Part 3 out of 9
And then the "Good Night" song was sung; and Amrei,
in the distance, joined in:
"A fair 'good night' to thee, love, farewell!
When all are sleeping
Then watch I'm keeping,
A fair "good night" to thee, love, farewell!
Now I must leave thee,
And joy be with thee,
Till I come back.
And when I come back, then I'll come to thee,
And then I'll kiss thee,
That tastes so sweetly,--
Love, thou art mine!
Love, thou art mine, and I am thine,
And that doth content me,
And shall not repent thee,
Love, fare thee well!"
At last they came to the village, where one group after another detached
itself. Barefoot paused under the tree by her father's house, and stood
there for a long time in dreamy meditation. She would have liked to go
in and tell Black Marianne everything, but gave up the idea. Why should
she disturb the old woman's rest at night? What good would it do? She
went quietly home, where everybody was asleep. When she finally entered
the house, everything seemed so much more strange to her than it had
outside--so odd, so out of keeping, so out of place. "Why do you come
home? What do you want here?" There seemed to be a strange questioning
in every sound; when the dog barked, when the stairs creaked, when the
cows lowed in the stable--they all seemed to be questioning her: "Who's
that coming home? Who's that?" And when at length she found herself in
her room, she sat down quietly and stared at the light. Suddenly she got
up, seized the lamp, held it up to the glass, and looked at her face;
she felt inclined to ask herself: "Who's that?"--"And thus," she
thought, "he saw me--this is how I looked. He must have been pleased
with something about you, or else why did he look at you so?"
There arose in her a quiet feeling of contentment, which was heightened
by the thought:
"Well, for once you have been looked upon as a person; until now you
have been nothing but a servant, a convenience for others. Good night,
Amrei--this has been a day indeed! But even this day must come to an end
WHAT THE OLD SONG SAYS
[The memory of the handsome stranger, and of the dance, and of all the
new and wonderful emotions that had filled her heart on that eventful
day, to Amrei was a sacred one indeed; for weeks she thought of it by
day and dreamed of it by night. The jealous, sneering remarks of Rose,
and the half-serious, half-jesting utterances of other people, who had
been present at the wedding, meant nothing to her; she went about her
work all the more diligently and ignored it all. Black Marianne could
offer her no encouragement in her hope that the stranger would some day
appear again and claim her; she had waited all her life for her John,
and would continue to wait until she died.]
Spring had come again. Amrei was standing beside the flowers in her
window when a bee came flying up and began sucking at an open blossom.
"Yes, so it is," thought Barefoot; "a girl is like a plant; she grows up
in one place, and cannot go out into the world and seek--she must wait
until something comes flying to her."
"Were I a little bird,
And had a pair of wings,
I'd fly to thee;
But since I can't do that,
Here must I be.
Though I am far from thee,
In dreams I am with thee,
Thou art mine own;
But when I wake again,
I am alone.
No hour at night doth pass,
But that my heart doth wake,
And think of thee,--"
Thus sang Amrei. It was wonderful how all songs seemed now to apply to
her own life. And how many thousands of people have already sung those
songs from the depths of their souls, and how many thousands more are
yet to sing them!
Ye who yearn and who at last embrace a heart, ye embrace along with it
the love of all those who have ever been, or who ever shall be.
HE IS COME
One Sunday afternoon Barefoot, according to her custom, was leaning
against the door-post of the house and gazing dreamily out before her,
when Coaly Mathew's grandson came running up the street, beckoning to
her from afar and crying:
"He is come, Barefoot! He is come!"
Barefoot felt her knees tremble, and she cried in a broken voice:
"Where is he? Where?"
"At my grandfather's, in Mossbrook Wood!"
"Where? Who? Who sent you?"
"Your Damie--he's down yonder in the woods."
Barefoot was obliged to sit down on the stone bench in front of the
house; but only for a minute. Then she pulled herself together and stood
up stiffly with the words:
"My brother? My Damie?"
"Yes, Barefoot's Damie," said the boy, bluntly; "and he promised that
you would give me a kreutzer if I would run and tell you. So now give me
"My Damie will give you three."
"Oh, no!" said the boy, "he's been whimpering to my grandfather because
he hadn't a kreutzer left."
"I haven't one now either," said Barefoot, "but I'll promise you one."
She went quickly into the house and begged the second maid to milk the
cows for her that evening, in case she should not get back, for she had
an errand to do immediately. Then, with a heart now full of anger at
Damie, now full of sorrow for him and his awkwardness, again full of
vexation on account of his coming back, and then again full of
self-reproach that she should be going to meet her only brother in such
a way, Barefoot wended her way out into the fields and down the valley
to Mossbrook Wood.
There was no mistaking the way to Coaly Mathew's, even if one were to
wander off from the foot-path. The smell of burning charcoal led one to
How the birds are rejoicing in the trees! And beneath them a sad maiden
is passing, thinking how unhappy it must make her brother to see all
these things again, and how badly things must have gone with him, if he
had no other resource but to come home and live upon her earnings.
"Other sisters are helped by their brothers," she thought to herself,
"and I--but I shall show you this time, Damie, that you must stay where
I put you, and that you dare not stir!"
Such were Barefoot's thoughts as she hurried along; and at last she
arrived at Coaly Mathew's. But there she saw only Coaly Mathew himself,
who was sitting by the kiln in front of his log cabin, and holding his
wooden pipe with both hands as he smoked it; for a charcoal-burner is
like a charcoal kiln, in that he is always smoking.
"Has anybody been playing a trick on me?" Barefoot asked herself. "Oh,
that would be shameful! What have I done to people that they should
make a fool of me? But I shall soon find out who did it--and he shall
pay for it."
With clenched fists and a flaming face she stood before Coaly Mathew,
who hardly raised his eyes to her--much less did he speak. As long as
the sun was shining he was almost always mute, and only at night, when
nobody could look into his eyes, did he like to talk, and then he spoke
Barefoot gazed for a minute at the charcoal-burner's black face, and
then asked impatiently:
"Where is my Damie?"
