his money, and there was danger in delay. The banker in Sundin who discounted Wollnow's notes had confirmed the statement of his business acquaintance, and offered him his services, but said it would be better to withdraw it to-day than to-morrow.

Gotthold had intended to do so, but his next visit had been to his protégé, the young artist Bruggberg, whom he found dying, and in the duties of friendship he had forgotten everything else. Then days and weeks of the most sorrowful emotions had followed, during which he could form no resolution. Now he did not need to form any; now he was eager to make up for the delay; but it was too late.

When he entered the banker's office, the latter came to meet him with a very grave face. News had just come from Stettin that Lenz & Co. had failed, in a most unprecedented, scandalous manner; the creditors would not receive five per cent. "I am sincerely sorry," said Herr Nathanson; "I lose a small sum myself, if one can be said to lose what one has given up all hopes of getting long ago; but you are very heavily involved, if I understand you rightly. Did you not have fifty thousand thalers invested there?"

A short time before Gotthold would merely have shrugged his shoulders at such news, and gone back to his work. Now it came upon him like a thunder-clap. By the sum recently borrowed of Wollnow and his present loss, his property was reduced to about one-fourth of its original amount, and even this, strictly speaking, no longer belonged to him. Nay, he need not even be overstrict; it was only necessary not to be faithless to the obligations into which he had entered--obligations to struggling young artists, who had based their hopes of the future on his friendship, to widows and children of his deceased companions in art, who but for him would sink into poverty. What was left him if he paid these debts, as his honor, his heart bade him? Nothing! Nothing except the income from his labor. It was enough and more than enough for himself--but for the insatiate avarice of that spendthrift! He would not be put off with promises, nor accept payments on account, not he!

Gotthold stood helpless before a barrier that towered before him in impassable height, and which neither his anger nor his despair could remove. Of what crime could she be charged, except that young, generous, and confiding, she had allowed herself to be deceived by a villain, and then after long years of terrible, silent agony, had once more breathed freely at the sight of the friend of her youth, and fled to his arms for deliverance? And now she was the guilty one, and this scoundrel, asserting his rights, could mock, torture, kill her unpunished.

Thus anger and love drove him restlessly around in the terrible circle, from which no escape seemed possible unless some means could be found to fasten the crime, before the eyes of all the world, upon the person who was really guilty.

But how could such crimes be proved?

Gotthold started in horror when, while racking his brains over the possibility, he surprised himself in the act of producing this proof. Should he sully his own and Cecilia's honor by revealing the dark secrets, which, under cover of the night, extended from the master's room at Dollan to the little attic chamber of the maid-servant? Never!

And that the spendthrift and gambler would ever venture out of the dark mole-tracks of vice to the comparatively open road of crime was a thought that had also occurred to him; but there were too many probabilities against it. He did not give the scoundrel credit for the courage that always belongs to crime; besides, in that case, Wollnow would probably have expressed some suspicion; Wollnow, who, apparently out of sympathy for the Assessor, and perhaps also from the impulse of his own nature, which every dark problem irritated, had entered into the affair so eagerly, followed with so much care even the smallest clew that might lead to the discovery of the lost or stolen money. And, after all, was it not a psychological impossibility, that even a Brandow--if he had been directly or indirectly concerned in the robbery--could quietly clasp the hand of the man he had wronged, as he had done just now, when Gotthold met him engaged in a most animated conversation with the convalescent and his wife. True, the matter had been settled by the trustees of the convent of St. Jürgen, in a manner particularly favorable to Sellien. Under the direction of Alma's father, who presided at the meeting, they decided that the Assessor was not in the least to blame, since, as the agent of the convent, he was authorized, nay obliged, to receive the money, and certainly could not be held responsible for what happened to him on Dollan moor, during and after the fall. So the convent merely set down the ten thousand thalers as lost, "and," Sellien's father-in-law said, "if we were requested to withdraw the warrant for the apprehension of Hinrich Scheel, I, for one, should make no objection. The fellow has escaped long ago, and it is neither for our interest, gentlemen, nor that of my son-in-law, to have the stupid story constantly kept before the people."

Brandow laughed heartily when Sellien, in the most amusing manner, gave an account of the last meeting of the trustees, but was unfortunately obliged to take his leave immediately, as he wanted to go away directly after he had attended another consultation of the racing committee: the seventh within a fortnight! He could not get away from the city at all; but what was he to do? It was everything to him to get the resolution to include a piece of marshy ground in the race-course withdrawn. His Brownlock, which had compared very favorably with the other horses yesterday, was as good a steeple-chaser as could be found; but for the very reason that he had so much power in leaping, required firm ground. "It would be a sin and shame to treat him so; even young Prince Prora has declared it 'indigne.' But I'll pay no forfeit for non-performance of my contract. I'd rather be left sticking in the bog and if necessary drown."

"He is a hero!" Alma Sellien exclaimed, ere Brandow had closed the door behind him, opening her eyes very wide to express her enthusiasm.

"He is a fool," Gotthold muttered to himself, as he walked through the wet, silent streets towards his lodgings; "at least as much fool as knave, and certainly incapable of a deed which, in any sense, requires a man."

On reaching his room, Gotthold found a letter in the firm, even bold hand of Wollnow, now so familiar to him.

The epistle was a lengthy one. Gotthold expected to find news of the Stettin affair, about which a great deal of correspondence had passed between him and his friend during the last few weeks. He was mistaken. His eyes sparkled as, still standing, he glanced rapidly over the pages; then he threw himself into a chair, but instantly started up again, for his resolution was already formed. He hurried to the house where the racing committee met. Herr Brandow, after a violent altercation with one of the gentlemen on the committee, had left the house half an hour before. He went to the hotel where he knew Brandow usually lodged. This time Herr Brandow had not done the hotel the honor; perhaps he had taken a room at the "Golden Lion." The "Golden Lion" knew nothing of Herr Brandow; perhaps the gentleman might be at the "White Rose." Brandow had left the "White Rose" about fifteen minutes before, for home, the head waiter thought, at least he had ordered his luggage to be carried to the ferry-boat.

The next boat left in half an hour. Gotthold had just time to hurry home and put clothing enough to last for a few days into a travelling bag. "It is possible that I may not return for several days," he called to the landlady, and added in an under-tone: "It is possible I may not return at all."


The passage to the island was unusually long that day. A strong head-wind had sprung up; the boat was overloaded with passengers and horses, and they were obliged to tack, cautiously. Conversation among the passengers, most of whom were land-owners and farmers on the island, turned almost exclusively upon the races which were to take place in a few days, and would be the most brilliant ones that had ever been seen. Horses were to come from Silesia, and even Hungary; Prince Prora would probably have taken part in them himself, if he had been admitted. The great public prize was increased to a thousand thalers, but the principal race would be the one between the gentlemen riders. It had at first been supposed that not three of the twenty-four horses registered would appear, since even in May, six, from fear of Herr Brandow's Brownlock, had already paid the forfeit for failing to fulfil their contract; but now the tables were turned, now all wanted to be allowed a place, for it was notorious that Brownlock could not cross the marsh, and then he would be obliged to give up the lead to go round it, and could not recover it again, since there was only one very slight impediment between the bog and the winning-post, and on a free course the other horses could easily cope with him.

So the men, putting their heads together, talked eagerly among themselves, while rain and spray dashed over their broad shoulders, and Gotthold pondered over the letter he carried in his pocket. "Brownlock can't cross the bog, Brandow says so himself;" he had another motive for saying so besides that of stimulating his opponent's desire to bet, as one of the speakers had suggested.

At last the boat reached the opposite shore. Gotthold hurried to the inn to get a carriage to take him to Prora. Herr Peter's three carriages were all away, but one would soon return, nay, ought to have been back now; but he could not depend upon the grooms; the only reliable one he had ever had got married about three weeks ago, one Jochen Prebrow from Dollan, that is, not the estate, but the smithy, near which the accident had lately happened of which the gentleman had probably heard.

"Why, good gracious!" exclaimed Herr Peters, "it's you yourself. I should hardly have known you. You look much paler and thinner than you did three weeks ago, when you passed through here with the Herr Assessor and Herr Wollnow. I was talking the matter over with Herr Brandow a few hours ago. It's a pity you missed the twelve o'clock boat, or you might have gone on with Herr Brandow, who always has his own horses here to meet him. There is no trace of Hinrich Scheel yet; no doubt the fellow has been on his way to America for the last three weeks."

Herr Peters was now obliged to attend to his other guests, whose tall, broad figures crowded the large coffee-room. Gotthold had already seen curious glances directed towards him; probably Herr Peters had pointed him out as the hero of the accident on Dollan moor, which had caused a great deal of talk on, its own account, and now that Brandow's name was in every mouth, was more discussed than ever. So he left the room, which reeked with tobacco-smoke, and wandered about in the pouring rain, until at last, after an hour of impatient waiting, the promised carriage arrived--an old rickety chaise, to which fortunately a pair of fresh horses was harnessed. Herr Peters came out to take leave of him, and say that in consequence of the great demand, he could not have the carriage at the usual price. Gotthold consented to the shameless extortion, and would have given even more to get on.

"I saw what was in the wind at once," said Herr Peters to his guests; "Brandow two hours ago, and now he. Mark my words; they are after Scheel."

"Nonsense," said a fat farmer; "he's gone where the pepper grows long ago."

"I think he has taken his life," observed another.

"Or had it taken," growled a third.

They again put their heads together, even more eagerly than before. That Hinrich Scheel had not reaped the fruits of his crime alone, nay, possibly, had been wholly cheated out of them, was an opinion which had obtained a firm hold upon the public mind, although the rumor had not assumed a definite form. This time also people either could not or would not mention any names; on the contrary, the affair grew darker and darker the longer they talked it over, and the more frequently the thick little glasses filled with a greenish liquid were emptied. Herr Peters looked on well satisfied; it might be doubtful which of the disputants would first call for a bowl of his famous mulled wine; but that the call would be made within the next five minutes was perfectly certain. Herr Peters had already made a signal through the little window that opened into the kitchen to his daughter, who was standing by the hearth.

Meantime Gotthold drove on through the pouring rain, which shrouded the whole landscape in a gray veil that grew denser and denser hour by hour. The wind whistled through the chinks in the leathern curtains, which had been buttoned down to protect the occupants of the chaise from the storm; the crazy old vehicle creaked and groaned whenever--which happened only too often--the wheels on the right or left slipped into the holes of the rough road; but the horses were powerful, and the driver, who expected a liberal fee, was willing, so it rolled forward with tolerable speed, although by no means rapidly enough to suit Gotthold's increasing impatience.

Yet he was compelled to acknowledge to himself, and did so again and again, that there was no sensible reason for his haste, that nothing depended upon one hour more or less, nay, that another hour, which might perhaps mature some definite resolution in his mind, would be welcome. Yet, even while he said so, he leaned forward to shout to the driver that the road was perfectly smooth here, and he might drive faster.

Then he leaned back again into the corner of his little damp prison, drew out Wollnow's letter and gazed at it as if he could not believe any one could write such words as those in a hand so firm, characters so large and clear. And for the second time he read:

"What I have to tell you to-day, my dear friend, is so bad that the most skilful preamble would not make it better. So without any introduction: the upsetting of the carriage on the moor was no unlucky accident, but a shameful crime, of which Brandow was the instigator. Secondly, the money was stolen. The originator of the theft, which might be termed murder, was Brandow again; he was probably present at the time, or else appeared on the scene directly after; at any rate, the fruits of the robbery fell into his hands. Whether the two crimes may to a certain extent be considered one--I mean whether the first was committed that the second might be executed, or whether the second was perpetrated on the spur of the moment, after the first had been performed--I do not know, and probably no one ever will, since it is to be feared that a third terrible crime has resulted from the first two.

"Who betrayed this horror to me? That which is so often the betrayer of crimes--chance.

"A chance than which nothing could be more accidental.

"The money in the packet consisted of hundred, fifty, and twenty-five thaler notes. I had myself, as you know, counted and put up the amount; but of course that would not enable me to positively swear to the identity of any one of the bills, even if it came back to me again. With one, however, I am in a position to do so; the note is once more in my hands, and I can prove in whose possession it has been in the mean time.

"I was obliged to pay out this bill ten years ago at a very critical time--it was the last money I possessed, and in a humorous freak I marked on it the words, 'a lucky journey,' and the date in small, almost microscopical characters, on the upper right-hand corner of its face. Four years ago this same note came back to me. I honored my old friend with the word 'welcome,' which, together with the date, I wrote on the left-hand upper corner of the back, and gave it, as a luck-penny, a place in my pocket-book, where it remained until three weeks ago. You will remember that ready money was rather scarce with me, and I took advantage of the opportunity to punish myself for my superstitious feelings by adding this note to the rest.

"Now, this bill, to whose identity I can swear, Herr Redebas received from Brandow on the day after the accident, as a part of the gambling debt due that afternoon; he left the money in his desk without touching it, until he made me a payment yesterday in which was this very note. I asked Herr Redebas--without telling him my reasons--whether he could swear to this statement if necessary; he answered in some little astonishment, but very positively, that he was ready to do so at any moment.

"Brandow, as is well known, had related here and there, that is, had intentionally spread the report, that the five thousand thalers he paid Herr Redebas at noon had been received in the morning from Jacob Demminer, a produce dealer in this place, as part payment on account of the seven thousand for which he had sold his wheat to him. This statement had nothing improbable in and of itself, and as Jacob Demminer bears the reputation of doing any business by which money can be made, even that of a receiver of stolen goods, there was certainly the shadow of a possibility that the master had received in the morning, in payment for his wheat, the very money of which the man had robbed our friend the night before, and thought he had placed in safety with the worthy Jacob, with whom he had perhaps had business dealings for a long time. I say, there is the shadow of a possibility, for the time was rather short; still, we do not yet know where and how Hinrich Scheel spent the rest of the night, so it might have been.

"The worthy Jacob, however, had not this affair at least on his conscience, but the business Brandow wished to transact with him did not take place either. To be sure Brandow was here that morning, and also in the dark hole Jacob calls his counting-room; he took money away with him, too, but only two thousand thalers, and not for this year's wheat, which he had sold to Jacob months before, but for the next year's harvest. He was obliged to sell at any price, in order to be able to show the money at this time, and he could name any sum without fearing that the worthy Jacob would contradict a customer with whom he did such profitable business. The discovery of this trick was also effected by chance, in the person of a poor young Jew, who had worked several years for the worthy Jacob, and gained his confidence, until now his conscience, or I know not what, suddenly urged him to pour out his heart to me, and implore me to save him from this den of crime.

"Let us recapitulate. Brandow, who on the day of the accident was known to be destitute of money, and received only two thousand thalers the following morning, pays Herr Redebas, at noon, five thousand at one stroke; and among this money is the hundred-thaler note which was in the package that disappeared at the time of the accident.

"Disappeared! Why not lost, found, but not restored to its owner?

"Then it would still have been stolen. But from the beginning it was both a theft and robbery.

"Remember that you felt the package in the Assessor's coat-pocket after you left Dollan; that you no longer felt it at the smithy, and yet the coat you had buttoned was still fastened. This, to be sure, is no positive proof--nay, the latter circumstance at first even seems to be against my supposition. Why, it might be said, should a thief so cunning in all other respects intentionally incur an additional risk? But people may try to be too cunning; and it certainly was not known that you had kept your eye on the package all the evening, and afterwards, when you buttoned the Assessor's coat, even had it under your hand. The defender of the accused will, of course, doubt the correctness of this statement, will--but we are not in a court of justice. To me the fact is plain: the Assessor had the money with him at the time of the fall; afterwards, when the two Prebrows raised the poor fellow, while Henrich Scheel stood by with the lantern, he no longer had it--that is, it had been stolen during the interval.

"By whom?

"Undoubtedly by this very Hinrich Scheel, but very, very probably not by him alone.

"Can Brandow have been present at the time?

"He has taken no little trouble to prove his alibi, even before any proof was asked, and evidently began the affair cunningly enough. He rode here by the way of Neuenhof, Lankenitz, and Faschwitz--that is a fact; the people in the villages heard him dash through; he even took time to talk to several persons he met. If he rode the whole way he cannot have been present at the time the deed was committed; even the best rider on the fastest horse could not do that. But suppose he did not ride the whole way--suppose he turned into the road just above Neuenhof--suppose the spectral horseman whom you saw in your vision dashing across the morass had been a veritable rider of flesh and blood, and this rider had been Carl Brandow.

"You say that is impossible. What is impossible to a man pursued by the furies, if he has a horse under him like the much-praised Brownlock?

"Brandow rode Brownlock that night; the groom at the Fürstenhof swore it, after he saw the racer, day before yesterday, on his way to Sundin. And when a man like Brandow rides a horse which in itself represents a small fortune, and on which, moreover, he has bet thousands, on such a night, over such roads, at such a pace, he must have been in a great hurry.

"He must have been in a very great hurry, or, my dear friend, you would not have escaped with your life; you certainly would not have been spared. A man whom people dash headlong over a precipice sixty feet high they silence entirely, if they are not in too great a hurry.

"Yet, as I said before, this will probably remain a mystery, even to a wiser judge than Justizrath von Zadenig. One of those who were there will never betray it, and the other can no longer do so.

"As I returned from B. I met Brandow; he may easily have learned from my coachman that I had been talking to the Justizrath for an hour. He rode towards home at full gallop; an hour after the lawyer arrived with the gendarme, but did not find Hinrich Scheel, although people had seen him about all the forenoon; and he even took his master's horse when he came home. The master was very, very anxious that the missing man should be found; he even directed the search himself; he--"

"I will not protract this horrible supposition farther; it is the only one which occurs in my story, all the others are facts--facts which cry aloud to heaven--which ought not, must not remain unpunished. I know, my dearest friend, you'll think as I do, though every fibre of your heart must quiver at the thought that you--you--

"I shall come to Sundin with my wife day after to-morrow. We will then discuss, not what is to be done--there can be no doubt about that; but the how is certainly to be considered."

Gotthold put the letter back in his pocket, and gazed out into the cheerless, rain-blurred landscape so fixedly, that he scarcely heard a carriage, which, coming from Prora, passed by on the other side of the road. It was still a half hour's ride to Prora, but it seemed an eternity to the impatient traveller. At last the carriage stopped before Wollnow's house.


"I am so sorry to have you go," said Ottilie; "my husband must certainly return before evening. He will be very angry with me for not keeping you. And then, confess it frankly, my dear friend, you are going without any definite plan--any fixed purpose--and in this way intend to meet a man like Brandow--that is, to lose the game before it is begun."

Ottilie had seized Gotthold's hands as if to draw him back from the door into the room. Gotthold shook his head.

"You are right," said he, "but there are cases where the one who is not right, or at least cannot prove that he is, must act according to his own opinions. That is my case. I cannot put Brandow in prison or drag him to the scaffold; I can't--"

"Even if he must otherwise still remain Cecilia's husband? You cannot permit that either."

"Certainly not, and therefore a third plan must be found."

"Which never can be. Dear, dear Gotthold, let me say to you what my husband would have said if he were here: Never! He will never yield if you go to him so, alone and helpless, without the bailiff and myrmidons of the law; you must be able to prove that you have him completely in your power, and that is not the case now. My husband said yesterday evening: 'If we could only confront him with Scheel. There is really nothing to be done without him; but where is Scheel? Perhaps at the bottom of the Dollan morass.' Ah! my dear friend, stay away from this den of murderers."

"And ought I to leave her there?" exclaimed Gotthold. "Woe betide me for having done so until now, for not having risked everything to take her away with me, her and her child, for it was only the child that detained her, and he would have sold the child too if I had had head and heart enough to offer him the right price. Now I can offer nothing except a mortal struggle; but I am sure, and he knows very well, that I shall not be conquered this time. Forgive me, my dear friend, for using so many words where acts would beseem me better, and--farewell."

Ottilie burst into tears. "And you," she exclaimed, "my dear, dear friend. Ah! yes, you must go, you must risk all if you love Cecilia, and that you did love her--I knew long ago, and my good Emil knew it, and--and--Emil would not act otherwise in your place, believe me, whatever he may have said before, and may say after! He knows what passionate love is, nay, he would make no objections if he were eight and twenty, and in your place! But I can't help it if I am not as beautiful and intellectual as your dear dead mother was; and besides, I was not even in existence thirty years ago, and there are much more unhappy married couples than we, and, and--may you and your Cecilia be as happy!"

She embraced and kissed Gotthold very warmly, and then stood at the open window letting the rain drip upon her tear-stained face as she waved her handkerchief while his carriage jolted over the rough pavement.

In spite of all the delays, it was still nearly an hour before sunset when Gotthold left Prora, and the horses stepped out bravely; he must surely reach Dollan before dark. He repeated this to himself several times in the course of the next hour, and then reflected why he constantly recurred to this calculation over and over again, and what difference it made whether he reached Dollan before or after dark. He could find no answer, and even as he sought for one, said to himself once more: "Thank God, I shall get there before dark!" Were his thoughts beginning to get confused? That would be bad; his head would probably have much to bear to-day, then his anxious eyes wandered to the heavy clouds, wet stubble, and black fields, and he murmured: "It will grow dark earlier than I expected," and as if the obstinacy of the idea required a corresponding idea, even if it were a mild one, he added: "I shall not find her."

And now he could not shake off the new idea: he would not find her. As if she would hide herself from him, and he would be obliged to seek her in vain because it was too dark.

Or was all this only nonsense, such as arises in the confused brain of a man who for hours has jolted alone in a damp chaise, over rough country roads, staring out into the murky atmosphere, which grew grayer and denser every minute. Was it the terrible type of a terrible possibility. Hinrich Scheel had taken Brandow's horse when he came home, and two hours after Hinrich Scheel had disappeared. Now he had been at home at least four hours; so he had had twice as much time.

Gotthold tore away the curtain which was still fastened on one side; it seemed as if he was suffocating. At last! there was the smithy close before him; he would see and speak to the worthy Prebrows; they lived so near that they could surely tell him they had seen and spoken to her a short time before.

The smithy was lonely and deserted; several hours must have passed since the bellows, had been used: a thick covering of ashes lay over the dead coals. It seemed as if the father and son, who lived alone in the old-fashioned little house, had just run away from their work. The piece of iron they had last been forging still lay on the anvil, the pincers and hammer were close beside it on the ground, as if they had been suddenly thrown down to rush out of the door, which stood wide open. The driver was very indignant; one of the springs of the chaise was almost broken. He had depended upon getting the injury repaired here so that it should go no farther. Gotthold told the lad to follow him slowly, he would go forward on foot.

He could not have waited a moment longer; the sight of the deserted smithy had infinitely increased the terrible anxiety which had tortured him all the way. He hurried up the ascending road over the moor, without heeding the rain that the wind drove into his face with redoubled violence as he walked hastily on, his eyes always fixed upon the nearest hillock which lay before him, and seemed inaccessible. Then he stood panting for breath on the top of the slope, but his view on the right was no clearer; a gray mist from the morass floated nearer and nearer, was so near already that the rugged side of the next hillock gleamed very dimly through the drizzling vapor, and he scarcely recognized the scene of the accident. On reaching the bottom he remembered that by keeping close to the edge one might pass between the hill and morass, so he left the height on the left, and took that course.

But as he turned towards the marsh he entered farther and farther into the fog that had now spread over the bog like a heaving gray sea, and whirled against the steep acclivity like surges dashed by a violent wind against the cliffs.

While the height on the left obstructed his view, and on the right he gazed into the gray mist, which scarcely permitted him to see where to set his feet, the terrible dread increased at every step; it seemed as if every moment the misty curtain must rise to reveal the horrible picture it now concealed, and the height against which it pressed was only there that he might not escape the scene. And there it was!

Gotthold stood trembling and staring into the mist with eyes fairly starting from their sockets. It could have been nothing but a trick of his over-excited fancy, for he now saw nothing, nothing at all, and yet he had seen it with perfect distinctness: four or five figures standing in a circle, thrusting long poles into the morass--misty spectres!

No, no; no spectres! Or else ghosts could speak with human voices, which he clearly distinguished, although he could not understand the words, and now he even caught a few.

"Could it possibly be here?"

"No, it was not possible--it was certain; he now knew why he had been so alarmed."

The next moment, with a single bound, he had dashed through the tall sedges which, at this spot, enclosed the morass with a broad girdle; the thin covering of turf rose and fell under him--he did not notice it; again and again the water dashed up under his flying feet--he did not heed it; his eyes pierced the mist in the direction from which he had heard the voices, and now heard them again still nearer; and now the figures, which a rift in the mist had just revealed to him, appeared again; he reached them.

"Cousin Boslaf!"

"Stand farther away, and you others, too! There are too many of us here; the ground won't bear, and I can do it alone."

They stepped back; again and again the old man let the long pole, furnished with an iron hook, slide cautiously down into the water which had here formed a small dark pool amid the rushes and nodding grass. Then he drew it out and gave it to one of the men. "There is nothing here. This was the last place, we will go back; keep close behind me; and you too, Gotthold. Tread in my footsteps."

The old man, holding his gun on his shoulder, walked forward with the long, regular stride of a huntsman, till the others, among whom was Clas Prebrow, Jochen's brother, found it difficult to keep up with him. He paused several times, and seemed to be trying the ground; but it was only for a few moments, then he moved on into the mist. The men followed without hesitation; they knew they could go on calmly if Cousin Boslaf led the way; and now the ground became firmer and firmer; they were on the very spot from which they had started an hour ago. Cousin Boslaf called Gotthold to his side.

"Since when?" asked Gotthold.

"At two o'clock this morning; the dogs have been keen on her track; I knew it first three hours ago."

"And you still have hope?"

The old man gazed into the mist.

"We have not found her," said he, "so the others may not either, and in that case there would still be hope, although it is not probable that she could have gone far with the child in the darkness."

"With the child?" cried Gotthold, "with Gretchen! then all is well; she would do the child no injury."

"Injury!" said the old man, "injury! there are greater injuries than death."

Gotthold shuddered. She had not been willing to part from the child; she had thought herself obliged to bear--able to bear--anything for its sake. Now matters had become unendurable, and she was compelled to cast the burden aside. What would become of Gretchen? There are worse injuries than death.


They walked rapidly towards the house, old Boslaf still leading the way with his long, regular strides, his eyes now bent upon the ground, and anon gazing keenly into the gloom of the gathering twilight; but he did not speak, and Gotthold asked no questions. Yet before he reached the court-yard, he knew--from various remarks made by the other men--that when, towards noon, the rumor spread abroad among the laborers that the mistress had disappeared with her child, it was said at once that they were dead. No one had been the first to utter the words; every one had spoken them at the same time, and suggested that somebody should go to Cousin Boslaf. Cousin Boslaf had come instantly--with his old long-barrelled gun over his shoulder--and divided the men into parties. Statthalter Möller, with one band, was to cross the fields and search the forest near the seashore. Prebrow, the blacksmith, who had been sent for, was to head another company and go to the upper part of the moor, towards the Schanzenbergen; and Cousin Boslaf himself, with the remainder, down to the morass; then they would all meet at the house again. Two hours before--they were then still farther out in the morass, and there was some little fog, though it was by no means so thick--they had seen Herr Brandow come home, and very soon after ride away again. He had taken a wise course, for the men had resolved that the murderer should not leave the estate alive again; it was no matter about Hinrich Scheel, who was as bad as his master; but his wife and child--it was too much, and they had always said it would happen some day.

They had all said so and had let it happen! True, they had been unable to prevent it; but he! Gotthold thought his heart would burst with shame and horror.

They reached the house almost at the same moment as the two other parties, who had carefully searched the region assigned to them, and found nothing, not the smallest trace.

What was to be done now?

Very little more could be done. True, the fog had dispersed, but twilight had already closed in; in half an hour, or an hour at latest, it would be perfectly dark. Besides, the men, who ever since noon had been constantly on their feet, searching bushes and woods, fields and morass, were evidently fatigued and exhausted, though quite ready to search the forest in the direction of Dahlitz, as soon as they had eaten the supper Cousin Boslaf had ordered to be brought out from the house. The old man himself neither eat nor drank; he stood with folded arms, leaning against the trunk of one of the huge old lindens, waiting patiently until the men should once more be ready to help him seek his great-granddaughter, the last of his race, at the bottom of the marl-pit, the depths of some forest ravine, or wherever she had fled with her child to die.

Gotthold had entered the house to look for Mine, a good young servant-girl whom he had often seen playing with Gretchen, and who appeared to be very devoted to Cecilia; perhaps he might learn from her something that would give a clew. He found her in the kitchen, where with eyes swollen with weeping, she was helping the housekeeper prepare bread and butter for the men's supper. When she caught sight of Gotthold she dropped the knife with a cry of joy, and came running towards him.

Gotthold told her to leave the room with him.

At first the good child's tears almost choked her words. The mistress had been very sad the last few weeks, much more sorrowful than usual; she had scarcely spoken except to Gretchen, whom she would never trust out of her sight, and even to her only when it was absolutely necessary. Yesterday she had remained out of doors alone until very late in the evening, and when she came in looked so pale and exhausted, and stared straight before her with such a fixed expression; she would not go to bed, however, but insisted that she should go to her mother in Neuenhof, who was very sick, and added that she need not come back before noon, and then the mistress had already been gone, no one knows how long. Rieke had certainly known it long before, but said nothing from fear of the other servants, and hid herself up stairs until the master came home. At first he scolded her furiously, and struck at her with his riding-whip, but Rieke cried and screamed that she would charge the master with it, and made such evil speeches that at last he took her away with him in the carriage; and her dear kind mistress had been obliged to go out of the house in the middle of the night, and dear sweet little Gretchen had not even had her new boots, for they were locked up in the closet, and she had the key in her pocket.

The girl began to cry again; Gotthold said a few words which were intended to be consoling, and was then obliged to turn away, for his own grief threatened to overpower him. The sobbing girl had reminded him of the sunny days when he sought out Cecilia in the garden, and played with Gretchen among the flower-beds.

When he came out of the house again, the men had finished their meals and were ready to set out. Prebrow, the blacksmith, was to search the forest on the left, and the Statthalter on the right of the road to Dahlitz. Cousin Boslaf would keep to the road itself. They were just going when Gotthold's chaise jolted into the courtyard; the spring was now entirely broken, and the tire was off of one wheel. Cousin Boslaf asked the Statthalter whether Herr Wenhofs old carriage was still there, and capable of being used. The carriage was there, and might be made fit for use. Then Clas Prebrow should repair it, put in a pair of fresh horses, and follow them. Gotthold looked at the old man inquiringly.

"I shall seek till I find her," said Cousin Boslaf, pushing the rifle farther over his shoulder, "and I shall find her--alive or dead; in either case we shall need the carriage."

They reached the forest; the men had already spread out to the right and left, and now pressed eagerly into its depths.

"I shall keep to the road," said Cousin Boslaf as they walked on side by side. "I can trust my old eyes, and I almost believe she has taken this way. She would reach the forest sooner, and directly behind the woods, in a ploughed field on the right, is the great marl-pit. When she was a child, a poor girl who had killed her new-born babe drowned herself there."

The old man did not change his long, regular stride as he spoke, and his keen eyes searched the deep furrows of the rough road, or glanced over the bashes and tree trunks on either side, between which, here in the depths of the forest, the darkness already brooded gloomily. The men within the woods shouted to each other, in order to keep together: oftentimes one of the dogs they had taken with them barked loudly, then for a moment all was silent again, save the wind sighing through the treetops, and shaking the rain-drops from the leaves. Then the old man paused, listened, and went on again, after convincing himself that the men still kept to their track, and nothing remarkable had happened.

So they came to the end of the forest, whose dark edge stretched out into the twilight on either side as far as the eye could reach. Nothing was to be seen of the men, who had been obliged to make their way through the underbrush more slowly. Cousin Boslaf pointed towards the right, where a short distance from the road, in the ploughed field, a round spot was relieved against the darker earth; it was the marl-pit, which the continual rain of the last few days had filled nearly to the brim.

They crossed the edge of the road to the field; the old man again took the lead, but more slowly than before, and his head was bowed lower, as if he wished to count every separate blade of the short wet grass. Suddenly he paused: "Here!"

He pointed to the wet ground, upon which, as Gotthold now also perceived, were the marks of footprints, a large one, with a smaller one beside it. The footprints came from the road they had just left, but had emerged from the forest sooner, and gone towards the marl-pit, and they had come upon it farther down at a right angle. The old hunter and the young man looked at each other; neither spoke--they knew the decisive moment had come.

Slowly and cautiously they followed the clew, which ran straight before them towards the marl-pit, on whose surface they already saw the rippling of the water, as the strong breeze blew it against the edges. Only about fifty paces more, and all would be decided.

Gotthold's eyes rested fixedly upon the horrible water, which glittered spectrally in the last feeble glimmer of twilight; he saw her standing on the edge holding the child by the hand, gazing--

One of the old man's hands rested on his shoulder, the other pointed downwards. "She took the child in her arms here."