The old man shook his head. Then Barefoot asked again with a stamp of
"Is my Damie with you?"
The old man unfolded his hands and spread them right and left, implying
thereby that he was not there.
"Who was it that sent to me?" asked Barefoot, still more impatiently.
"Can't you speak?"
The charcoal-burner pointed with his right thumb toward the side where a
foot-path wound around the mountain.
"For Heaven's sake, do say something!" cried Barefoot, fairly weeping
with indignation; "only a single word! Is my Damie here, or where is
At last the old man said:
"He's there--gone to meet you along the path." And then, as if he had
said too much, he pressed his lips together and walked off around the
Barefoot now stood there, laughing scornfully and, at the same time,
sadly over her brother's simplicity.
"He sends to me and doesn't stay in the place where I can find him; now
if I go up that way, why should he expect me to come by the foot-path?
That has doubtless occurred to him now, and he'll be going some other
way--so that I shall never find him, and we shall be wandering about
each other as in a fog."
Barefoot sat down quietly on the stump of a tree. There was a fire
within her as within the kiln, only the flames could not leap
forth--the fire could merely smolder within. The birds were singing, the
forest rustling--but what is all that when there is no clear, responsive
note in the heart? Barefoot now remembered, as in a dream, how she had
once cherished thoughts of love. What right had she to let such thoughts
rise within her? Had she not misery enough in herself and in her
brother? And this thought of love seemed to her now like the
remembrance, in winter, of a bright summer's day. One merely remembers
how sunny and warm it was--but that is all. Now she had to learn what it
meant to "wait,"--to "wait" high up on a crag, where there is hardly a
palm's breadth of room. And he who knows what it means, feels all his
old misery--and more.
She went into the charcoal-burner's log cabin, and there lay a cloth
sack, hardly half full, and on the sack was her father's name.
"Oh, how you have been dragged about!" she said, almost aloud. But she
soon got over her excitement in her curiosity to see what Damie had
brought back. "He must at least still have the shirts that I made for
him out of Black Marianne's linen. And perhaps there is also a present
from our uncle in America in it. But if he had anything good, would he
have gone first to Coaly Mathew in the forest? Would he not have shown
himself in the village at once?"
Barefoot had plenty of time to indulge in these reflections; for the
sack had been tied with a cord, which had been knotted in a most
complicated way, and it required all her patience and skill to
disentangle it. She emptied out everything that was in the sack and said
with angry eyes:
"Oh, you good-for-nothing! There's not a decent shirt left! Now you may
have your choice whether you'll be called 'Jack in Tatters' or 'Tattered
This was not a happy frame of mind in which to greet her brother for the
first time. And Damie seemed to realize this; for he stood at the
entrance of the log cabin and looked on, until Barefoot had put
everything back into the sack. Then he stepped up to her and said:
"God greet you, Amrei! I bring you nothing but dirty clothes, but you
are neat, and will make me--"
"Oh, dear Damie, how you look!" cried Barefoot, and she threw herself on
his neck. But she quickly tore herself away from him, exclaiming:
"For Heaven's sake! You smell of whisky! Have you got so far already?"
"No, Coaly Mathew only gave me a little juniper spirit, for I could not
stand up any longer. Things have gone badly with me, but I have not
taken to drink--you may believe that, though, to be sure, I can't prove
"I believe you, for you surely would not wish to deceive the only one
you have on earth! But oh, how wild and miserable you look! You have a
beard as heavy as a knife-grinder's. I won't allow that--you must shave
it off. But you're in good health? There's nothing the matter with you?"
"I am in good health, and intend to be a soldier."
"What you are, and what you are to be, we'll think about in good time.
But now tell me how things have gone with you."
Damie kicked his foot against a half-burnt log of wood--one of the
spoilt logs, as they were called--and said:
"Look you--I am just like that, not completely turned to coal, and yet
no longer fresh wood."
Barefoot exhorted him to say what he had to say without complaints. And
then Damie went off into a long, long story, setting forth how he had
not been able to bear the life at his uncle's, and how hard-hearted and
selfish that uncle was, and especially how his wife had grudged him
every bit he ate in the house, and how he had got work here and there,
but how in every place he had only experienced a little more of man's
hard-heartedness. "In America," he said, "one can see another person
perishing in misery, and never so much as look around at him."
Barefoot could hardly help laughing when there came again and again, as
the burden of his story,--"And then they turned me out into the street."
She could not help interrupting him with:
"Yes, that's just how you are, and how you used to be, even as a child.
When you once stumbled, you let yourself fall like a log of wood; one
must convert the stumble into a hop, as the old proverb says. Cheer up.
Do you know what one must do, when people try to hurt one?"
"One must keep out of their way."
"No, one must hurt them, if one can--and one hurts them most by standing
up and achieving something. But you always stand there and say to the
world: 'Do what you like to me, good or bad; kiss me or beat me, just as
you will.' That's easy enough; you let people do anything to you, and
then pity yourself. I should like it right well myself, if some one
would place me here and there, and do everything for me. But you must
look out for yourself now. You've let yourself be pushed about quite
enough in the world; now you must play the master for awhile."
Reproof and teaching often seem like hardness and injustice in the eyes
of the unhappy; and Damie took his sister's words as such. It was
dreadful that she did not see that he was the most unhappy creature on
earth. She strongly urged him not to believe that, and said that if he
did not believe it, it would not be so. But it is the most difficult of
all undertakings to inspire a man with confidence in himself; most
people acquire it only after they have succeeded.
Damie declared that he would not tell his heartless sister a word more;
and it was only after some time that she got from him a detailed account
of his travels and fortunes, and of how he had at last come back to the
old world as a stoker on a steamboat. While she reproved him for his
self-tormenting touchiness, she became conscious that she herself was
not entirely free from that fault. For, as a result of her almost
exclusive association with Black Marianne, she had fallen into the habit
of thinking and talking so much about herself, that she had acquired a
desponding way. And now that she was called upon to cheer her brother
up, she unconsciously exerted a similar influence upon herself. For
herein lies the mysterious power of cooperation among men, that when we
help others we are also helping ourselves.
"We have four sound hands," she said in conclusion, "and we'll see if we
cannot fight our way through the world together. And to fight your way
through is a thousand times better than to beg your way through. And
now, Damie, come with me--come home."
Damie did not want to show himself in the village at all; he dreaded the
jeering that would be vented upon him from all sides, and preferred to
remain concealed for the present. But Barefoot said:
"You go with me now--on this bright Sunday; and you must walk right
through the village, and let the people mock at you, let them have their
say, let them point and laugh. Then you'll be through with it, then it
will be over, and you will have swallowed their bitter draught all at
once, and not drop by drop."
Not without long and obstinate resistance, not until Coaly Mathew had
interfered and sided with Barefoot, was Damie induced to comply. And
there was, indeed, a perfect hailstorm of jeering, sometimes coarse,
sometimes satirical, directed at Barefoot's Damie, whom people accused
of having taken merely a pleasure-trip to America at the expense of the
Black Marianne alone received him kindly; her first question was:
"Have you heard nothing of my John?" But he could give her no
In a double sense Damie was doomed to be scratched that day; for that
very evening Barefoot had the barber come and shave off his wild beard,
and give him the smooth face that was the fashion of the country.
The next morning Damie was summoned to the Courthouse; and inasmuch as
he trembled at the summons, he knew not why, Barefoot promised to
accompany him. And that was good, though it was not of much use; for the
Council declared to Damie that he was to be sent away from the place,
that he had no right to remain there, perhaps to become a burden on the
community once more.
All the members were astonished when Barefoot answered "Yes, you can
send him away--but do you know when? When you can go out to the
churchyard, where our father and mother lie buried, and say to them:
'Up, go away with your child!' Then you can send him away. No one can be
sent away from the place where his parents are buried; for he is more
than at home there. And if it is written a thousand times in your books
there, and a thousand times again,"--and here she pointed to the bound
government registers,--"and wherever else it may be written, it cannot
be done, and you cannot do it."
One of the councilors whispered to the schoolmaster:
"Barefoot has learned to talk in that way from nobody else but Black
And the sexton leaned over to the magistrate and said:
"Why do you allow the Cinderella to make such an outcry? Ring for the
gendarme and have him shut her up in the madhouse."
But the magistrate only smiled, and explained that the community had rid
itself of all burdens that could ever accrue to it through Damie by
paying the greater part of his passage money.
"But where is his home now?" asked Barefoot.
"Wherever they will receive him, but not here--at present nowhere."
"Yes, I have no home," said Damie, who almost enjoyed being made more
and more unhappy; for now nobody could deny that he was the most
unfortunate person in the world.
Barefoot continued to fight, but she soon saw that nothing could be
done; the law was against her. She now declared that she would work her
fingers to the bone rather than take anything more from the parish,
either for herself or for her brother; and she promised to pay back all
that had been received.
"Shall I put that down on the minutes?" asked the clerk of those who sat
around. And Barefoot replied:
"Yes, put it down; for with you nothing counts except what's written."
Barefoot then put her signature to the entry. When this was done, it was
announced that Damie, as a stranger, had permission to remain in the
village for three days, but that if within that time he had not found
some means of subsistence, he would be sent away, and in case of
necessity, would be removed by force across the frontier.
Without another word Barefoot left the Court-house with Damie, who
actually shed tears because she had compelled him to return to the
village to no purpose. It would have been better, he declared, if he had
remained out in the woods and spared himself the jeering, and the
humiliation of hearing himself banished as a stranger from his native
place. Barefoot wanted to reply that it was better to know the worst,
however bitter it might be; but she restrained herself, realizing that
she had need of all her strength to keep up her own courage. She felt as
if she had been banished with her brother, and understood that she had
to fight with a world that had law and might to fall back upon, while
she herself was empty-handed and helpless.
But she bore up more bravely than ever; she did not allow Damie's
weaknesses and adversities to weigh upon her. For that is the way with
people; if any one has a pain of his own which entirely occupies him, he
will bear a second pain--be it ever so severe--more easily than if he
had this second pain alone to bear. And thus while Barefoot had a
feeling of indescribable sorrow against which she could do nothing, she
was able to bear the definite trial against which she could strive, the
more willingly and freely. She allowed herself not a minute more for
dreaming, and went to and fro with stiff arms and clinched fists, as if
to say: "Where is there work to do? Be it ever so hard, I will gladly
undertake it, if only I can get myself and my brother out of this state
of forsaken dependency."
She now cherished the idea of going with Damie to Alsace, and working in
a factory there. It seemed terrible to her that she should have to do
this, but she would force herself to it; as soon as the summer was over,
she would go. And then, "Farewell home," she said, "for we are strangers
even here where we were born."
The one protector the two orphans had had on the Village Council was now
powerless to do anything for them; old Farmer Rodel was taken seriously
ill, and in the night following the stormy meeting he died. Barefoot and
Black Marianne were the two people who wept the most at his burial in
the churchyard. On the way home Black Marianne gave as a special reason
for this fact that old Farmer Rodel had been the last survivor of those
with whom she had danced in her youth. "And now," she said, "my last
partner is dead."
But she soon spoke a very different elegy concerning him; for it
appeared that Farmer Rodel, who had for years been raising Barefoot's
hopes concerning his will, made no mention at all of her in that
document--far less did he leave her anything.
When Black Marianne went on with an endless tirade of scolding and
complaining, Barefoot said:
"It's all coming at once. The sky is cloudy now, and the hail is beating
down upon me from all sides; but the sun will soon be shining again."
The relatives of Farmer Rodel gave Barefoot a few garments that had
belonged to the old man; she would have liked to refuse them, but
realized that it would not do to show a spirit of obstinacy just now. At
first Damie also refused to accept the clothes, but he was finally
obliged to give in; he seemed fated to pass his life in the clothes of
various dead people.