There was only one footprint, the larger one, and the mark was deeper--five, ten, fifteen steps--


The old man had uttered the word, and waving Gotthold back with his hand at the same moment, he fell upon his knees. The footprints were confused, as if she had taken a few steps irresolutely to and fro, and then the trail became distinct again, going straight on, but parallel with the edge of the marl-pit, and then they turned back in the direction of the road, and remained in that course to the bank, from whose sharp edge a small piece of turf had been torn as she stepped upon the path with her burden.

The two men stood in the road once more; Gotthold felt as if the solid earth were reeling under him; he threw himself into the arms of the old man, who clasped him in a warm embrace.

"We may hope now, my dear son; but we are not yet at the end."

"I will bear and risk everything, so long as I can still hope," cried Gotthold.

The dark figures of men now emerged singly and in pairs from the gloomy forest, and approached the place where they stood. They had found nothing; and Statthalter Möller asked whether they should now search the marl-pit; they could probably do no more than that today; it had grown too dark, and the people were completely worn out.

"But if Herr Wenhof wants us to do anything, we will, won't we, men?" asked Statthalter Möller.

"Ay, that we will," they replied in chorus.

"I thank you," said Cousin Boslaf, "you can help me no more now; I will go on alone with this gentleman, as soon as Clas Prebrow comes with the carriage, and I now have a hope that I may find my great-grandchild alive."

The old man's voice trembled as he pronounced the last words, and the people looked at him in astonishment.

"Yes, my great-grandchild," the old man began again, and his voice was now strong, and had acquired a strangely deep, solemn tone, "for that she is--my great-grandchild, and the great-grandchild of Ulrica, the wife of Adolf Wenhof. You have aided me so faithfully to-day that I cannot help telling you the truth. There is no one living whom it can harm, but it may do you good to know that the truth must always be spoken, that an old man of ninety must speak it, for no other reason than that it is the truth. And now go home, children, and don't allow yourselves to be tempted to take vengeance on him who has driven my child from house and home--don't vent your anger on the house and farm. Better men have lived there before him, and better ones will dwell there after him; and now once more I thank you, children."

The men had listened in silence; one after another removed his cap--they did not exactly know why; and when the old man and Gotthold entered the carriage, which meantime had quietly driven up, all stood around it with bared heads, and even after the coach had gone on, and they had set out on their way home, it was long ere any one ventured to speak aloud.

But the coach drove on through the darkness towards the fishing village of Ralow. It was a delightful road on a summer evening, and Cecilia had been fond of walking here with the child. Gotthold thought she would follow this direction, and the old man had assented. "It is your turn now," said he. "We were seeking a dead body, and an old man is well suited for that; now that we are in search of a living woman, young blood may be better."


Two days after, Jochen Prebrow was standing before the door of his house, just after his second breakfast, looking out to sea through a long spy-glass, which with his left hand he rested against the tall flag-staff that stood before the house. Worthy Jochen might often be found in the same spot, engaged in the same occupation It was not that he sought or hoped to find anything unusual out at sea; but in leisure moments the spy-glass, which usually rested on two crooked bars close beside the door under the shelter of the projecting roof, afforded an excellent amusement, even if, as at this moment, there was nothing to be seen on the sea except the waves, here and there crested with foam, dancing merrily in the morning breeze.

But to-day the worthy Jochen did not even see the foam-crested waves; he saw absolutely nothing at all; yet when, at the end of five minutes, he put down and closed the spy-glass, his broad face wore an expression as anxious as if he had perceived a large ship, driven by a north-east storm on the Wiessow cliffs, and his neighbor Pilot Bonsak had said she could not be saved.

And the same anxious expression rested upon the plump face of his Stine, who had just appeared in the doorway, and with both hands, usually so busy, idly folded under her apron, began to gaze at the blue morning sky and shining white clouds scattered over it, without even noticing her Jochen, who was standing scarcely six paces away.

"No, no," sighed Stine.

"Yes, yes," said Jochen.

"Jochen, how you frightened me!"

"And it is frightful, when one thinks of it," said Jochen.

He had opened the spy-glass again, and was evidently about to resume his former occupation; but Stine took it out of his hands, put it in its place, and said in a somewhat irritated tone, "You do nothing but look through the old thing, and I so worried that I hardly know whether I'm on my head or my heels."

"Oh! but if you don't know, Stine"--

"How am I to know? Why are you my husband, if I, poor creature, am expected to know everything? And she has just asked me again whether the Swede is not yet here. Poor girl! To go all that long way in such a nutshell of a boat! And who knows whether the people over yonder will want her. They are only fourth or fifth cousins."

Stine had spoken with great emotion, but in a suppressed tone, and had drawn her Jochen out to the blackthorn hedge that divided the sandy little garden from the sandy village-street. Jochen had a vague perception that as a man and a husband, and moreover sole innkeeper of Wiessow, he must say something, so he replied: "You'll see, Stine, we sha'n't carry it through."

"Jochen, I wouldn't have believed you were so bad," exclaimed Stine, as, sobbing violently and pressing both red hands over her eyes, she turned away from her husband and went back to the house.

Jochen was left standing by the hedge, and raised his arms; but the spy-glass was resting quietly in its place, and, in consideration of his wickedness, he did not venture to take down the care-dispeller. So he let his arms fall again and thrust his hands into his pockets. Thank God, here was his pipe! It now had many idle hours, for Stine could not bear smoking, and if she should see him now when she was so angry, she probably would not make friends again.

Jochen let the pipe slide back into his pocket, and gazed at the sparkling sea like one who, without any optical instrument, still sees only too distinctly the spot where just now a majestic ship went down with all on board.

"Good-morning, Prebrow," said a voice close beside him.

Jochen slowly turned his blue eyes from the distant horizon towards the gentleman who, with the collar of his coat turned up over his ears, had just passed along by the hedge with hasty strides.

"Good-morning, Herr In--"

"St--" said the gentleman, stopping and putting his finger on his lips.

Jochen nodded.

"To-night!" continued the gentleman; "I tell you, because, after everything has gone on well, until now, somebody might at the last moment get some suspicion, and inquire of you. Of course you don't know me."

"Heaven forbid!" replied Jochen.

The gentleman nodded and was about to continue his walk, but paused again as if struck by the troubled expression of Jochen's face, and added: "You needn't take it to heart, Prebrow; it serves the Rahnk right; their conduct is a disgrace to Wiessow and the whole region, and after all there is no one who would not be glad to have you get rid of the rascals. And when I come back next time, Prebrow, I shall of course lodge with you; this time I must keep out of the way."

The gentleman nodded, walked lightly away, and after casting a rapid glance around him, entered the pilot's house.

"A damned miserable business," muttered Jochen, without exactly knowing which of the two he meant, the one going on in his own house, or the other of which the Herr steuer-inspector had just spoken. It was probably the former; the second certainly did not concern him at all, but it was a secret the more, and he already had far too much trouble with one.

"Good-morning, Jochen."

This time Jochen was actually frightened. There was his brother Clas in the very spot where the Herr inspector had just been standing.

"Why, good Heavens, Clas, what brings you here?" he exclaimed.

"Ah! you may well say that, Jochen," answered Clas.

"Is the smithy burned?"

"Why, Jochen, how can you ask such stupid questions?"

The bridge of understanding seemed broken. The feeling that the whole world was one dark secret, and he the unhappy man who had to guard it, overpowered Jochen still more.

"Won't you come in, Clas?" said he.

He could not help saying that; he could not leave his only brother, who moreover was the elder of the two, standing in the street.

Clas Prebrow instantly accepted his brother's invitation, notwithstanding the unbrotherly tone in which it was given, shook hands with Jochen, and said, glancing towards the house, "You're very well off here, Jochen."

Jochen nodded.

"And probably have a great many guests."

"What business is it of yours?" cried Jochen violently, as if he had been bitterly insulted.

"Why, I only asked the question," said Clas.

"There is no one here at all," cried Jochen, "no one at all;" and he stepped before the other as he was making his way towards the house.

"That happens just right," said Clas; "then I can turn back and tell old Herr Wenhorf and Herr Gotthold that they can get lodgings in your house."

Jochen was perfectly horrified. What should he do? He had promised to keep silence, but what could silence avail if Herr Gotthold came straight into the house, and the old gentleman too, for whom he had such a wholesome respect. If the latter fixed his clear old eyes upon him, he must certainly tell everything, and--"Stine, Stine," shouted Jochen, as if the only inn in Wiessow were in flames from top to bottom.

"Jochen, have you gone perfectly crazy? Don't you think at all of--"

Stine, who had come running out of the house at her husband's loud outcry, suddenly slopped short and stared at her brother-in-law with open mouth.

"You see," said Jochen with great satisfaction.

"Where is he?" asked Stine.

Clas Prebrow felt that his diplomatic reserve would not answer with the clever Stine, and at this stage of his mission he must drop the mask. So he rubbed his large, hard, blackened hands contentedly, and showed his white teeth, but suddenly grew grave again, and said, while his glance wandered over the row of windows in the upper story, "Wouldn't it be better for us to go in?"

They went in and entered the little sitting-room directly behind the large coffee-room, which Stine only left for a moment to get from the cupboard a bottle of rum and two glasses, that the brothers might drink to each other's health, and Clas's tongue should not get dry in case he had a great deal to tell.

Clas probably would have had a very long story, but remembering that the gentlemen were awaiting his return, he cut it short.

They had come upon the right clew the very first evening, but lost it again the following day because the lady left the carriage she had taken at Ralow, in Gulnitz, and went on on foot, to conceal her route. She succeeded so well in this, that they spent a whole day and night in searching, and only recovered the lost trail late yesterday evening in Trentow. To be sure, it would now scarcely have been doubtful what direction she had taken; but they had left the carriage at noon at Herr von Schoritz of Schoritz, who was a friend of Gotthold's, in order to proceed on their journey on foot to mislead Herr Brandow, in case he was behind them, and therefore they had been obliged to rest a few hours in Trentow, and to-day they were coming from Trentow, and he ran on before, less to inquire whether the lady was here than to beg his sister-in-law to prepare her, that she might not be too much frightened.

"Oh! goodness gracious," said Stine, "poor, poor child! we were obliged to promise solemnly that we would not betray her."

"Stine, we sha'n't be able to carry it through," said Jochen.

In her heart Stine had never expected to do so; nay, she had always prayed that Heaven would interpose and send Herr Gotthold to them before it was too late. To be sure, she could not acknowledge this openly, but neither did she wish to be actually unfaithful to the promise she had given Cecilia, and in her perplexity began to weep bitterly.

Jochen nodded assent, as if he wanted to show his Stine that she had now taken the right course. Clas emptied his glass and said, rising, "So we shall be here in fifteen minutes. You're so clever, Stine, you can easily settle matters, and you can come with me, Jochen."

Jochen started up and went out of the room so hastily that he left his glass half full. Stine intended to pour the liquor back into the bottle again, but in her absence of mind drank it herself. Tears fell from her eyes: "We poor women!" she murmured.


After Stine had left the room, Cecilia still remained sitting by her child's little bed. Gretchen had fallen asleep, and it now seemed to the mother that the innocent little face looked paler, and the white, delicate hands often twitched convulsively. Suppose she should be seriously ill? Suppose she should die, and all the horror and grief of these hours had been endured in vain?

She pressed her hands to her throbbing temples. There was no one--no one who could counsel and help her. And yet she was with friends, with her good old Stine, who had received her yesterday with a flood of joyful tears, who was nearly beside herself with grief and joy at the unexpected visit, and with worthy Jochen, whose honest face mingled pleasantly with the happy memories of her girlish days--how deserted she would feel in yonder foreign land! Would they not look upon her, treat her as an adventuress? And could she blame them for it? Could she tell her pitiful story to all the world--nay, even to one human being?

The harassing anxiety drove her from her seat to the window of the next room. A broad expanse of blue sea flashed between the gable-roofs of the neighbors' houses and the white downs; a sail gleamed on the distant horizon. It was a fresh, bright scene that was framed in by the low window, and she gazed at it with the eyes with which he had taught her to behold nature; then she remembered that the empty waste of waters, with the lonely ship pursuing its solitary way into the unknown distance, was to her and her child a cruel, pitiless reality. Her head drooped; she did not notice the slight noise outside the door, and only looked up when it opened, and Stine, an expression of mingled timidity and joy on her face, which was swollen and red with weeping, entered, and then looked back towards some one who was standing behind her. A sudden foreboding, which drove every drop of blood to her heart, thrilled Cecilia's frame. Who could the dark figure in the entry be except the one person for whom she had so eagerly longed, for whose coming she had waited and hoped as the devotee waits and hopes for a miracle? Now he was here, because he loved her--and yet, and yet it could not, must not be; and her half-extended arms fell, her trembling hands did not return the clasp of his.

"Where is Gretchen?"

They went to the child's bed, where good Stine had already preceded them. The little pale cheeks were now deeply flushed, the hands twitched more violently; Cecilia's anxious eyes said, what did not cross her trembling lips until they had again entered the next room, "If she dies, I have killed her."

"She will not die," replied Gotthold, "but you must not decide upon anything hastily; you must no longer struggle on alone, must not disdain my aid as you have done till now."

"That I may drag you, who are guiltless of this misery, down to ruin with me? I have already involved you too far, but more--never."

"What do you call more, Cecilia? I love you; in those words all is said, in those words our lives are woven into one circle. What could you suffer that I would not suffer with you? Nay, has not even your past life become mine and always belonged to me? Has not all this ever brooded over my soul as a vague, anxious foreboding, drawing a veil over my brightest hours? Yes, Cecilia, when I consider this, I cannot help saying: 'Thank God! thank God that the veil is rent, that life lies before me as it is, although obstacles and difficulties of all kinds threaten to bar our way. We will conquer them. If I ever despaired, I shall do so no longer, now that you are restored to me."

He had bent his lips to her ear as he sat behind her; his deep voice grew so low as to become almost inaudible, but she caught every syllable, and each word pierced her to the heart.

"Ah! Cecilia, Cecilia! you would not have killed yourself and your child only--you would have slain me too. Well, since a voice you must ever hold sacred, of whose veracity you must never, never have the smallest doubt, has cried, live! live for me, Cecilia, for--you cannot live without me."

"Nor with you," cried Cecilia, wringing her hands. "No, do not turn your honest eyes upon me with such a questioning, reproachful look, my own dear love! I would fain tell you all, but I cannot; perhaps I might to a woman, yet to her, if she were a true woman, I should not need to do so, for she would understand me without words."

"You do not love me as you must love the man from whom you could and would accept every sacrifice, because love, the true love which bears and suffers all things, perceives no sacrifices, and yours is not the true love!"

He spoke without the slightest tinge of bitterness; but his chest heaved painfully, and his lips quivered.

"Am I not right in saying that no man, even the best, the most delicate in feeling, can rightly understand us?" replied Cecilia, bending towards Gotthold, and pushing his hair back from his burning brow. For a moment the old sweet smile played around her delicate lips and sparkled in her eyes, the smile of which Gotthold had often dreamed, and then spent the whole day absorbed in reverie, as if under the influence of some magic spell. But it was only for a moment; then it disappeared, and sorrowful earnestness was again expressed in every feature of the beautiful face, again echoed in the tones of her voice.

"True love! Dare a woman who has experienced what I have, even take the word on her lips? True love! Would you have called it so, when I--"

She paused suddenly, rose, went to the window, came back again, and standing before Gotthold with her arms folded across her breast, said: "When I procured still larger supplies for his avarice, when I would have suffered myself and my child to be sold, though you would have been compelled to sacrifice the last penny of your fortune to buy our freedom--"

"You might have done so, and did not!" exclaimed Gotthold, in the most painful agitation.

"I might, and did not," replied Cecilia, "but certainly not because I doubted, for an instant, that you would, without hesitation, sacrifice all, all; such a doubt is inconceivable to a woman who knows herself beloved, nay, she would, under similar circumstances, go begging for her lover; but--it is useless, Gotthold, I shall never find words. Ah! the misery that is even denied the relief of expressing its agony, which must consume away in silent torture."

She wandered up and down the room, wringing her hands. Gotthold's mournful eyes followed her as she paced to and fro, and a feeling of intense bitterness welled up in his heart. There had been a possibility, but she had not seized it, and now it was too late.

He told her so, and why it was now too late, and that even if, by the income from his labor, he could satisfy the claims which others already had upon the small remnant of property that now remained, it would be a mere nothing to her husband's avarice, a sum which, if any one offered him, he would hurl back into his face with a scornful laugh.

Cecilia, pausing in the centre of the room, had listened eagerly, gasping for breath. "My poor Gotthold," said she; "but for me--it is better so, even the temptation cannot assail me now, and the matter is decided. Yes, Gotthold, it is decided; besides, perhaps it was only a momentary thirst for money, which the deadly hatred he bore you has long since swallowed up. He will not release me; I have not chosen, will not choose death as long as the last possibility of deliverance, flight, remains. Let me fly, Gotthold, before it is too late; do not detain me. You wish to save me, and are only driving me into the arms of death."