Coaly Mathew took Damie to work with him at the kiln in the forest,
where talebearers kept coming to Damie to tell him that he had only to
begin a lawsuit; they declared that he could not be driven away, for he
had not yet been received at any other place, and that this was always a
tacit condition when any one gave up his right of settlement. These
people seemed to derive a certain satisfaction from the reflection that
the poor orphans had neither time nor money to begin a legal process.
Damie seemed to like the solitude of the forest; it suited him exactly,
the fact that one was not obliged to dress and undress there. And every
Sunday afternoon Barefoot experienced great difficulty in getting him to
clean himself up a little; then she would sit with him and Coaly Mathew.
Little was said, and Barefoot could not prevent her thoughts from
wandering about the world in search of him who had once made her so
happy for a whole day, and had lifted her above the earth. Did he know
nothing more about her? Did he think of her no more? Could people forget
other people with whom they had once been so happy?
It was on a Sunday morning toward the end of May, and everybody was at
church. The day before it had rained, and now a strong, refreshing
breeze was blowing over the mountains and valleys, and the sun was
shining brightly. Barefoot had also intended to go to church, but while
the bells were ringing she had sat as if spell-bound beneath her window,
until it was too late to go. That was a strange thing for her, and it
had never happened before. But now that it was too late, she determined
to stay at home by herself and read her hymn-book. She rummaged through
her drawers, and was surprised to find all sorts of things that belonged
to her. She was sitting on the floor, reading a hymn and humming the
tune of it to herself, when something stirred at the window. She glanced
up; a white dove was sitting on the ledge and looking at her. When the
eyes of the dove and of the girl met, the bird flew away. Barefoot
watched it soar out over the fields and alight again.
This incident, which was a very natural one, filled her heart with
gladness; and she kept nodding to the mountains in the distance, and to
the fields and woods. The rest of that day she was unusually cheerful.
She could not explain to herself why, but it seemed to her as if a
joyous spirit were singing within her, and she knew not whence it came.
And as often as she shook her head, while she leaned against the
door-post, wondering at the strange excitement she felt, the feeling did
not pass away.
"It must be, it must be that some one has been thinking kindly of me,"
she said; "and why should it not be possible that the dove was a silent
messenger who came to tell me so?--Animals, after all, live in the
world, where the thoughts of men are flying about, and who knows if they
do not quietly carry those thoughts away?"
The people who passed by Barefoot could have no idea of the strange life
that was moving within her.
OUT OF A MOTHER'S HEART
While Barefoot was dreaming and working and worrying in village, field,
and wood, sometimes feeling a strange thrill of joy, at other times
thinking herself completely deserted, two parents were sending their
child forth into the world, in the hope, to be sure, that he would
return to them the richer. Yonder in Allgau, in the large farm-house
known, by the sign over the door, as the "Wild Clearing," sat Farmer
Landfried and his wife, with their youngest son. The farmer was saying:
"Listen, John; it's more than a year since you came back, and I don't
know what's gotten into you. You came home that day like a whipped dog,
and said that you would rather choose a wife here in the
neighborhood--but I don't see any signs of your doing it. If you will
follow my advice once more, then I won't say another word to persuade
"Yes, I will," said the young man, without looking up. "Well then, make
one more trial--one trial is no better than no trial. And I tell you,
you will make me and your mother happy if you choose a wife from our
region. I may say it to your face, wife; there's only one good breed of
women in the world, and they come from our part of the country. Now, you
are a sensible lad, John, and you will be sure to pick out a good one,
and then you'll thank us on your death-bed for sending you to our home
to find a wife. If I could get away, I would go with you--together we
would find the right one surely--but I can't go. I've spoken to our
George, however, and he says he'll go with you if you ask him. Ride
over, and speak to him then."
"If I may say what I think," answered the young man, "when I go again,
I'd rather go alone. You see, it's my way; in such a matter a second
pair of eyes is superfluous--I should not like to consult any one else.
If it were possible, I should even like to make myself invisible while I
am looking around; but if two of us went together, we might as well have
it proclaimed abroad, so that they would all dress themselves up to
"As you will," said the father; "you always were a strange fellow. Do
you know what? Suppose you start at once; we want a mate for our white
horse, so do you go out and look for one--but not in the market, of
course. And when you are going about from house to house, you can see
things for yourself; and on your way home you can buy a Bernese
chaise-wagon. Dominic, in Endringen, they say, has three daughters as
straight as organ-pipes; choose one of them--we should like to have a
daughter from that house."
"Yes," the mother observed, "Ameile is sure to have nice daughters."
"And it would be well," continued the father, "if you went to
Siebenhofen and took a look at Amrei, the Butter Count's daughter. She
has a farm of her own that one could easily sell; the farmers of
Siebenhofen have got their eyes on it, for they want to have more land.
But it's a question of cold cash, and none of them can raise it. But
I'll say nothing more, for you have eyes of your own. Come, set out at
once, and I'll fill the money-belt for you--two hundred crowns will be
enough, but if you should have to have more, Dominic will lend you some.
Only make yourself known; I could never understand why you did not tell
people who you were that time at the wedding. Something must have
happened then--but I won't ask any questions."
"Yes, because he won't answer them," said the mother, smiling.
The farmer at once set about filling the money-belt; he broke open two
large paper rouleaux, and it was manifest that he enjoyed counting out
the big coins from one hand into the other. He made twenty piles of ten
dollars each, and counted them over two or three times to be sure that
he had made no mistake.
"Well, I am ready," said the young man, standing up as he spoke.
He is the strange dancer whose acquaintance we made at the wedding in
Endringen. He went out to the stable, and presently returned with the
white horse already saddled. And as he was fastening his valise to the
bolster, a fine, large wolf-hound began jumping up at him and licking
"Yes, yes, I'll take you with me," said the lad to the dog; and for the
first time his face looked cheerful, as he called out to his father:
"Father, can I take Lux with me?"
"Yes, if you like," sounded the answer from within, amid the jingling of
coins. The dog seemed to understand the question and the answer, for he
ran around the yard in circles, barking joyously. The young man went
into the house, and, as he was buckling on the money-belt, he said "You
are right, father; I feel better already, now that I am getting myself
out of this aimless way of living. And I don't know--people ought not
to be superstitious--but somehow I was glad when the horse turned around
and neighed to me when I went out into the stable just now--and that the
dog wants to go too. After all, they're good signs, and if we could ask
animals, who knows if they could not give us good advice?"
The mother smiled, but the father said:
"Don't forget to look up Crappy Zachy, and don't go ahead and bind
yourself until you have consulted him. He knows the affairs of all the
people for ten miles around, and is a living information bureau. And
now, God be with you! Take your time--you may stay away as long as ten
Father and son shook hands, and the mother said:
"I'll escort you part of the way."
The young man, leading his horse by the bridle, then walked quietly
beside his mother until they were out in front of the yard, and it was
not until they reached the turn in the road that the mother said,
"I should like to give you some good advice."
"Yes, yes, let me have it--I'll listen to it gladly."
The mother then took her son's hand, and began:
"You must stand still--I can't talk while I am walking. Look; that she
should please you is, of course, the first thing--there's no happiness
without love. Well, I am an old woman, and so I may say what I think to
you, may I not?"
"Well, if it doesn't make you happy, if it doesn't make you feel as if
it were a boon from heaven to kiss her, then it's not the right kind of
love. But--why don't you stand still--but that kind of love is not
enough; there may be something else concealed beneath it, believe me."
Here the old woman blushed crimson and hesitated. "Look you," she went
on, "where there is not the right feeling of respect, when a man does
not feel rejoiced that a woman takes a thing in hand in just one way,
and not in another, and does it just in this way, and not in that--it's
a bad sign. And above all things, notice how she treats her servants."
"I'll take what you have to say, and change it into small coin for you;
for talking is hard for you. What you have just said, I understand; she
must not be too proud, and not too familiar."
"That, certainly. But I can tell by looking at a girl's mouth, if that
mouth has used bad words and scolded and stormed, and is fond of doing
it. Yes, if you could see her weeping with vexation, or come upon her
unawares, when she is angry, that would be the best way of knowing what
she is. For then the inward self that we conceal springs out, and often
that self is armed with claws, like a devil. Oh, child, I have had much
experience, and have seen many things. I can tell by the way a woman
puts out a candle what she is, and what kind of a temper she has; she
who puts it out hurriedly as she goes by, regardless of whether it blows
sparks or sputters or not, she is one who prides herself upon her
bustling industry, and who does things only by halves, and has no peace
"But, mother, you're making it too hard for me; after all, it's a
lottery, and always will be one."
"Yes, yes, you need not remember all I say--I mean it only in a general
way. If it should come before you, you'll know what I meant. And then
you must notice if she can talk and work at the same time, if she has
something in her hand while she is talking to you, and if she stops
every time she says a word and only pretends to be working. I tell you
that industry is everything in a woman. My mother always used to say: 'A
girl should never go about empty-handed, and should be ready to climb
over three fences to pick up a feather.' And yet she must be calm and
steady in her work, and not rush and rampage about as if she were going
to pull down a piece of the world. And when she speaks and answers you,
notice whether she is either too bashful or too bold. You may not
believe it, but girls are quite different when they see a man's hat
from what they are among themselves. And those who look as if they were
all the time saying, "Don't eat me!" are the worst--but, no--those who
have such sharp tongues, and think that when anybody is in the room
their tongues should never rest, those are worse still."
The lad laughed and said:
"Mother, you ought to go about the world preaching, and give lectures
for girls only."
"Yes, I could do that," replied the mother, also laughing. "But I have
brought out the last part first; you must, of course, notice how she
behaves to her parents and to her brothers and sisters. You are a good
son yourself--I need not tell you anything about that. You know the
"Yes, mother, you may rest easy there--I look out for a special sign in
regard to that; where they make a big fuss about love for parents, it
means nothing. For filial love is best shown by deeds, and those who
chatter very much about it, when the time comes for deeds, are tired and
"Why, how wise you are!" cried the mother; and she laid her hand on her
bosom and looked up at her son. "May I tell you something more?"
[Mother and son continue to discuss the qualifications of good wives for
some time, until the son begins to show signs of impatience to be off.]
"Yes, yes," said the mother, "I talk too much, and you need not remember
it all. It's only to remind you, if it should come before you. The gist
of what I say is this: the chief thing is not what a woman has or
inherits, but what she uses. And now, you know that I have always let
you go your own way quietly; so then, open your heart to me, and tell me
what it was that made you come back from the wedding at Endringen like a
man bewitched, and why it is that you have never since then been the
same lad that you were before. Tell me, and perhaps I can help you."
"Oh, mother, you cannot do that--but I will tell you. I saw some one
there who would have been the right one, but she was the wrong one."
"For heaven's sake! You did not fall in love with a married woman?"
"No, but still she was the wrong one. Why should I make many words about
it? She was a servant-girl."
The son drew a deep breath, and for some time both he and his mother
were silent. At last the mother laid her hand on his shoulder, and said:
"Oh, you are good! And I thank God that He has made you so. You did well
to put that out of your mind. Your father would never have consented to
it, and you know what a father's blessing means."
"No, mother, I will not make myself out better than I am. I myself was
annoyed that she was only a servant; I knew it would not do, and
therefore I went away. But it is even harder than I expected to get her
out of my mind--but now it's over, it must be over. I have promised
myself not to make any inquiries about her, not to ask anybody where she
is, or who she is, and, God willing, I shall bring you home a worthy
"Surely you acted fairly by the girl, and did not put any foolish
notions into her head?"
"Mother, there's my hand--I have nothing to reproach myself for."
"I believe you," said the mother, and she pressed his hand repeatedly.
"And now, good luck, and my blessing go with you!"