"I will keep you, save you, and tear you from the arms of death," cried Gotthold, clasping Cecilia's hands, "you and your child, whom you would kill, if, while ill and feverish, you exposed it to the dangers of a journey, which, under any circumstances, would be a useless cruelty, for he would know how to find you there or anywhere if he wants to do so--there as well as here, and therefore you must not stay here. You can remain nowhere, except under my protection, I repeat it. I will guard you. Cecilia, have you then no faith in me, my courage, my strength, my judgment? And I too cannot tell you all, how I intend to save you, will save you; I must beg you to let me take my own way, without explanation. Is not what is fair for women, right for men? May not cases occur for us also, in which we act as duty and honor command, and which we can confide only to a man? And, Cecilia, when I tell you that I have trusted to a man, to whom from childhood you have looked up with deep reverence, without suspecting that you owed him the respect so freely paid--and this man approves of my plan and resolution, and will himself do all in his power that the plan may not remain a plan, that the resolution may be executed--and this man will assure you of the fact with his own lips--Cecilia, I will bring this old man, your ancestor, to you, and when kneeling before him with his hand resting upon your head, the past, which seems as brazen and immutable as fate, reels and totters, you will perhaps believe that the present is not unalterably fixed for those who live and love!"

Gotthold hurried out of the room. Cecilia, trembling with a strange foreboding, gazed steadily at the door through which he had disappeared. It opened again: the tall form that entered was compelled to bend its head, and thus, with drooping head and downcast eyes, approached her. A strange conviction shot through her mind: even so had her father looked when he called her to his bedside an hour before he died, and at that moment he had resembled the picture of his grandfather, which hung in the sitting-room beside the old clock. Her knees trembled, and almost refused to support her, as he held out his hand.

Gotthold closed the door. The words spoken between the two must ever remain a secret.


The last rays of the setting sun trembled on the heaving water in crimson light, and crimson light glittered on the nodding grass of the broad swamp that stretched from the western shore to the downs, and bathed the figures of Gotthold and Jochen Prebrow, who, coming up from the narrower strip of ground that rose from the eastern beach, had just reached the highest point of ground. Gotthold, shading his eyes with his hand, was already gazing into the fiery sea, while Jochen kept pushing the spy-glass in and out of its case. At last he found the narrow mark on the glittering brass. "Here," said he, handing the glass to his companion, and then added as if to apologize: "One can see a devilish long ways with it."

"My good fellow!" replied Gotthold smiling.

Jochen showed his white teeth, and then both suddenly grew very grave again. Gotthold looked through the glass as eagerly as if he were actually trying to see the boat, which had sailed four hours before with a fair wind, and must now surely be off Sundin, if not already in the harbor, and Jochen was as downcast as if he had seen the round cheeks of his Stine, who positively insisted upon accompanying Frau Brandow for the last time.

But the worthy fellow was not thinking of himself. He could do without his Stine for a few days or weeks, if necessary, and things generally went so pleasantly with him that he had more than once doubted whether he was not too well off; but his poor, poor Herr Gotthold! O Heavens! how they looked at each other when she was going to get into the boat, and they shook hands on the bridge once more; with such large, wide-open eyes, which were full of tears! And then when she reached the boat, she instantly rushed down into the cabin, where Stine had carried the child, and then, as the wind took the sails and the boat began to move, came out again, and stood leaning on the old gentleman's arm, waving her handkerchief, with her big wide eyes looking steadily towards him, though she certainly could see nothing through her tears.

"But the boat is as good as any that can be found," said Jochen, "and as for my father-in-law, he was glad to get something to do again, and my brother Clas is a wonderfully clever fellow, and has often been in Sundin. He can take good care of them all; he said he knew where Wollnow lived, too, and one can depend upon the old gentleman, and nobody can do more than he can; and when one has done everything within the bounds of human possibility, he has done all he can."

Jochen drew a long breath; he was astonished himself to find how he could talk to-day--even his Stine would have done no better--and Herr Gotthold had said nothing at all--what could he say against it? Jochen continued in a still more persuasive tone: "And so you mustn't be so sad, Herr Gotthold, for the night doesn't last all the time, and unexpected things often happen, and when a horse once gets the bit between its teeth, a man may pull his arms off, but it will run away for all that; and what a horse can do, a man can too."

"I shall not fail, Jochen," replied Gotthold, "and I am no longer wretched, for I know I shall fight my way through, although it is a difficult matter so long as we don't have Scheel. But I think we shall get the fellow yet; at least he isn't dead, and that is the main thing."

Jochen Prebrow shook his great head. "It's a damned, miserable business, Herr Gotthold," said he. "Old Arent in Goritz saw him a week ago,--well, he certainly knows him, for the old man was at Dahlitz till Hinrich Scheel drove him away, but at night all cats are gray, and besides--there are so many chances of getting away from here by sea to Sweden or Mechlenburg or elsewhere. Therefore, it is very probable that he came here; but that he could be here still--no, that I don't believe."

The crimson glow which blazed in the western horizon had faded, and as they turned towards the east in descending from the summit of the down, the sea from the shore to the farthest horizon spread before them in a deep blue expanse, against which the white sand of the beach was relieved with singular distinctness. The chain of downs, upon whose highest point they had just been standing, stretched towards the north in a vast confused mass, which in the twilight seemed endless, here overgrown with coarse grass and broom, yonder in dreary baldness, rounded, lengthened, flattened, with sharp overhanging edges, like a sea which, while lashed by a tempest, had suddenly been converted into sand. Yonder, where the western shore projected farthest--Wiessow Point they called the narrow tongue of land--a roof, just visible to the eye, appeared above the downs, and Jochen Prebrow pointed towards it with his spy-glass.

"Do you see that house?"

"A part of it."

"That's where the Rahnkes live; I shouldn't like to be in their skins to-day."

"Why, what is going on there?" asked Gotthold.

"Another of the good chances," continued Jochen, involuntarily lowering his voice, although, as far as the eye could reach, no living creature was to be seen except the sea-gulls hovering over the waves. "They pretend to be fishermen, and when we were under Swedish rule also had the right to sell liquor, and say they have it still. But that is probably only a rumor in order to have a reason why every moment boats run in full of people, who, like the Rahnkes, call themselves fishermen, and have just as little right to the name. There must often be a half-dozen there at once, the custom-house officers say, and when they come--either by land or water--all are away, just run out to sea. They have kept watch here on the downs, and cruised in the offing for days together; but then no boat has ever arrived except some innocent fishing-smack, and the Rahnkes have stood and laughed when the officers were disappointed again. But they'll get paid for it to-night."

"What, this evening?"

"I really ought not to tell, but it's different with you, and besides they must certainly be there already. Do you see the three sails standing towards the north? Those are Uselin fishing-boats, and this is the right time and the right course; but they have no fishermen in them, but custom-house officers in peajackets and southwesters, and when they are near enough they will heave to and stop close by Wiessow Point, and the moment they heave to, a dozen custom-house officers and gendarmes will come marching, marching up from the land-side. I have it all from Herr Inspector from Sundin, who has already spent two days in Wiessow, and I'm an old acquaintance of his, because I've often driven him to different places; so he told me about it. Look! Herr Gotthold, look! there it begins."

Jochen, with an eagerness most unusual to him, pointed towards the three vessels, which, in fact, after holding their course in line directly towards the north, suddenly tacked and stood towards the land. At the same moment, two boats that must hitherto have lain concealed behind Wiessow Point appeared, and it was soon evident that they wished to escape between the coast and the three vessels, while the foremost was trying to cut them off. But it was already doubtful whether it would succeed, as it had a longer distance to run before reaching the point where the two courses crossed, and the smugglers sailed quite as fast, besides laying closer to the wind. In fact, at the end of ten minutes, a small gray cloud that rose from the pursuing boat, followed at shorter and shorter intervals by other little gray clouds, showed that the custom-house officers were beginning to despair of the success of the chase, and soon the cessation of the firing proved it had failed. The smugglers already looked like a mere speck on the horizon, the pursuing boat had tacked, and was standing back towards Wiessow Point, where the two others had arrived long before, "probably, with the men who now came hurrying up from the land-side, to find the nest empty once more," Gotthold said to himself.

"The damned rascals!" cried Jochen Prebrow.

They had been standing at the top of one of the higher downs, eagerly watching the exciting spectacle, every separate phase of which was as distinct to the two sons of the coast as if they had been in the midst of the action. In this the excellent spy-glass had done them essential service; it had been passed from hand to hand, and Gotthold had just taken it. He thought, if Jochen's information was correct, they must at least see some of the custom-house officers on the farthest downs, and slowly turning from hillock to hillock was searching the ground before him, already growing dim in the mists of evening, when he heard a low exclamation. At the same moment, however, he dropped the spy-glass, and pulled Jochen away from the crest of the down, so that their heads were concealed by the long waving grass.

"What is it?"

"Hinrich Scheel! I saw him distinctly. He was standing about a thousand paces away on the top of yonder down, with his back towards us."

"How is that possible?"

"I don't know; but it was he; I should know him among a thousand: there he is again."

But it was not on the same down, but farther to the right, and, as it seemed to Gotthold, nearer than before; besides, the man, in whom through the spy-glass Jochen also thought he recognized Hinrich Scheel, was no longer standing erect, but crouching behind the crest of the down, like the two companions, gazing in the direction of the Rahnkes' house, from which he had come. At least Gotthold did not doubt it. The whole situation instantly grew plain to him. Hinrich Scheel, in some way or other, had been delayed in his flight, and found in the Rahnkes' house, which, according to Jochen's description, was nothing more than a den of thieves, a shelter, from which the attack of the custom-house officers had just driven him. He had now fled before them to the downs, and had every prospect of making his escape even if pursued, since the approaching darkness and extreme inequality of the soil greatly favored his designs.

Jochen was entirely of Gotthold's opinion, but what should they do now? Wait to see whether Hinrich, who was still lying motionless in the same spot, would continue his flight in the same direction, and so come nearer and nearer to them, or make the attempt to crawl up to him, as he evidently expected no danger from this quarter? Both plans were almost equally uncertain. The darkness was now increasing very rapidly: at his present great distance the man would soon look like a mere dark spot on the light sand, and must disappear entirely in a short time; on the other hand, he need only glance around, if they were not wholly concealed, and then the next instant would surely slide from the down on which he lay, and of course overtaking him could not be thought of.

Gotthold's heart throbbed as if it would burst, as he thought of all this, and discussed it with Jochen in a whisper. In all probability, his fate and hers depended upon his getting yonder man into his power. A few moments before, he had had scarcely the shadow of a hope that he would ever succeed in doing so; now an almost miraculous chance seemed to desire to aid him. There was the man, and here he himself with his faithful Jochen, the space that separated them so short that it could be crossed in a few minutes, and yet the turning of an eye, a breath of wind, a nothing, might tear his prey from him, as if he had only dreamed all this, as if it were but a delirium of his excited fancy, and he need only rub his eyes, and the dark spot yonder, which seemed to be a man, would disappear.

He had disappeared. Had he seen the pursuers approaching from that side, and continued his flight, or had he thought the way was now open and he could begin his retreat? The place where he had just lain was empty. A mistake was impossible, in spite of the dim twilight the crest of the down was still sharply relieved against the sky. Would he appear again? And would it be nearer or farther?

A few seconds elapsed, during which the two men did not venture to breathe. There! There he was again, and nearer--considerably nearer; he seemed to be coming directly towards them, and there could no longer be a doubt of it. Within a few minutes the distance had lessened at least one-half; they scarcely dared to look through the waving sedges, necessary as it was to watch the movements of the man, who even at the last moment might take another direction. And now he glided down the slope of the next hillock in the chain, and came straight up the down behind whose crest they lay. It was the highest of them all, and he probably wished to look around him a short time, in order to assure himself that no danger was threatening from any quarter.

They had slipped down a few feet, and crouched as closely as possible among the sedges. In a few moments Hinrich Scheel's head must appear before them; they distinctly heard him toiling up the tolerably steep slope on the other side, and muttering curses when the sand gave way under his feet.


They started up, and darted to the summit. With a lightning-like movement Hinrich glided from under Gotthold's hands, but as he turned to the left ran directly into Jochen's arms, and the two in one indistinguishable ball, slipped, rolled, and tumbled down the hillock faster than Gotthold could follow them. Jochen had taken a firm hold, but in the last turn he fell underneath; with a desperate effort Hinrich released himself, and was dealing a furious blow with a large clasp-knife he had drawn from his pocket, when Gotthold seized his arm and turned the weapon aside. Jochen had already started up again, and the next instant Hinrich Scheel, in his turn, was lying on the sand, face downwards, and Jochen, kneeling on his shoulders, was in the act of tying his elbows behind him with a small rope, which, after the manner of old coachmen, he always carried about with him.

"If you tie me, you'll crush me at the same time," gasped Hinrich Scheel. "I won't get up."

"Release him," said Gotthold.

"But we'll take care of this ourselves," said Jochen as he drew a pistol from the pocket of the prostrate man, and handed it to Gotthold. "There!"

Hinrich Scheel stood erect. His squinting eyes stared horribly at his assailant from a face distorted with rage. Suddenly he started back.

"You," he cried, "you! What do you want of me?"


There was a wild terror in Hinrich's look and gesture, and the rattling tone of his harsh voice.

"What is the matter?" cried Gotthold, shaking the man, who still stood before him as if petrified, rudely by the shoulder.

The powerful grasp produced a strange, mysterious effect upon the man. He stretched his long arms towards the dark sky, shook them wildly, waved them up and down, and then threw himself on his knees, bracing his left hand against the sand, and striking several furious blows with the right, as if he wished to murder some one he held by the throat; then he rose and shrieked, in answer to Gotthold's question:--

"What's the matter? I wish I had him!"


"He lied; he said you were dead, and they wanted to arrest me, and imprisonment for life would be the least punishment; and did I wish to bring misfortune upon him, who had always been such a good master to me, and would give me money enough to last all my life? But when he came that night to the giant's grave, where I had concealed myself, he only gave me five hundred thalers; he had no more, not another shilling; he was obliged to give the rest to the lawyer, as bail for his appearing at any moment if he was summoned. And all that was a lie, wasn't it, sir, all a lie, every word?"

"All," said Gotthold, "all, every word."

"All, every word," repeated Hinrich, as if he could not yet understand it. "Why did he need to lie? I should certainly have gone if it had been necessary--for him. I did it for him, and as for the money, I had it in my hand. I could have done what I chose with it, and I gave it to him. Not a thaler was lacking; it was the whole package, just as I took it out of the Assessor's pocket."

"You did it for him," said Gotthold; "did you also do it by his orders?"

"By his orders?" replied Hinrich, "what need was there of orders? I did it because--because--I don't know why; but he rode on my back until he got his pony, and then I taught him to ride; he learned all, all he knows from me; and if Brownlock wins and brings him in a pile of money, whom has he to thank for it but Hinrich Scheel?"

While speaking in this manner, they walked on over the downs, Gotthold and Hinrich leading the way, while Jochen Prebrow followed behind, though not so far that he could not overtake them in a few bounds if necessary. It had grown very dark, so dark that they could scarcely see the wild rabbits which glided through the coarse grass at their feet, and a large owl soaring towards them fluttered aside in terror, as Hinrich, after a pause, continued with a savage imprecation:--

"I did it, because I knew how hard up he was. He had five thousand thalers to pay Herr Redebas the following noon, and if he did not pay them he might be refused a place in the races. I knew that--I have been at them often enough, and know as much about the rules as any of the gentlemen--and I knew that he would make no fuss afterwards, although he had said nothing about it, and I believe had not even thought of the money the Herr Assessor carried in his pocket. But I had thought of it all day long, and even looked out the place as we drove to Dollan. It had long overhung the morass, and the rain had made long cracks in it, so I said to myself: 'If they drive back to-night, and the carriage is turned out of the road here, the earth will break off, and the whole thing will slide down, and that's an accident which might happen to the best driver, on a stormy night such as this will be.'"

"Only you might easily have gone down with the rest," said Gotthold.

"You mean, if I hadn't jumped out of the carriage at the right time? Bah, sir! It's no harder than to get off a horse that is running away, when one sees it is going to fall. I jumped out at the right time, and then the ground broke away, and slid down with a thundering, crashing sound, and then all was perfectly still, except that one or two small pieces cracked off and rattled down the slope, and the tempest swept howling and moaning over the morass; but that was nothing new to me, and it was perfectly still below.

"I stood up and looked down, wondering how far the land-slide had probably gone. If the marl had held together well, it had doubtless fallen into the bog, and with its speed and weight had been buried nobody knows how deep; but it had jolted violently on the way, and I had heard it; the whole carriage must have broken to pieces, and in that case everything might still be lying on the edge. I must know how matters were, so I made up my mind to climb down.