The son mounted his horse, and his mother looked after him. But suddenly
she called out again:
"Stop--I must tell you something else. I have forgotten the most
important of all."
The son turned his horse around, and when he got back to his mother, he
"But mother--this is the last, eh?"
"Yes, and the best test of all. Ask the girl about the poor people in
her town, and then listen to what the poor people have to say about her.
A farmer's daughter who has not taken some poor person by the hand to
help her, cannot be a worthy girl--remember that. And now, God keep you,
and ride forth bravely."
As he rode off the mother spoke a prayer to speed him on his way, and
then returned to the farm.
"I ought to have told him to inquire about Josenhans's children, and to
find out what has become of them," said the mother to herself. She felt
strangely moved. And who knows the secret ways through which the soul
wanders, or what currents flow above our wonted course, or deep beneath
it? What made the mother think of these children, who seemed to have
faded from her memory long ago? Was her present pious mood like a
remembrance of long-forgotten emotions? And did it awaken the
circumstances that had accompanied those emotions? Who can understand
the impalpable and invisible elements that wander and float back and
forth from man to man, from memory to memory?
When the mother got back to the farm and found the father, the latter
"No doubt you have given him many directions how to fish out the best
one; but I, too, have been making some arrangements. I have written to
Crappy Zachy--he is sure to lead him to the best houses. He must bring a
girl home who has plenty of good coin."
"Plenty of coin doesn't constitute goodness," replied the mother.
"I know that!" cried the farmer, with a sneer. "But why shouldn't he
bring home one who is good and has plenty of coin into the bargain?"
The mother sat silent for a time, but after awhile she said:
"You've referred him to Crappy Zachy. It was at Crappy Zachy's that
Josenhans's boy was boarded out."
Thus her pronouncing the name aloud showed that her former remembrances
were dawning upon her; and now she became conscious what those
remembrances were. And her mind often reverted to them during the events
that were soon to occur, and which we are about to relate.
"I don't know what you're talking about," said the farmer. "What's the
child to you? Why don't you say that I did the thing wisely?"
"Yes, yes, it was wisely done," the wife acquiesced. But the tardy
praise did not satisfy the old man, and he went out grumbling.
A certain apprehension that things might go wrong with his boy after
all, and that perhaps he had been in too great a hurry, made the farmer
gruff, for the present, toward everybody about him.
THE RIDER ON THE WHITE HORSE
On the evening of the same day that John had ridden away from
Zumarshofen, Crappy Zachy came to Farmer Rodel's house and sat with the
proprietor in the back room for a long time, reading a letter to him in
a low voice.
"You must give me a hundred crowns if I put this business through, and I
want that down in writing," said Crappy Zachy.
"I should think that fifty would be enough, and even that is a pretty
bit of money."
"No, not a red farthing less than a round hundred, and in saying that I
am making you a present of a hundred. But I am willing to do that much
for you and your sister--in fact, I am always glad to do a kindness to a
fellow-townsman. Why, in Endringen or in Siebenhofen they would gladly
give me double the money. Your Rose is a very respectable girl--nobody
can deny that--but she's nothing extraordinary, and one might ask,
what's the price of a dozen such?"
"Be quiet! I won't have that!"
"Yes, yes, I'll be quiet, and not disturb you while you're writing. Now,
write at once."
Farmer Rodel was obliged to do as Crappy Zachy wished, and when he had
done writing, he said:
"What do you think? Shall I tell Rose about it?"
"Certainly, you must do so. But don't let her show that she knows about
it, nor tell any one in the place; it won't bear being talked about. All
people have their enemies, you and your sister like the rest, you may
believe me. Tell Rose to wear her everyday clothes and milk the cows
when he comes. I shall have him come to your house alone. You read what
Farmer Landfried writes; the boy has a will of his own, and would run
away directly, if he suspected that there was anything being prepared
for him. And you must send this very evening to Lauterbach and have your
brother-in-law's white horse brought over here; then I'll get somebody
to send the suitor over to you in quest of the horse. Don't let him
notice that you know anything about it either."
Crappy Zachy went away, and Farmer Rodel called his sister and his wife
into the little back room. After exacting a promise of secrecy, he
imparted to them that a suitor for Rose was coming the next day, a
prince of a man, who had a first-rate farm--in fact, it was none other
than John, the son of Farmer Landfried of Zumarshofen. He then gave the
further directions which Crappy Zachy had recommended, and enjoined the
After supper, however, Rose could not refrain from asking Barefoot, if,
in case of her marrying, she would not go with her as her maid; she
would give her double wages, and at the same time she would then not
have to cross the Rhine and work in a factory. Barefoot gave an evasive
answer; for she was not inclined to go with Rose, knowing that the
latter had selfish motives for making the proposal. In the first place
she wanted to boast of the fact that she was going to get a husband,
and, indeed, a first-rate one; and in the second place she was anxious
to get Barefoot to manage her household affairs, about which she had
until then scarcely bothered herself at all. Now Barefoot would have
been very glad to do this for a mistress who was kind to her, but not
for Rose. And besides, if she were to leave her present mistress, she
did not intend to be a servant again anyway, but would work for herself,
even if it were in a factory with her brother.
Barefoot was just going to bed, when her mistress called her and
intrusted the secret to her, adding:
"You have always had patience with Rose, and now while her suitor is
here, have double patience, in order that there may be no disturbance in
"Yes, but I consider it wrong that she wants to milk the cows just this
once; that's deceiving the worthy man, for she can't milk at all."
"You and I cannot alter the world," said the mistress. "I think it's
hard enough for you to bear your own lot--let others do what they will."
Barefoot lay down, mournfully reflecting how people cheat one another
without the least scruple. She did not know who the suitor was who was
going to be deceived, but she was inwardly sorry for the poor young man.
And she was doubly bewildered when she thought: "Who knows, perhaps Rose
will be just as much deceived in him as he in her?"
Quite early in the morning, when Barefoot was looking out of her window,
she suddenly started back as if a bullet had struck her forehead.
"Heavens! What is this?" She passed her hands over her eyes hastily,
then opened them wide, and asked herself as if in a dream: "Why, it's
the stranger of the wedding at Endringen! He has come to the village! He
has come to fetch you! No, he knows nothing of you! But he shall
know!--but no, what are you saying!"
He comes nearer and nearer, but does not look up. A fullblossomed
carnation falls from Barefoot's hand, but lands on the valise behind
him; he does not see it, and it lies there in the road. Barefoot hurries
down and recovers the treacherous token. And now the truth comes over
her like the dawning of a terrible day. This is the suitor for
Rose--this is he of whom she spoke last evening. And is this man to be
In the barn, kneeling on the clover which she was going to feed the
cows, Barefoot fervently prayed to Heaven to preserve the stranger from
ever marrying Rose. That he should ever be her own, was a thought she
dared not entertain--and yet she could not bear to banish it.
As soon as she had finished milking, she hurried across to Black
Marianne; she wanted to ask her what she should do. But Black Marianne
was lying grievously ill; furthermore she had grown very deaf, and could
hardly understand connected words. Barefoot did not dare to shout the
secret that she had half confided to her and that the old woman had half
guessed, loudly enough for Marianne to understand it, for people in the
street might hear her. And so she came back, not knowing what to do.
Barefoot had to go out into the fields and stay there the whole day
planting turnips. At every step she hesitated and thought of going home
and telling the stranger everything; but the consciousness of her
subordinate position in the house, as well as a special consideration,
kept her to the duty that she had been called upon to perform.
"If he is foolish and inconsiderate enough," she soliloquized, "to rush
into this affair without a thought, then there's no helping him, and he
deserves no help. And--" she was fain to console herself at last--"and
besides, engaged is not married anyway."
But all day long she was restless and unhappy. In the evening when she
had returned from the fields and was milking the cows, and Rose was
sitting with a full pail beside a cow that had been milked, she heard
the stranger talking with Farmer Rodel in the nearby stable. They were
bargaining about a white horse. But how came the white horse in the
stable?--until then they had had none.
"Who is that singing yonder?" the stranger now asked.
"That's my sister," answered the farmer. And at the word Barefoot joined
in and sang the second voice, powerfully and defiantly, as if she wanted
to compel him to ask who _that_ was over yonder. But her singing had the
disadvantage that it prevented her from hearing whether or not he did
ask. And as Rose went across the yard with her pail, where the white
horse had just been led out for inspection, the farmer said:
"There, that's my sister. Rose, leave your work, and get something ready
for supper. We have a relative for a guest--I'll bring him in
"And it was the little one yonder, who sang the second voice?" inquired
the stranger. "Is she a sister of yours, too?"
"No--she, in a way, is an adopted child. My father was her guardian."
The farmer knew very well that charity of this kind conduced to the
credit of a house, and he therefore avoided saying outright that
Barefoot was a maid.
Barefoot felt inwardly glad that the stranger knew something about her.
"If he is wise," she reflected, "he will be sure to ask me about Rose.
Then an opportunity will come for me to save him from a misfortune."
Rose brought in the supper, and the stranger was quite surprised to find
that such good fare could be made ready so quickly--he did not know that
it had all been prepared beforehand. Rose apologized by asking him to
make shift with their plain fare, though he was doubtless accustomed to
better things at home. She reckoned, not without acuteness, that the
mention of a well-deserved fame would be gratifying to any one.
Barefoot was told to remain in the kitchen that day, and to give all the
dishes into Rose's hands. She entreated over and over again: "For
goodness sake, tell me who he is! What's his name?"--but Rose gave her
no answer. The mistress, however, at last solved the mystery by saying:
"You can tell her now--it's John, the son of Farmer Landfried of
Zumarshofen. Amrei, you've a keepsake from her, haven't you?"
"Yes, yes," replied Barefoot; and she was obliged to sit down by the
hearth, for her knees trembled under her. How wonderful all this was!
And so he was the son of her first benefactress! "Now he must be told!
If the whole village stones me for it, I shan't bear it!" she said to
The stranger started to go, and his hosts escorted him to the door; but
on the steps he turned about and said:
"My pipe has gone out--and I like best to light it for myself with a
He evidently wanted to see how things looked in the kitchen. Rose pushed
in ahead of him and handed him a coal with the tongs, standing, as she
did so, directly in front of Barefoot, who was still sitting on the
hearth by the chimney.
[Late that night Barefoot went out to find somebody whom she could get
to warn the stranger not to marry Rose. She knew of nobody to whom she
dared intrust so delicate a commission; she thought of Damie, but
remembered that he was not allowed to enter the village. Finally, wet
and chilled, as a result of wandering about through the fields barefoot,
she returned home and went to bed.]
BANISHED AND RELEASED
The following morning, when Barefoot awoke, she found the necklace that
she had once received from Dame Landfried lying on her bed, and she had
to think for some time before she remembered that she herself had taken
it out the night before, and had looked at it a long, long time.
[Illustration: WHILE SHE WAS MILKING JOHN ASKED HER ALL KINDS OF
When she started to get up, all her limbs felt numb; and clasping her
hands with difficulty, she moaned:
"For Heaven's sake let me not be ill now! I have no time for it--I
mustn't be ill now"--as if in anger at her bodily weakness.
Determined to overcome it by force, she got up; but how she started back
when she looked at herself in the glass! Her whole face was swollen!
"That's your punishment," she said, half-aloud, "for running about so
last night, and wanting to call upon strangers, even bad people, to help
you!" She beat her disfigured face as if to chastise herself, and then
tied a cloth around it tightly and went about her work.
When the mistress saw her, she wanted to put her to bed again at once.
Rose, on the other hand, scolded, and declared that it was a bit of
spite on Barefoot's part, this being ill just now--she had done it out
of meanness, knowing that she would be wanted. Barefoot made no reply.
When she was out in the cow-shed, putting clover into the mangers, she
heard a clear voice say:
"Good morning! At work so early?"