"But it was hard work; I could not find the right place in the dark, and nearly fell myself; at last, however, I reached the bottom of the slope."


"Well, then I groped around there; the moon had also broken through the clouds a little, and I soon found the carriage, or what was left of it; it was smashed into small pieces, and one horse was lying among them; it had broken its neck and was dead as a door-nail. Close beside the horse lay the Herr Assessor, but he was still breathing, and when I turned him on his back he groaned heavily, and then twitched several times; he would die without my help, and I had already taken the money out of his pocket, and buttoned up the coat again so that it might look as if he were lying just as he fell."

"Did you not look for me?"

"I looked, but I didn't find you; he told me afterwards that you were lying half-way down the slope, and besides the time I was crawling about in the dark seemed very long, and there was a rustling among the reeds, and then the other horse, which had broken loose from the carriage and run out into the morass with the pole--stupid beast!--began to scream, and it is a pitiful sound to hear a dying animal shriek in its agony, and so I came up again on dry land."

"And was Herr Brandow already there?"

"How do you know that?" asked Hinrich in astonishment.

"I only imagined so."

"No, he wasn't there then, but he came directly after, and I was furious because he had taken Brownlock; besides, what business had he there? I told him so too, and said he must go back at once; but he wouldn't; people had seen him ride away, and where should he say he had been when this story came out? I had offered him the package, but he knocked it out of my hand, and it lay on the ground between us, and I said it might stay there. 'So it can for aught I care,' said he; 'I didn't do it for the money;' and then he asked what had become of you? I gave him a short answer, for I was angry, and then he said I must turn back at once, and--and--'Do it alone, sir,' said I, 'I'll have nothing more to do with it.' He begged my pardon, but I wouldn't make up, out of pure ill-temper, and now he again grew anxious about what account he could give of his whereabouts during this time, till I said to him: 'As you have Brownlock under you, sir, you can just as well ride across the bog, and then you will get to Neuenhof as soon as if you had ridden away from Dollan directly after the gentlemen: I mean, of course, over the road.' He saw this too, but his courage failed, although he generally had plenty for such things, and I myself had ridden across the bog a week before under his own eyes; so I said to him: 'Then do what you choose, I must go and knock up the Prebrows now, or I shall come in for all the blame,' and then he rode away, and it was a splendid sight--I could see it distinctly, for the moon had come out--and the water dashed up under the hoofs--yes, it was a splendid sight to see how he rode."

Hinrich walked on a few steps in silence; suddenly he stopped short.

"And the way he has treated me is a sin and a shame; may God punish me if I don't pay him for it. He promised me ten per cent, of all Brownlock won, and he had ten thousand in his book then; but it may easily amount to as much again. And he knows I would give one of my hands to see Brownlock on the course, and have people point to me and say: 'That's Hinrich Scheel, who trained him; he understands those things better than all the English jockeys.' O Lord! Lord! and I'm to do all this for him, while he leaves me for a whole week in this kennel of Rahnkes' and I'm to come to Goritz the night before the boat, in which I'm to take passage, sails for Mecklenburg, and I must meet him in Goritz woods, and get the two thousand he promised me, but he was not there, and probably thought, 'He must go tomorrow, with or without the money;' but I'll pay him for it, by Heavens! I'll pay him for it."

"That would cost you quite as much as him," replied Gotthold; "or do you think the law will set you free because you did everything solely for your master's sake?"

"The law, sir! You won't deliver me up to the law," cried Hinrich.

"And if I should, could you blame me for it?"

Hinrich stopped short, but there was no possibility of escape. Jochen Prebrow's heavy hand rested on his shoulder, and Gotthold had just cocked the pistol, whose barrel glittered in the light of the nearest beacon, of which they were already within a very short distance. A single cry would summon the watchman, if he chose to push matters to extremities.

"I am in your power, sir," said he, "and I am not. Neither you nor any other man shall compel me to repeat what I have just told you before a court of justice. I may have imposed upon you with a false tale."

"That excuse will not avail you much, Hinrich; we have proofs that the money was not lost, but stolen and placed in your master's hands."

And in a few words he told him the contents of Wollnow's letter, adding what he had just learned from old Boslaf, that while searching the bog--to the great astonishment of the men--they had followed the hoof-prints of a horse several hundred paces; and Hinrich's denial would produce little effect in opposition to this and other well-established facts.

Hinrich had listened attentively.

"I still think you won't give me up to the law, sir," said he; "it's an ugly story, and the less said about it the better, for--for all concerned; but if it must be, why, sir, we poor men are never much better treated than dogs, and these last few days I have fared even worse; so I don't mind going to jail, if he only comes too."

It was too dark for Gotthold to see the cruel smile that played around the man's thick lips, as he uttered the last words.

"I think I can spare you the jail," he answered, "if you will promise to make no attempt at flight, and obey all my orders implicitly. I will require nothing unreasonable."

"I know that, sir," said Hinrich, "and here is my hand."

The hand that rested in Gotthold's was as hard as iron; but he thought he felt in its nervous pressure that the man intended to keep his word.

"Come, then," said he, "and, Jochen, show us a path by which we can reach your house without being seen, if possible."


"My poor dear friend! To think we must part again; it is really too hard. But don't be discouraged! Gretchen will get well, and everything will come out right at last."

Ottilie Wollnow said these words in the antechamber of her house in Sundin, to Gotthold, with whom she had just left the room where Cecilia and old Borlaf were watching Gretchen's feverish slumber.

"Everything," repeated Ottilie, as she saw that the look of deep sorrow on Gotthold's expressive face remained unchanged.

"You do not really think so yourself," he replied, gratefully pressing Ottilie's hand; "if the child dies, Cecilia, I fear, will never get over it, no matter how much, how entirely, that scoundrel is to blame; at any rate it will be another of those sad, torturing memories, which, according to her own confession to you, separate her from me forever."

Herr Wollnow came out of an adjoining room, ready for walking. Ottilie accompanied the two friends to the door. "I wish I could go with you," said she.

"And it would not be a bad thing," said Wollnow as the two friends walked through the dusky streets, in which to-day there was an unusual stir and bustle; "women have what in such cases removes mountains--the sovereign passion which we men, luckily for ourselves, have reasoned away, though without obtaining in exchange the sovereign calmness with which that strange old man met Brandow this morning. I would not speak of it in the ladies' presence. Brandow, with the acuteness for which even his enemies must give him credit, had made up his mind from the first moment that Cecilia must sooner or later come here, even if she did not do so at once. He therefore instantly turned round and drove here as fast as the horses could go; he must have met you just outside of Prora. Since that time he has lurked around my house and your lodgings; I admire the firmness with which he has maintained his usual calm manner, and his boldness in telling everybody that his wife had gone away to make a little visit, and the farce Cousin Borlaf had played with the farm-hands--searching the bog and forest--was a piece of roguery for which he would call the spiteful old man, with whom he had long been on bad terms, to a strict account. He must have had a hell of anxiety and dread in his heart, for his enemies--and he has not a few, foremost among whom are Redebas and the Plüggens--took an eager interest in circulating the worst reports, and the members of the committee on the races were on the point of formally demanding an explanation from Brandow, when yesterday evening he said at the club that his wife had arrived here half an hour before, and was staying with us: the Selliens had also requested the pleasure of her company, but the Assessor's health was not yet entirely restored, so he had given us the preference. In order to give his statement the proper weight, or--urged on by I know not what devil of impudence--as soon as he heard of Cecilia's arrival yesterday evening--I suppose through Alma Sellien, who unluckily was with my wife at the time--he rang the door-bell, and sent in his card to Ottilie. She would undoubtedly have been glad to receive him and give full vent to her feelings; but the old gentleman entered the room, and with the stately politeness which we of the last two generations have forgotten, begged her to leave him alone with Brandow a moment. It was, in fact, not more than a minute before the old gentleman rejoined the ladies with a mien as calm as ever; while the other rushed down the staircase, and Cecilia, who had no suspicion of his presence, was startled by the violence with which somebody banged the door. Here we are at the 'Golden Lion.' Let me go in alone. If we should not find him this evening, he ought not to know that you have returned."

Wollnow entered the wide hall, through whose open door a bright light streamed into the somewhat dusky street. There were a great many guests in the large hotel on account of the races, which had commenced to-day, and were to be continued to-morrow, so that Wollnow was obliged to ask several times before he could get a positive answer; and Gotthold was kept waiting longer than he expected. As, in walking up and down, he had for the second time proceeded some little distance from the house, a female figure suddenly emerged from a dark side-street, passed him, and instantly turned back with a murmured "Carl," raising her black veil at the same moment. In spite of the dim light, Gotthold recognized Alma Sellien.

"You are mistaken," said he.

Alma had also recognized him; she had felt so sure of her ground that terror almost robbed her of all presence of mind; but it was only for a moment. "It is fortunate it was no one else," she said, drawing a long breath, and then, as Gotthold made no reply, added: "I have begged him again and again to tell you; you must learn it sooner or later, and to you the news can give only pleasure; but he never would."

"And for good reasons."

"What reasons? Pray, pray tell me all."

"In another place and at another time; neither hour nor scene is suitable."

Wollnow came out of the hotel. "Another time, then," whispered Alma, as she drew down her veil and glided back into the dark street from which she had just emerged.

"Who was that?" asked Wollnow.

"This man will drag half the world into the mire with him," cried Gotthold.

"Where we should have sought him long ago, if we wanted to find him," replied Wollnow. "It was Frau Sellien, wasn't it? You betray no secret, it was one only to us; here the sparrows chatter it on the housetops. The man is making it easier for us than we expected; but it is a wonderful piece of luck that you caught Hinrich Scheel. If only the fellow's old clannish feeling doesn't break out again at the last moment."

"I do not think it will; for it is precisely because Brandow has so brutally wounded this feeling, so basely broken the faith due from the chief to his follower--that has excited and angered the rough but in his way honest man, to the highest degree. No, on the contrary, what I fear is that our treatment of Brandow will not satisfy him, and he will try to revenge himself in his own fashion."

"And is he so far wrong?" replied Wollnow earnestly, "are we not robbing the gallows of its victim? And even if we excuse ourselves by saying that there are crimes worse than highway robbery and murder, which do not come under the head of any law, cannot Hinrich Scheel quote the same thing himself, and demand that the breach of faith committed against him, and for whose condemnation he can certainly apply to no regular judge, shall not remain unpunished? But forgive my illogical obstinacy, my dear friend. I perceive that the future of more than one innocent person depends upon the secrecy with which we go to work. So let a Vehmgericht or a judgment from Heaven take the place of a public trial. Here we are at the club-house. I am sorry to leave you, but I feel with you that you must fight your way through this without seconds."

Gotthold walked up and down the brightly-lighted vestibule; loud voices, laughter, and the clinking of glasses echoed from the dining-room, into which a liveried servant had taken his card; the clerk was sitting in the office busily employed on his books; and the servants in the dressing-room had enough to do to take and deliver up the coats of the gentlemen who were constantly arriving and departing.

The man again appeared; Herr Brandow begged to be excused, but he was very busy just now; would not tomorrow morning be time enough?

"Time enough for what?" asked Gustav Von Plüggen, who had come out of the dining-room directly behind the servant, and greeted Gotthold with his usual noisy gayety, now increased by plentiful potations of wine. "What? Brandow very busy? Stuff and nonsense! Pressing business! He's sitting behind a bottle of Canary, writing one round sum after another in his damned betting-book. They're all determined to be fools, though Redebas and Otto and I have tired ourselves out talking; after what we saw at Dollan, everything is possible. It will turn out just as it did with Harry--Harry at the Derby, five years ago. Ever been in England? Famous country--women, horses, sheep--famous. An old joke of mine that always keeps fresh. What was I saying? do you want to speak to Brandow? But why don't you come in? It will be a pleasure to me to introduce an old schoolmate. Celebrated artist, hey? I heard some devilish good things yesterday at the chairman's from Prince Prora, who made your acquaintance in Rome, and is delighted to hear that you are in Sundin. Even spoke of seeking you out; curious; on the race-course to-morrow. By the way, got a ticket? Stand A? Don't hesitate, I beg; see, half-a-dozen left; gives me great pleasure. Come in!"

The servant had turned the handle of the door long before. The dining-room was crowded with people--members of the club, and their guests, among whom the officers of the garrison were especially numerous. They were sitting at different tables with bottles of champagne before them; a gay, even noisy conversation was going on; no one noticed the new-comers, not even Brandow, who had apparently just risen from the table, and was standing at the end of the apartment, in the midst of a group of people who were all talking to him at once, while he, holding up his betting-book, exclaimed: "One at a time, gentlemen! one at a time! since you are positively determined on being kind enough to make me a Cr[oe]sus. Trutwetter, one hundred and fifty! Please put your name underneath. Here, if you prefer! I have kept a place for Kummerrow's two hundred pistoles, Baron? No! Oh! dear, omen in nomine! who would have thought it? Another! Plüggen! Et tu Brutus? What is it? A gentleman--back again already? I am very busy! Tell the gentleman--"

Brandow suddenly paused; he had just seen Gotthold, who had been standing directly behind him.

"I have time to wait until you have finished your business here."

"It would detain you too long."

"I have plenty of time."

Gotthold withdrew from the circle with a polite but formal bow; Brandow had turned very pale, and stared sullenly at his betting-book, while the lead-pencil trembled in his hand. What was the meaning of the pertinacity with which this man pursued him? Should he rudely dismiss him before the whole company? But that was impossible without a scene, and this evening a scene might be dangerous.

"Now, Brandow! I have no time to wait!" cried a voice.

"Are you reckoning them up already?" asked a second.

"I really must run them over once," replied Brandow, closing the book; "have patience for a few minutes, gentlemen; it seems that there is a communication of some importance to be made to me. I'll be back again in a moment. Now may I ask your wishes?"

"The communication I have to make is indeed of some importance, and might be best heard without witnesses. So it is only in your own interest that I request you to provide some place where we shall not be disturbed."

"Have you considered that I shall probably have more to ask of you than you of me?"

"I think I have considered everything; and that is probably more than you can say."

They were standing somewhat apart from the others, speaking in low tones, and looking steadily into each other's eyes.

"Come, then," said Brandow.

"Who was that?" asked one of the gentlemen, whose autograph graced Brandow's betting-book.

"A famous fellow!" cried Gustav von Plüggen. "Old schoolmate of mine; celebrated artist; talked about him all yesterday evening at the chairman's! Protégé of Prince Prora's! Famous fellow! I'm going to have him paint me. In England every man of rank has himself painted with all his favorite horses and dogs, and all the rest of the family. Ever been in England, Kummerrow? Famous country--women, horses, sheep--everything famous!"


They crossed the hall in silence, and, without exchanging a word, entered one of the rooms reserved for the private use of the members of the club, and which the servant opened for the two gentlemen at a sign from Brandow. A large hanging lamp, directly over a round table covered with green velvet, lighted the apartment tolerably well. Several arm-chairs, also covered with green velvet, stood around the table.

"I suppose we shall be entirely undisturbed here," said Gotthold.

"And I that the farce will not last long; you saw I was very busy."

Brandow, as if in a fit of impatience, had drawn one of the chairs away from the table and thrown himself into it, but it was by no accident that his face was thus in the shadow, while the light streamed full on Gotthold's.

"Very busy," repeated Brandow, drumming on the arm of the chair, "too busy not to be compelled to defer the account I have to settle with you until tomorrow morning. And if you should have the--the face to try to intimidate me, I say: Beware! beware! you do not yet know me; my patience is not inexhaustible, and however willing I might be to avoid a scandal, and for these few days, I freely confess, would fain escape it--if you urge me, and it must be--I am ready--ready at any moment."

Brandow had spoken in a loud, threatening tone; but he had evidently failed in his object. Gotthold's eye rested upon him so calmly--with a glance of contempt, as it seemed to him--that he could not bear the gaze, and suddenly paused with a secret thrill of terror, as Gotthold now quietly opened a letter he had just taken out of his pocket.

"Will you read this letter before you say more?"

Brandow had not the courage to refuse.

"From the noble Wollnow, apparently, to me and about you?"

"Yes, it is from Wollnow, but to me and about you."

"About me! that's strange, and passably long too."

He tried to feign a yawn as he let the sheets slip through his fingers; but had scarcely cast a glance at them, and read the first lines, when he started up like a madman, and hurling the letter upon the table, exclaimed:

"This is infamous! This demands blood! I will see nothing more, hear nothing more! I will not be the patient victim of a vulgar intrigue. We will speak of this again, sir, we will speak of this again."

He wandered restlessly up and down the room; Gotthold remained quietly in his seat.

"You have a moment to decide whether you will read the letter, or whether I shall show it to Count Zarrentin, before taking farther steps."

Brandow paused in his walk. "So you really mean to have a scandal! I thought so. Well, perhaps it will be worth the trouble, to see how you intend to begin."

He threw himself into his chair again, seized the letter, and began to read it with the air of a man who wished to get rid of a troublesome petitioner. A scornful smile played around his lips. "I was mistaken," he muttered as if talking to himself, "it is simply ridiculous, utterly ridiculous."

But his lips were pale; the smile changed to a grin, and his hands trembled more and more. He had read very rapidly at first; but the farther he proceeded the longer he lingered over every separate sentence, and even word. Many he seemed to weigh and test two or three times, and he made a pretence of reading long after he had evidently reached the end. At last, amid the terrible tumult of his soul, a resolution was formed.

"You were going to give this--letter to our chairman," he said, carefully folding the sheets; "I have no objection, but on one condition."

He withdrew the hand with which he had held out the letter to Gotthold.

"On condition that I may first take a copy of this precious document, to serve as a basis for the charge of scandal I shall bring against the noble writer and delicate-minded receiver of this bungling performance. To a man so extremely just as yourself, a man who does not hesitate, on the most absurd proofs, to charge his friend with the most horrible crimes, this will doubtless be perfectly agreeable."

"Entirely so," replied Gotthold; "you can also keep the original. The letter was merely to make you acquainted with certain things, to which I did not wish to refer verbally, and has performed its work."

"And this interesting conversation is over," said Brandow, rising; "I mean for to-day; to-morrow we shall have more to say to each other; only the tables will be turned. The things of which I shall accuse you are no shameful inventions like the story about the bills, or silly fancies like the horrible murder of Hinrich Scheel, which you will probably cry, with all the terrible details, at the next fair, but facts, positive facts--a pretty commentary on the song of the worthy man, who knows how to make no better use of the hospitality offered him, than--you have done. So farewell until to-morrow!"

Brandow walked towards the door with a wave of the hand intended to be contemptuous; Gotthold stepped before him.

"You will probably have patience a short time longer, when I tell you that your future fate must be decided now and here."

"My fate? Are you mad?"

"Decide for yourself. Hinrich Scheel was found by me yesterday evening in Wiessow, where he had concealed himself, and is now at my lodgings guarded by the brothers Prebrow."

Brandow staggered back as if a bullet had struck him, until his hand clutched the arm of a chair, and in that attitude stood staring at Gotthold with eyes that seemed starting from their sockets.

"Hinrich Scheel!" he stammered.

"Whom you thought had disappeared from the scene forever, though you were careless or niggardly enough not even to pay off your accomplice properly. I am now obliged to have him watched, not to prevent his escape--he has no wish to fly, he will endure any punishment if only the man for whom he did what he did, does not escape; I have him watched simply to prevent his taking this punishment into his own harsh, cruel hands."

Brandow had sunk into the chair. His shameless courage and elastic strength seemed to have utterly deserted him; he looked ten years older; but suddenly he started up again.

"Bah!" he cried, "do you think you can frighten me in that way? If that rascal Hinrich has allowed himself to be caught, so much the worse for him! What harm can he do me? I hope my word will weigh no less than that of a rascally groom, who has evidently been bribed by my enemies. A man who knows himself innocent cares nothing for bribery: or do you really expect to make any one believe that, if even a suspicion could have fallen upon me from any quarter, I would have let the fellow go without securing his silence in some way? That is certainly sheer nonsense: or will you say, he gave him nothing, so that if he were caught no one would ask, From whom and for what did you get this money? Settle it among yourselves, and do as you please--an honest man like me laughs at your threats."

Again he went towards the door, but his step grew slower the nearer he approached it; and ere he reached the threshold, he turned on his heel and came up to Gotthold with a smile on his lips.

"Let us drop the tragic masks, Gotthold, and talk like sensible people; what are your conditions?"

"The first is that you shall confess the deeds of which Wollnow's letter accuses you. You know what I mean."

"Not entirely. Is the confession only for yourself?"

"If you consent to the other conditions, yes."

"Very well; I did what I am said to have done. What more?"

"That which follows as a matter of course. The daughter of an honorable family cannot and shall not be the wife of a criminal. That is, you will give your consent to everything we--I mean Herr Bogislas Wenhof, Wollnow and I--may dictate in regard to the divorce."

"And my daughter?"

"Answer the question yourself."

"I love the child."

"You lie, Brandow; and even were it possible, as it is impossible, you would still have forever forfeited the right to keep her, or even maintain any communication with her. I hope she will forget you are her father."

"Which, however, I shall ever remain, and, _mon cher_, I'll give you this knowledge, which is doubtless uncommonly pleasing, as a wedding-present; or don't you intend to carry to a fitting end the business you have so beautifully begun?"

"The point in question is your destiny, not mine."

"Which, however, seems to be somewhat nearly connected with me. Or did you want me to believe you were doing all this for the service of God? Pshaw, my dear friend, our acquaintance is not a thing of yesterday, and our paths do not cross here and now for the first time. I have been in your way, and you in mine, on the schoolroom benches, the playground, at the dancing-lessons, and everywhere; I supplanted you in those days, and gave you a punishment to remember all your life. Well, you have done so, and this is the reprisal. I have lost the game--by a single foolish play--no matter! I have lost it; and I am too old a gambler not to understand and feel that it is my fate; but the game is not yet over; we shall meet again, and he who laughs last, laughs best."

The man's eyes flashed glances of deadly hate, as he strode up and down the room with hasty steps. His sharp teeth gnawed his livid lips, and he tugged and tore at the ends of his long fair mustache, as he again paused and said:--

"Only one question more. Shall I also have to provide the dowry?"

"I don't know what you mean by that; I only know we intend to leave you to take your own course as soon as you have paid your debt--outwardly at least--and replaced the sum stolen. You will have a chance to do so to-morrow. It is gambler's money, but that don't concern us."

"And if I don't win?"

"You will work. Dollan has been leased to you for five years more; you can, if you choose--and you will be compelled to choose--pay back in less than half the time the ten thousand thalers I shall advance to you--it is almost the last remnant of my fortune. At any rate the package will be found on Dollan moor to-morrow evening, and day after to-morrow be in the coffers of the convent."

"How well you have provided for yourself!"

"And you too. If we drove you from your home, as you deserve--for you are not worthy to have German laborers call you master--you would go to ruin in the shortest possible time, and that, for your child's sake, I do not desire."

Brandow essayed a scornful laugh, but Gotthold's last words, and the tone in which he uttered them, closed his lips.

"You said just now, Brandow, that you loved your child: it was a lie; if you had done so even a little, for her sake you would at least have kept yourself innocent of crime. You have never loved any one except yourself, and that with a coarse, vain, egotistical love, which had no trace of respect for the sacredness of that which even the roughest men reverence. Yet--although this is my honest opinion--I am a man, and may be mistaken; perhaps it will touch your heart, when you hear that your child is ill, very ill--that we shall possibly only be able to prolong her innocent young life a few days. It is terrible to say it, but I cannot lighten the burden you have laid upon your conscience: if it dies, you have killed it."

"I?" faltered Brandow; "I?"

"Yes, you! You who made life worthless to her mother," replied Gotthold, turning to Brandow. "Or did you think the blow you dealt the mother would not strike the child, too? That the latter would not drink death from the poisoned cup of life you gave the former? You cannot have thought so, for you had based your whole plan upon this mutual love between the mother and child; you thought the bond that united their souls strong enough to bear your whole shameful web of falsehood and deceit, treachery and violence. I say once more: if it dies, you have killed it. Understand this clearly, man, if you can. It is so horrible that everything else you have done is innocent in comparison; it is so fearful that you must realize it."

Gotthold walked several paces, and then paused before his enemy, who sat cowering in his chair with his head resting on his hands.

"Brandow, they say that years ago, when, struck down by your sword, I lay on the ground before you, you dealt me a second blow. It has always been impossible for me to believe it, even now it is difficult; but however that may be, I cannot give a death-blow to any one lying on the ground, no matter who he is, or what he may have done; but neither can I hold out my hand to a worthless man, even if he extends his imploringly to me. Remember this, Brandow. Perhaps the moment will come sooner than you believe possible."

Gotthold left the room; Brandow still sat in the same attitude into which he had first sunk, staring steadily at the carpet. A dreary smile flitted over his pale face.

"That was a fine sermon," he muttered; "highly edifying! He got that from his father, the parson! And I sit here, and let myself be made out a villain by the miserable babbler, the cursed hypocrite, and don't hurl all he says back into his canting face. Bah!"

He started up and wandered about the room.

"Folly, folly, folly! Her love for this dauber is not a thing of to-day or yesterday; she has always loved him; she has never been able to forgive herself for stooping to wed me, the haughty Princess! I knew it from the first! And was I to pocket the insult quietly, act as if I did not notice it, be satisfied with the crumbs thrown to me? I should have been a fool! Nobody would have done so in my place, and I've only done what any one else would, what thousands do who have not even my excuse. Alma would have run away from her silly husband long ago, if I had wanted her, if I had not always dissuaded her. But that would have been just the right grist for their mill; their only regret is that I have not made it easier for them. And I've made it easy enough now. Fool, fool! How I might have made them writhe, how I might make them writhe, if it were not for the accursed money. They put a stone in my path for me to stumble over, and I did them the favor, and now they stand and triumph!"

He strode up and down the room like a caged tiger.

"But it is not always night. A little more, and I should have wept over that sentimental speech, as if it had been the truth, as if she had not taught the child to hate me, as if it had the slightest trace of resemblance to me, and might not just as well have been his, which it probably would, if he had then been the noble family friend for which he passes now. I have let myself be caught in the snare like a stupid boy. It came too suddenly; I was not calm enough; and Hinrich's reappearance was a shameful blow. Who would have thought it, after the fellow had once been so foolish as to draw all the suspicion upon himself, and I had made things so hot for him here! He shall pay for it, if he ever crosses my path again--the scoundrel; he shall pay for it. He and the daubing parson's son, and the old vagabond, and the damned Jew, and she--she--"

He paused before one of the large mirrors which covered the walls of the room between the windows from floor to ceiling.

"So I wasn't good enough for her. Other people think differently in this respect. The fact is, I sold myself too cheap. A fellow like me might have made very different pretensions; nay, can still at any moment, though I look now as Don Juan did last night when the devil was chasing him. But it's only the green glass and the dim light."

A knock at the door interrupted his gloomy soliloquy. It was a servant, who came to ask whether Herr Brandow was not coming back to the dining-room soon.

"At once," said Brandow.

He cast another glance at the mirror. "I'm rather deplorable-looking still. No matter! Or so much the better. They will think I am anxious about to-morrow, and fall into the snare all the easier, the blockheads! And to-morrow noon I shall have my thirty or forty thousand in my purse, and--all the rest is nonsense."


The clearest September morning shone upon the old Hanse city, whose narrow winding streets were remarkably quiet to-day, so quiet that the servant-girls who stood idly at the open doors of the houses could bewail their piteous fate to each other across them undisturbed. Was it not too shameful that the second day--the great day, when everybody, even the little apprentices from the cobblers' benches, had gone to see the show--they were obliged to stay and take care of the houses? And Kopp's carriage had just come back empty for the sixth time, and was now stopping at the apothecary's round the corner; but the young ladies always made such a parade, and were never ready; it was a sin and a shame, when one thought that other honest girls, who certainly wouldn't keep the carriage waiting, were not allowed to set foot outside of the door; but when the cat was away the mice would play.

The merry girls, who had approached nearer and nearer each other, joined hands and began to whirl around on the rough pavement, out of the sunlight into the shadow of the houses, and out of the shadow back into the sunlight, and then with a scream scattered and fled, each into her own door, as the strange gentleman came out of a large, silent house near by.

Gotthold had watched all night beside Gretchen's bed with Cecilia and old Boslaf, and good Stine had gone in and out. Several times they thought the last moment had come; but the little heaving breast, which Cecilia had pressed to her own, rose and fell more easily again, and she laid the sweet little creature back upon the pillows, which were scarcely whiter than her delicate pale face. After midnight the fever became a little less violent, and the Doctor, who came early in the morning, said that the danger, unfortunately, was not yet over, but a few quieter hours might be expected, and he urgently entreated them to use this interval in gaining fresh strength, which they certainly greatly needed.

He had looked at old Boslaf as he spoke, but the old man smiled pleasantly, and said that the Doctor must not be anxious about him; he was used to night-watching, and should soon have plenty of time to sleep. But Cecilia, who was full of tender solicitude for the old man, whom she now always called father, insisted that he should lie down, and sent Gotthold away also. She would keep watch with Ottilie until noon; if Gretchen's condition should change for the worse, he should be notified at once.

And so he now walked through the silent street towards his lodgings, gazed at the girls dancing merrily, the sunlight shining so brightly on the gray old gables, and the flock of white doves wheeling in airy circles under the bright blue sky. How beautiful the world was! How pure and balmy the soft warm air he eagerly inhaled! How lightly he strode along, in spite of the long night of anxious watching! How the blood bounded in his veins! And yet darkness and death might conquer! If the child died--Gotthold paused with a shudder--he had seen, the little dark mound so distinctly. But it was only a trick of his imagination; Gretchen was still alive; she would recover; the delicate little creature had struggled through this terrible night, and he might even be permitted to say that it was he who had saved her life once more. So she must live for him; her pure soft hands must fit the keystone of the building of his happiness. Had he not hitherto succeeded in everything far beyond his expectation! Had not even chance showed him her most gracious aspect! A few days ago, how could he even have ventured to hope that his rival would be so soon and so entirely delivered into his hands, and he should be able to say, "This shall be done, and it shall be done so and so, without any outcry, without the knowledge of any person unconcerned?" This very evening the unfortunate man was to return to Dollan to find the money he had stolen, and the following day restore it to the treasury of the convent, through Wollnow; and this evening also, the vessel which took his accomplice would sail for England, the latter having declared of his own free will that he could no longer stay here, and would rather go at once to America, especially if the gentlemen would provide him with money as generously as they had promised, and he knew they would keep their word. So within twenty-four hours at latest everything would be settled and levelled to a foundation on which another structure might be erected.

A quick, heavy step, which came towards him through the deserted street near his lodgings, made Gotthold look up.

"What is the matter, Jochen?"

"He's gone," said Jochen, panting for breath. "I was just on my way to tell you."

"Since when?"

"It must have been an-hour or two ago; he said he was tired and would take a little nap, while Clas and I went down to Frau Müller's, who had invited us to breakfast. Well, Herr Gotthold, there we sat quietly; she had a nice pork sausage, and we never thought of any mischief, and meantime the fellow jumped out of a second-story window into the garden, which joins the city wall, and the gate is never locked, and we really are not to blame. Even if one don't exactly like a man, how is one to suppose he has such tricks in his head?"

"An hour, you said?"

Jochen nodded.

"Where is Clas?"

"Gone down to the harbor; it's just possible he may have gone on board the ship to look about him a little."

Gotthold shook his head. "That is extremely improbable, after, as he knows, everything is arranged."

"What shall we do, Herr Gotthold?"

"Run to Herr Wollnow and tell him what has happened, and that I have gone out to the races; and follow me as fast as you can."

Jochen looked amazed. "Yes, to be sure, Herr Gotthold, that's possible; he talked of nothing but the races all last evening."

Gotthold had already taken several steps, when Jochen followed him.

"You're not angry with me and my brother Clas, Herr Gotthold?"

"You good, stupid fellows!"

Jochen looked very much moved, and doubtless wished to say more; but Gotthold pressed his hard, honest hand, and hurried down the street to the gate, beyond which, at no very great distance from the city, was the race-course.

He knew the way only from description; but it could not be missed to-day. The nearer he approached the gate, the more numerous became the people, who were all moving in the same direction; the suburban street through which they were obliged to pass had assumed a holiday garb. The modest little villas, half concealed behind the trees in their garden, were to-day adorned with garlands and tapestry; here and there, under the shade of the boughs, stood an old gentleman, or a gardener, or a nurse with a baby in her arms, looking pityingly or mischievously over the dusty hedges at the throng hurrying by in the summer heat. Often one of the long Holstein wagons, furnished with five or six seats placed one behind the other, rattled by, empty if going towards the city, crowded with people if driving away from it; and it rarely happened that the usual jokes failed to be exchanged between the lucky occupants and the dust-covered foot-passengers.

Gotthold had already passed many of the pedestrians, and was still hurrying anxiously on. To be sure, it was scarcely to be hoped that either he or Jochen would find the man in such a crowd of people, especially as he evidently did not wish to be found; but that the race-course was the place to seek him, he did not doubt for a moment, and as he now hastened on the fugitive's track his heart grew heavier and heavier, the more clearly he perceived the bad results that threatened to ensue. If Hinrich had fled not to return, to become once more the master of his own fate, and Brandow learned it in time, he would retract all he had yielded; the battle must begin anew, and with an enemy who could not again be surprised; if Hinrich was only seeking an opportunity to revenge himself, Brandow's life was not safe a moment from the brutal violence of the man, and even admitting that Brandow was a person who could defend himself--everything which had seemed won was once more doubtful, even the secrecy in which the pitiful fate of the woman he loved had hitherto been veiled from an insolent, curious world.

Gotthold hurried on still faster, hoping he should now soon reach his goal, but he turned out of one street lined with gardens into another--the suburbs seemed to have no end. It was still half an hour's walk to the racecourse, was the reply to his question.

A light open carriage, drawn by two superb horses, overtook and dashed past him; he thought he had seen the face of the elegant young man who occupied the seat behind the driver before. The young man turned towards him, and instantly tapped his coachman eagerly on the shoulder; the carriage stopped; its occupant sprang out and hastily approached Gotthold, waving his hand, and calling: "Do I meet you at last?"

A moment after, Gotthold was seated beside young Prince Prora, the horses dashed onward, and dusty pedestrians, hedges, gardens, villas, and barns flitted by them on either side.

"You don't know how glad I am," said the Prince, pressing Gotthold's hand again; "but you will when I tell you that I came from Berlin, where I was engaged in a most important consultation with Schinkel about my castle, solely on your account. Count Ingenheim wrote that you had left Rome, and I heard from Prora that you were staying in this neighborhood, so I came to seek, see, talk, persuade, obtain--enfin: you must paint my castle in fresco. I have set my heart upon it, and you, I suppose, have no reason to say no: Schinkel desires it too, so you must consent. He wants you, you and nobody else; I know no one by whom I can be so sure of being understood, he said, and was delighted when I told him that I had had the honor of a personal acquaintance with you for a long time, and had spent the most delightful winter in Rome in your society. Ah! that divine Rome! But you conjurers shall restore it to me on the walls of my northern castle; I want nothing but Roman, or at least Italian, landscapes in the dining-room; all bright and sunny as you can paint so marvellously, grave as you are; and as for the landscapes of my native country, which we intend to have in the hall where the weapons are hung, I won't interfere with you at all. It shall be left entirely to you; and you can revel in melancholy, like the Danish Prince, but first of all you must say yes--will you?"

The eager young man held out his hand, and a shadow crossed his delicate, winning face as Gotthold hesitated to clasp it. How willingly, how joyfully he would have accepted a commission so delightful, so complimentary, and so important; a commission which promised to fulfil all that his artist heart could only desire; but now, to-day--

"You don't wish to undertake it?" said the young Prince, sadly.

"I do wish it, certainly I do," replied Gotthold, pressing the outstretched hand with deep emotion, "but whether I can is the question I am asking myself, and which at this moment I can scarcely answer with a yes. Forgive me if I speak in riddles, Your Highness, but there are hours and times when we do not belong to ourselves, when we are under the spell of a fate whose course we can neither hasten nor retard, and whose decision we must await ere we can feel free to make any resolution ourselves."

"I certainly do not fully understand you," replied the Prince, "but I believe I understand that something, which is certainly no trifle, is weighing upon your mind; that you have either met with or fear some great misfortune, and in that case the question comes so naturally that you will forgive my asking: can any one help you, and can I be the person?"

"I thank you, Your Highness; but I shall probably have to fight my way through it alone."

"Then I will press you no farther; but I am ready to serve you at any time, don't forget that."

Meantime they had emerged from between the houses; before them on the boundless expanse of meadow-land was the race-course, with its tall stands, its little city of booths and tents, its long rows of carriages drawn up side by side, its dark crowd of curious spectators. A party of horsemen dashed past them at a furious gallop; one of them, not without difficulty, checked his foaming racer and came to the carriage door.

"What, Plüggen, are you not with the others?" cried the Prince.

"Paid the forfeit at the last minute, Your Highness, at the last minute--too certain it would turn out to-day as it did at the Derby, four years ago. Once in--ah! Gotthold, _bon jour, bon jour!_ Your friend Brandow's doing a splendid business to-day, an infernally splendid business."

"How far away are they, then? Am I too late?"

"God forbid, your Highness! That is, they must be here in ten minutes. Just up to the last obstacle but one; everybody there--intense excitement. Exactly as it was at the Derby four years ago, when Hurry-Harry by Robin Hood out of Drury Lane--"

"Then we won't detain you, Plüggen. _Au revoir_ until this evening; drive on."

Gustav von Plüggen, with rather a long face, touched his hat, turned his horse, and dashed after his companions.

"So you know this Brandow?" asked the Prince. "It's a pity about that man; he would have had, I think, the material for a splendid general of cavalry; a clear head, a keen eye, never at a loss, and withal brave even to foolhardiness; but amid these tame plebeian surroundings he will make, I fear, nothing better than a _mauvais sujet_. But it is shameful that they took the piece of bog into the course on purpose to injure him. I hear it was only done to give the other horses a chance, since it is generally believed that a horse of Brownlock's weight cannot cross a swamp."

"He will cross it, Your Highness," said Gotthold, "you can bet a million on it."

"How comes Saul among the prophets?" cried the Prince, laughing. "Since when have you become such a connoisseur in horse-flesh? You must keep beside me, and act as prompter, if I, a notorious dilettante in these noble arts, run any risk of distinguishing myself by my blunders."

"I am sure that Your Highness--"

"You want to get rid of me, I understand. Well, I am very well content, now that I have seen and spoken to you. I shall stay three days longer in Sundin, and then remain a week in Prora, where you must be my guest, even in case--with which idea, however, I won't destroy my present good humor--you will not paint a stroke for my castle. Here we are; you will surely come up with me. One can get a better view from above, and you must at least allow me to secure you a good place."

The carriage stopped. The Prince sprang out, and, without waiting for Gotthold's answer, began to ascend the steps of the stand. The latter was obliged to follow his friend, who fully expected him to do so; when once at the top, he could easily find an opportunity of taking leave of him without incivility.

The steps and stand were crowded, but every one was eager to make way for the Prince, who was very popular, that he might reach the first bench, on which several seats had been reserved for him and his attendants. "I think your best course will be to follow me," cried the Prince, laughing, and looking over his shoulder at Gotthold, "you see here as elsewhere: everything is given away!" But Gotthold could not do otherwise than make use of the permission. The narrow space which had been opened between the rows of seats for the Prince had long since closed; nay, those behind were pressing forward to get as near him as possible, and Gotthold soon found himself surrounded by a brilliant assembly of the older and younger ladies of the country aristocracy, in magnificent attire; white-haired old noblemen, civil dignitaries adorned with orders, and distinguished soldiers, all smiling brightly and bowing to the young Prince, who, bowing in every direction, graciously accepted the offered homage.

"Your Highness has come just at the right moment; we shall see the first horse appear from behind yonder hill directly; may I offer Your Highness my glass?" cried old Count Grieben, in his shrill voice.

"Thanks, thanks; I should not like to rob you; you are more nearly interested in the matter than I; I suppose the goal is here in front of the stands, as it has been every year?"

"Yes, Your Highness, there they come!"

The Prince had now taken the glass from the old gentleman; there was a loud whispering and rustling on the stand. "There they come--pray sit down," echoed on all sides, and all eyes, whether furnished with glasses or not, sought the long hill Count Grieben had pointed out to the Prince, and on which in fact three moving specks now became visible, which with great speed, considering the distance, glided down the hill, and had already disappeared in a hollow, when four or five other moving dots appeared in precisely the same spot, likewise glided down the hill, and vanished. But the interest of the public was almost exclusively fixed upon the three foremost dots. From the interval of time between the appearance of the first three specks and the four following--to say nothing of the stragglers--it was now evident that the victor must be one of their number; and although even the best glass could only distinguish that the three moving clots were horsemen racing at the top of their speed, two names were already mentioned with positive certainty; there was a doubt about the third rider; some thought it was Baron Kummerrow on Hengist, while others bet upon Count Zarrentin's Rebecca, ridden by the younger Baron Breesen.

"But the two others, Your Highness--the two others are my Curt and Carl Brandow," shrieked old Count Grieben, crimson with excitement and gesticulating furiously, in a tone so loud that it could be heard over the whole stand.

Count Grieben! Carl Brandow! Like an alarm of fire the names flew from lip to lip along the stand, down the steps, and through the dense throng of men below, who were standing on tiptoe and stretching their necks; Count Grieben! Carl Brandow on Brownlock!

Carl Brandow! A strange emotion thrilled Gotthold's frame. That was the name which, like the spell of some evil magician, had desolated and ruined his life; the name with which so many unpleasant thoughts had been connected from his youth, and which in early and later times, and even during the last few days, had been to him the incarnation of the principle that in every human breast strives and rebels against the God of light. And here the name rang on his ears from every lip. Carl Brandow! Carl Brandow! like a man from whose approach streams happiness and blessing; and beautiful eyes sparkled, and aristocratic hands impatiently fluttered the lace-edged handkerchiefs with which they wished to wave a welcome to the victor. Was the man whom a whole people thus awaited in breathless suspense, perhaps right when he ventured all and anything to gain his shining goal; wealth, and honor, and woman's favor? Could one who took every obstacle so boldly, be expected to turn aside from his path for a pious scruple? Could one who unhesitatingly risked his life when the victory could not be obtained at a lesser price, be blamed if he was not so punctilious about the weal and woe or even the lives of others, as may be expected and demanded from the quiet citizen?

Such were the strange thoughts that passed through Gotthold's brain, while his eyes, like those of the assembled thousands, were fixed upon the spot pointed out by the experts near him as the one where the riders must again appear. And there they were already--now recognizable as horsemen, even by the naked eye--and "Count Grieben and Carl Brandow" burst forth anew. For only two emerged at the same time, while the third had already lost so much ground that he appeared full thirty seconds later. Nothing more was to be expected from him. At the speed with which the horses were running a lost second could not be regained, let alone the eternity of thirty! The result now depended upon Brownlock and Bessy, the two horses that had been the object of public attention from the first moment and on which immense sums had been staked up to the last. Would Brownlock win? Would Bessy carry off the prize? No one dared to decide, no one offered or accepted a bet; they scarcely ventured to speak, to stir; suspense had chained every tongue. The scales were still exactly poised, without bending in the least towards either side. If Bessy, as was universally asserted, was the faster animal, Brandow's well-known skill in horsemanship made up for the difference; head to head--the winding course to the stand could be as distinctly followed as the lines on a map--the horses leaped over the last hurdle but three, the last but two, the last but one; side by side the riders took the last obstacle, a wall six feet high, while a cry of admiration buzzed through the surging crowd. Then followed a breathless silence. The race must be decided within the next minute. After the last hurdle was a tract of perfectly level ground about five hundred paces long; then came several hundred acres of bog, marked by little flags affixed to poles. If Brownlock did not get a very considerable lead on the level ground, the race was lost to him; for Bessy--every one knew--could cross a marsh as lightly as a roe, and Brownlock would either stick fast or must take a round-about way, which would cost him his advantage and the victory.

But Brownlock obtained no advantage, not a foot, not an inch; head to head they dashed across half the distance, and now Bessy took the lead, a half, a whole length, two, three, a half-dozen lengths. Those who had bet on Brownlock turned pale, but a hundred times as much was staked on Bessy; the betters exchanged triumphant glances; no one had time to speak; Bessy was already approaching the edge of the bog; her rider was seen to turn in his saddle to note the distance between him and his rival, and now he turned to the left towards the edge of the swamp. "Clever fellow," cried old Count Grieben; "it's wider, Your Highness, it's wider there, but the ground is firmer, and he has plenty of time. Brownlock can't come up with her, hurrah!" cried the enthusiastic old gentleman, waving his hat. "Hurrah, hurrah!" echoed from the fickle crowd, which had just cheered Brownlock; "Bessy wins, Brownlock loses. Hurrah!"

Suddenly a deep silence followed, as if a thunderbolt had fallen before the eyes of all. Brandow reached the spot from which, a few seconds before, Count Grieben, rendered secure of the victory by his opponent's delay, had turned aside; and with a powerful bound Brownlock dashed upon the bog, without turning a hair's breadth from the straight course, flying directly over the deepest but narrowest part, with a speed which seemed to increase every moment, while his rider, as if going over the smoothest meadow-land, used neither whip nor spur, and waved his hand to his rival, as he darted by him with such speed that the water dashed into the air in a bright shower of spray.

And now he had already reached the edge on the side nearest the stand, and came up the broad straight course which led to the goal--no longer at full speed, but in a long stretching gallop, as if to jeer at his opponent, who after reaching the firm ground, despairing of victory, had stopped; it seemed as if he wished to give the crowd an opportunity to offer their homage.

And "Hurrah Brownlock! hurrah Brandow!" they shouted, waving their hats and caps, and the cry increased and swelled to a deafening, thundering roar as the victor now rode past the stands to the goal, in the same long stretching gallop. Everybody stood on tiptoe, the gentlemen cheering, the ladies waving their handkerchiefs--and now all crowded down the broad steps to the level ground, to see the victor and the beautiful horse still nearer, when he, as was customary, returned and again passed before the stands, but this time at a walk.

"No privileges are recognized here, strength conquers," said the Prince, who as well as Gotthold was pushed down the steps by the swaying crowd; "the strength of enthusiasm, which is powerful even in the weak. Just see how heroically that delicate lady struggles through the throng--Is it Frau Brandow? I should like to offer her my arm."

The lady's blue veil brushed against Gotthold's face, and he recognized Alma Sellien. She did not see him, though she stood directly beside him. The delicate, wan face was strangely beautified by the proud smile that hovered on the lips; a joyous light sparkled in the blue eyes, usually so dull and heavy; heeding nothing around her, she looked and waited for the coming of the man she loved, whose uncovered head was just visible above the surging crowd. And now a pair of bay shoulders appeared, vanished, and appeared again, then the beautiful head of a horse, and then the whole figure of the red-coated rider. Those standing in the foremost row, recognizing the Prince, made way, and he, with several other ladies and gentlemen, among them Alma Sellien, were pressed forward, while the ranks closed before Gotthold, who willingly drew back. Brandow, who, hat in hand, was bowing to the right and left, and talking to a few friends that surrounded him, had come very near them, when he saw the Prince, with Alma Sellien leaning on his arm. An amazed smile flitted over his face; he hastily turned Brownlock till he faced the pair, and bowed low over the racer's slender neck. The noble animal stood snorting, champing its bit, and pawing impatiently. Suddenly it sprang aside in wild alarm, and then, as its rider tried to force it back to the spot, reared. "Back!" shouted the Prince to the crowd, who, pressing forward from every direction, had collected in a dense mass. But those farther away, whom no immediate danger threatened, remained motionless. "Back, back!" cried the Prince again; the ladies screamed. "Jump down, Brandow!" exclaimed the gentlemen. But Brandow seemed to have forgotten his universally admired horsemanship. Some said afterwards that he had been stunned from the first moment by the violence with which, as the horse threw back its head in rearing, it struck him on the forehead. As he vainly struggled with the animal in an inconceivably preposterous manner, his eyes were fixed intently upon a man in the crowd, who in some way--all were pressing upon each other in wild confusion--had reached the foremost rank, and now, with upraised arms, sprang directly before, nay under the rearing horse; it was supposed he wanted to pull the furious animal down by the bridle.

"Let me pass, for God's sake!" cried Gotthold.

He had recognized Hinrich Scheel, although he had only seen the square head, covered with gray curling hair, from which the cap had been knocked in pressing through the crowd; not the brutal face with the squinting green eyes, under whose fiendish power the frightened animal reared higher and higher, pawing the air with its steel-shod hoofs as if it would fain destroy its tormentor. And now one of the hoofs struck the head of the mysterious man, who fell as if a bullet had pierced his brain; but at the same moment the horse, again rearing, fell backwards, burying his rider under him. The crowd parted with shrieks of horror.

"A doctor, a doctor, is there no doctor here?"

There was none, but no physician could have been of any avail. The man who had tried to seize the horse's bridle, and in whom others also now recognized Brandow's former trainer, Hinrich Scheel, for whose arrest a warrant had been issued, lay dead on his back with crushed skull and horribly distorted face, from which the dim eyes glared frightfully; his master still lived, but Gotthold, who was supporting him in his arms, saw that his end was fast approaching. A deathlike pallor rested on the delicate, clear-cut features, and the white teeth gleamed with a strange, frightful expression from between livid lips. A shudder convulsed the whole body, and the head fell on Gotthold's breast.

"Here comes a doctor," cried several voices.

"He will find nothing to do," murmured Gotthold; "help me to carry him away."

As they raised the body, a lady in a blue veil, who had been standing near with her hands clenched convulsively, shrieked aloud, and sank fainting on the ground. No particular notice was taken of it. Several ladies had fainted.


A wondrously beautiful autumn, with mild golden days, and clear starry nights, brooded over the country. Everywhere summer roses bloomed in the gardens beside the asters, and the forests were very slow in decking themselves in brilliant hues. The air was so still that the floating threads of gossamer scarcely stirred, and when a leaf fell it remained just where it touched the ground. The birds of passage had paused in their migration, and chirped and--twittered among the fields and hedges with their merry little voices, while in the evening the wild swans, which usually, long ere this time, had soared away on their strong white wings, called to each other along the shore.

It was a wondrously beautiful autumn, which seemed marvellously like summer; "but it is only an illusion," said Cecilia, "the summer is over, winter is close at hand, and I must prepare for it."

She had been six weeks in Dollan, which she had never expected to enter, never hoped to see again. But the physicians had urgently desired that, to secure perfect recovery from her severe illness, if a winter's residence in the South was impracticable, Gretchen should at least spend the beautiful days of autumn on the sea-shore, in a sunny spot, sheltered from the cold winds; and what place could have fulfilled these requirements better than quiet, sunny Dollan? And, even if it were a sacrifice for her to return here, she made it unhesitatingly for the sake of her child and her old father.

He had so longed for Dollan when, contrary to the doctor's expectation, he recovered his consciousness after a fainting fit which, a few days after the accident on the race-course, suddenly attacked him as he sat surrounded by his friends. "Gratify the old man's wish," said the physician, "and do so quickly; he will not have many more. His days are numbered, and it is our duty to procure for him, during the few that remain, all the sunshine he misses so keenly here in the narrow crowded streets."

And with deep thankfulness the old man greeted the sunlight on his native fields. Not that he expressed his gratitude in words. He usually talked very little; but on his pale, quiet face rested an expression of the deepest peace, his mild eyes often sparkled as if with joyful memories, and a happy smile played around his lips, as he walked slowly through the sunny fields by Cecilia's side, leaning on her arm. Often too--especially in the early morning--he went out alone, and Cecilia had been anxious about him, and at last ventured to beg him to take her with him, no hour was too early for her. But the old man stroked her cheeks, and said, "Let me alone; you don't know yet."

Cecilia pondered over these strange words, and understood them for the first time when, one morning at early dawn, she looked out of her window, and saw the old man stand a long time in the garden beside one of the oldest trees--a linden, under whose shade, so the story ran, Charles the Twelfth of Sweden had sat--and then bend his white head and wave his hand, as people do when they take leave of any one. Yes, the old man was taking his leave, when he wandered alone through garden and field, forest and meadow--leave of the friends and acquaintances of his youth: here a tree, under whose branches he had dreamed of the woman he loved; yonder a rock, against whose hard breast he had once pressed his tortured young heart; the meadow where he had broken the wild steed with which he had hoped to win the beautiful Ulrica von Dahlitz; the forest whose echoes he had so often waked by the report of his good rifle. He never carried it now: the trusty gun that had formerly accompanied him in all his walks, rested quietly in the corner; he had taken leave of his faithful companion forever.

Neither did he ever turn his steps in the direction of the beach-house, and once when he had wandered through the forest by Cecilia's side, and they unexpectedly emerged from the trees upon the cliffs, he seemed almost terrified, and then shook his venerable head and muttered: "That has cost me many years, many, many years!" So saying, he made a gesture as if to imply that those years were effaced from the tablet of his memory.

Perhaps they were; he never said a word about the weary time he had lived in the beach-house, but often began to relate stories of his young days--ancient tales, which no living person knew except himself, and over which he could laugh merrily, while at other times the tears ran down his pale, withered cheeks.

Ancient tales, of which he knew every detail, every name, and Christian name, the day and hour, and even whether the weather was pleasant or rainy; but he remembered nothing of what had lately happened, or made the strangest mistakes. Thus he repeatedly called Cecilia by the name of his early love, Ulrica, and it had been a bitter grief to his great-granddaughter, that he sometimes spoke of her husband, Gretchen's father, as a man he loved and eagerly longed to see again, although he had been there very recently, until she understood that he meant Gotthold.

It had moved her strangely at first, and then when the old man recurred to it again as quietly as if it never had been and never could be otherwise, and brought her name into such close connection with that of her lover, she had accepted it like a dream, which comes between waking and sleeping, until she started in terror at the danger that lay in the vision. It must not, could not be. Why trifle with a reality which was impossible, a future that could never come to pass!

She said it with passionate vehemence, and a flood of tears, more to herself than the old man, when he again spoke of Gotthold, who stayed away too long, who left her who longed to see him, and the child who was so fond of playing with him, too much and too long alone. She told him that she dared not think of such a thing; too much, too much had happened, which separated them forever, and that though she would give her blood for him drop by drop, if it did not belong to her child and her father, she could never, never be his wife.

They were in the garden on one of the beautiful summer-like evenings of this month of October, and as she spoke the old man gazed earnestly towards the saffron-hued eastern sky, that gleamed through the brilliant foliage of the trees, which was unstirred even by the faintest breath of wind. "Yes, yes," he said, "you have suffered keenly, keenly: but"--he added after a short pause--"that is so long, so very long ago. Time heals much, much!"

He seemed to be absorbed in dreams of the days, which to him alone were no nonentity, which to him alone emerged from the river Lethe; but as his glance fell upon the tear-stained face at his side, he passed his hand over his brow and eyes, and said hastily, as if he feared he might forget it again:

"Not everything, or slowly, very slowly; sixty, seventy, I know not how many years passed by; and it is never quite right till we take courage and tell some human being; I told him the evening I saved him from the sea, and so many good things followed it, so many good things; my heart has been so light ever since. You must tell some one, too, but not me; I forget so much, and might forget that too. You must tell him."

And when the next evening they again walked up and down the same garden-path, and the dim light again shimmered through the trees, he suddenly stopped and asked: "Have you told him?" and on the third and fourth day he repeated the question, always shaking his white head anxiously, when she answered with burning cheeks: "No, father, I have not told him yet," and mentally added: "And shall not tell him if he comes to-morrow, shall never tell him."

Gotthold came, but not alone. Prince Prora, at whose castle he had again spent several days to show him the sketches for the armory, and decide upon the order of the Italian landscapes for the dining-hall, wished to accompany him on his way back to Prora, and when he heard that Gotthold must stop at Dollan to take leave of the family before setting out on his journey to Italy, begged permission to accompany him there also.

"For we are neighbors, madame," said the young man, "whether I live at Prora or the castle, and I ought to have waited upon you long ago; but I will confess that a special interest brings me here to-day. Our friend has told me about the giant's grave you have in your forest, and that it is perhaps in the best preservation of any on the whole island. Now we need a landscape with one of these mounds for my armory, and when I reminded him of the one at Dollan, the obstinate fellow declares it won't do. I naturally insist it is the very one, since Dollan--before it came into the possession of your--I mean the Wenhof family--which, to be sure, if we include the Swedish branch, as is only just, was two hundred years ago--belonged to Prora, like all the rest of the island; nay, in Pagan times, a Castle Prora, surrounded with a lofty wall and deep moat, stood on the cliffs overlooking the sea. Its ruins are still mentioned in old histories, so it is very possible and even probable that the grave covers the bones of my ancestors. And am I to lose such a reminiscence for the sake of an artist's obstinacy? Never! We have an hour to spare, and I hear I can walk there and back in half an hour--pray don't trouble yourself, my dear friend! You are the very last person I will take with me, to spoil my temper by your objections."

"I will accompany you with pleasure," said old Boslaf. "I have often been up there deer-hunting with your Highness' great-grandfather. I have not walked that way for a long, long time, and should like to go once more."

The Prince looked at the old man in astonishment; he had greeted him with marked respect, in consequence of the many things Gotthold had told him about him; but it seemed like a fairy tale that any one now in existence could have gone hunting with Malte von Prora, who had lived in the times of Frederick the Great, and been sent to Berlin on a diplomatic mission by the Swedish government before the Seven Years' War.

"It is impossible for me to give you so much trouble," said he, "quite impossible."

But the old man did not seem to notice the polite refusal; he had already taken his staff, and with long regular strides led the way out of the garden, where this conversation had taken place. The Prince, with a smile, hurried after him.

"At least your Highness will allow us to follow you," said Gotthold.

"I beg you to do so," replied the Prince, "for the sake of the old man, who might not be satisfied with my company for any length of time," and then drawing Gotthold a few steps aside, he continued: "We have an hour, don't let it be passed unused. Since I have seen this lady, I understand all you have not told me, you most silent of men. May God take these mute lovers under His gracious protection!"

Gotthold walked slowly back to the spot where he had left Cecilia, and saw her still sitting in the same thoughtful attitude. Would she speak to-day, or would she keep silence as she had done hitherto--let him go in silence?

He went up and took the hand that hung by her side. "Cecilia?"

She slowly raised her dark lashes, and looked at him with an expression of touching entreaty.

"I am not to bid you speak, I am to leave you in silence, Cecilia! And yet it must be uttered; so let me say it for you. You could tell the secret only to a woman, and to a woman you would not need to do so; she would understand you without words. Was it not so? Should love be less clear-sighted than the eyes of a sympathizing friend? I do not know, I can only tell you what I read in your heart. And it is this, Cecilia: you love me, but dare not yield to your feelings; nay, you shrink from the thought of becoming my wife, as if it were a sin--against whom? It sounds cruel, Cecilia, and yet I must say it: against your pride. That is what you fear--yourself, not me. You know as well as that the sun is setting yonder to rise again to-morrow, that no day, no hour will come when I shall reproach you by word or look for having been--so unhappy, so unspeakably wretched; you know that I--as I think--have nothing to forgive you. But you, Cecilia, think you can never forgive yourself; you think, because when you were an inexperienced girl of sixteen you made a mistake, repentance and shame must follow you all your future life; repentance and shame would frighten you from my arms if you ever obeyed the impulse of your heart and threw yourself into them."

"And should I not do right to think, to feel so?" cried Cecilia, while the tears streamed down her burning cheeks; "could I ever forgive myself for having become the wife of this man? An inexperienced girl of sixteen, do you say? I was not so very inexperienced; I was worldly--wise enough to understand that life in the beautiful castle and shady park of Dahlitz would be more brilliant than in a gloomy country parsonage. And so I trod the poor student's heart under foot, although a voice which, since that hour, has never been silenced, whispered, he is the better man. Should I forgive myself for that, and for letting him go away with an almost broken heart, without a word of sympathy, of consolation, glad that his honest eyes no longer rested upon me, no longer read my vain soul? And now, when my arrogant dream has produced its natural result, now that I am as utterly wretched as I deserve to be, and he returns and stands before me, a pure, noble man, who can look with just pride upon his honest, industrious past, and with joyful composure towards his future, which must develop still more gloriously--is he now to stay his victorious step to raise one so deeply fallen;--nay, what am I saying? Is she to chain him to herself for all the future, bind the strong industrious hands, constrain the proud mind, which ought always to be occupied with the highest things, to perpetual consideration, daily, hourly sympathy for a wretched, self-marred fate? Did you say pride prevented my doing that? Be it so! But it was pride for you, in you! Ah! Gotthold, I do not feel this pride to-day for the first time. I was proud of you when, with sparkling eyes, you could talk so brilliantly of gods and heroes, and say the heroic man might boldly compare himself with the gods themselves; and when I heard, years after, you had forced your way through obstacles, by which others would have been crushed a thousand times, and, with a speed that seemed wonderful to those who did not know your strength and talent, raised yourself to the highest rank in your art, and the name of the young painter was mentioned only among the best artists--yes, Gotthold, I was proud then, so proud and thankful--for I thought, now I can bear everything easier, since my crime was not visited on you, since I alone had to atone for the sin I alone had committed."

They had left the fields, over which scattered threads of gossamer floated in the red light of the setting sun, and entered the dark, silent forest. No sound was heard except the rustling of the withered leaves at their feet, and, as Cecilia paused, the mournful song of a solitary bird.

But Gotthold heard no interruption; it seemed to him as if the piteous notes of the bird only prolonged the wail of the human voice.

"Alone, alone," he said, "always alone, and so you wish to remain, poor love! Can a human being be alone? And are you quite alone? Granted that I am--which I am not--the strong hero who can by constant labor struggle along his solitary path to the golden table of the father, is there not your child, from whom you must shut out the bright, sunny world? You, who turn away from life with veiled head in mute despair! what virtues will you teach it when you are yourself so wholly destitute of the cheerfulness, in which alone the virtues thrive; nay, when you no longer believe in that which is the best and highest of all, which makes us what we are, makes us human beings--love? Who pities yonder little bird, which, concealed amid the autumnal foliage, perhaps wounded and maimed, is left behind to perish miserably? None of its brothers and sisters, its husband or its children; they have all flown away, unheeding, and left it behind--alone, alone! They obey the immutable law that governs their coming and going, their life and death, and so they do not, cannot sin; but we can and do, if we do not obey the law that governs us, if we do not obey love. It is the all-powerful tie that has bound and will bind together all races of men, from the beginning to the end; the all-powerful sun beneath whose pure light spring must return to the darkest, saddest hearts: and so with my love I will hold you, dearest, however you may struggle; will open your heart, however you may try to close it against me: for I am more powerful than you, can lend you my strength, and yet have enough for myself, and you, and your child--our child, Cecilia!"

She had paused, trembling in every limb; pale as death, and with her dark eyes dim with tears, she extended her hands imploringly.

"Have mercy, Gotthold, have mercy! I can bear no more; I can bear no more."

A hasty step came down the narrow path that led to the giant's grave.

"Thank God! I was coming to meet you, dear madam--I think--I know you are not like other ladies--"

"He is dead!" cried Cecilia.

"I fear we shall not find him alive, though he had strength enough to send me back. I did not like to leave him, but he was so very, very anxious to see you, to see you both."

They ran up the path through the underbrush, over the hill, to the giant's grave, whose huge mass stood forth in dark relief against the bright western sky.

The old man was sitting on a moss-covered stone, with his back resting against one of the larger blocks, his hands lying in his lap, and an expression of the most profound peace on his pale, venerable face, gazing silently towards the west, from whence brilliant sunset hues streamed over fields, forest, moorland, and sea. Cecilia sank upon the broom at his feet, pressing her lips to his cold hand.

At the touch, a slight shiver ran through the limbs of the dying man. His glance turned slowly away from the distant sky, and rested upon the beautiful, pale, tear-wet face before him. A happy smile gleamed over his features. "Ulrica," he whispered. The name fell from the white lips softly, almost inaudibly, and then lips and eyelids closed.

Cecilia's head sank upon Gotthold's breast; the Prince, who during the whole scene had discreetly remained at a distance, turned away, and gazed steadily at the golden sunset.

And the golden hues of sunset glowed upon fields and woods, and the churchyard of Rammin, in which the old man had just been laid to rest with his children and children's children. Only a small, very small company had stood around the grave when the coffin was lowered, and they had needed no priest to consecrate the place which would henceforth be sacred to them. Then Frau Wollnow embraced Cecilia, and whispered: "Don't allow yourself to be disconcerted by any narrow-minded creature you may meet," and Cecilia answered: "Have no fear, I know what I am doing." Then Ottilie kissed Gretchen; the Prince and Herr Wollnow took leave of Cecilia with a few cordial words, and the Prince's light carriage rolled towards his castle, and the Wollnow's heavy equipage along the road to Prora.

At the other end of the village, where the road leads to Neuenfähr and Sundin, stood a travelling carriage, and they now walked silently through the little hamlet, arm-in-arm; while the child ran before them, and snatched at the swallows when they came too near.

Otherwise the swallows had a free course. Up and down they darted in their arrowy flight, now grazing the earth, now rising in graceful curves, anon flying in a straight line and then zigzag, chirping, twittering, and fluttering their long wings unweariedly.

For them, too, it was probably the last evening, and to-morrow they would fly towards the South, and not return till spring.

Gotthold thought of this, and then of the evening when he had walked through the deserted village-street, and the swallows' song brought tears of sorrow to his eyes, and how empty his home and the whole beautiful world had been to him, and how the whole beautiful world now seemed to him like home; and as he gazed into the dark eyes of his beloved wife, and pressed the little warm hand of the child, now his, he knew "what the swallow sang."


[Footnote 1: Dumpling.]

[Footnote 2: The second person singular is used throughout this conversation, but I have thought it better to adopt the English mode of address.--Tr.]