It was _his_ voice.
"Not very hard," replied Barefoot; and she ground her teeth with
vexation, more on account of the tormenting demon who had disfigured her
face, so that it was impossible that he should recognize her, than
Should she make herself known now?--it was better to wait and see.
While she was milking, John asked her all sorts of questions; first he
inquired about the quantity of milk the cows yielded, and whether any of
it was sold, and how; then he wanted to know who made the butter, and if
anybody in the house kept an account of it.
Barefoot trembled. It was now in her power to put her rival out of the
way by declaring what kind of a person she was! But how strangely
involved and tangled are the strings of action! She was ashamed of the
idea of speaking evil of her master's family, though, in truth, she
would have spoken so only of Rose, for the others were good. But she
was aware that it was shameful for a servant to betray the faults of the
inner management of the house. She therefore secured herself from this
by saying to herself:
"It does not become a servant to judge his master. And they are all
good-hearted," she added, prompted by her strong sense of justice. For,
in truth, Rose, too, was good-hearted, in spite of her hot temper and
domineering spirit. And now a good idea occurred to her; if she were to
tell the truth about Rose now, he would go away directly and would
certainly escape from Rose--but then he would be gone. Therefore, with
wonderful good sense, she said:
"You seem to be a prudent man, and your parents have a name for
prudence, too. Now, you know that in one day one cannot get to know even
a horse properly, and so I think you ought to stay here a little while.
Later on we two will get to know each other better, and one word will
bring on another, and if I can be of service to you, I will not fail
you. I don't know, however, why you question me like this--?"
"You are a little rogue--but I like you," said John. Barefoot started so
that the cow winced and almost over-turned the milk-pail.
"And you shall have a good present, too," added John; and he let a
dollar that he already had in his hand, slip back into his pocket.
"I'll tell you something more," Barefoot resumed, moving on to another
cow; "the sexton is an enemy of my master's--I want you to know that in
case he tries to get hold of you."
"Yes, yes, it's evidently worth while to talk with you. But I notice
that you have a swollen face; there's no point in your tying your head
up, if you continue to go about barefoot like that."
"I am used to it," replied Barefoot, "but I will follow your advice.
Footsteps were heard approaching.
"We will talk together again," said the young man, and then he went
"I thank you, swollen cheek," said Barefoot to herself, stroking her
disfigured face; "you have done me a good turn. Through you I can talk
to him as if I were not here; I can speak behind a mask, like a clown on
Shrove Tuesday. Hurrah--that is merry!"
It was wonderful how this inward cheerfulness almost counteracted her
bodily fever. She felt merely tired--indescribably tired; and she was
half-pleased and half-sorry when she saw the foreman greasing the wheels
of the Bernese chaise-wagon, and heard that her master was going to ride
out with the stranger immediately. She hurried into the kitchen, and
there she overheard the farmer saying to John in the parlor:
"If you care to take a ride, John, that would be fine. Then, Rose, you
can sit with me in the Bernese chaise, and you, John, can ride alongside
"But your wife is going too, isn't she?" inquired John, after a pause.
"I have a child to nurse, and cannot go away," said the farmer's wife.
"And I don't like to be driving about the country on a working-day,"
"Oh nonsense! When a cousin comes, you may take a holiday," urged the
farmer; for he wanted Rose to go with him at once to Farmer Furche's,
that the latter might entertain no hopes for his own daughter. Moreover
he was aware that a little excursion of this kind does more to bring
people together than a week's visit in the house.
John was silent; and the farmer in his urgency nudged him, and said in a
"Do you speak to her; maybe she will be more apt to do as you say, and
will go with us."
"I think," said John aloud, "that your sister is quite right in
preferring not to be driving about the country in the middle of the
week. I'll harness my white horse with yours, and then we can see how
they pull together. And we shall be back by supper-time, if not before."
Barefoot, who heard all this, bit her lips to keep from laughing.
"You see," she thought to herself, "you have not even got him by the
halter yet, much less by the bridle. He won't let himself be driven
about the country like a betrothed man, and then not be able to get
She felt so warm with joy, that she was obliged to take the handkerchief
from her face.
It was a strange day in the house. Rose repeated half-angrily the
peculiar questions that John had asked her. Barefoot rejoiced inwardly;
for all that he wanted to know--and she knew well why he wanted to know
it--could have been satisfactorily answered by her.
"But what good does it all do?" she asked herself. "He does not know
you, and even if he did know you, you are a poor orphan and a servant,
and nothing could ever come of it. He does not know you, and will not
ask about you."
In the evening, when the two men came back, Barefoot had already been
able to remove the handkerchief from her forehead; but the one she had
tied over her temples and under her chin, she was obliged to keep on
still, drawn tightly around her face. John himself seemed to have
neither tongue nor eyes for her. But his dog was with her in the kitchen
all the time, and she fed the creature and stroked it and talked to it.
"Yes, if you could only tell him everything, you would be sure to tell
him the whole truth." The dog laid its head on Barefoot's lap, and
looked up at her with intelligent eyes; then he seemed to shake his
head, as if to say: "It is too bad, but unfortunately I cannot speak."
Barefoot now went into the bed-room and began singing to the children
again, although they had long been asleep; she sang various songs, but
most of all the waltz to which she had danced with John. John listened
to her as if bewildered, and seemed to be absent-minded when he spoke.
Rose went into the room, and told Barefoot to be quiet.
Late at night, when Barefoot had just drawn some water for Black
Marianne and was returning to her parents' house with the full pail on
her head, John met her as he was going to the tavern. With a suppressed
voice she bade him a "Good evening."
"Oh, it is you!" said John. "Where are you going with that water at this
"To Black Marianne."
"Who is that?"
"A poor woman, who is sick in bed."
"Why, Rose told me that there were no poor people here."
"Good heavens! there are more than enough. But Rose no doubt said that,
because she thought it would be a disgrace to the village. She's
good-hearted, you may believe me--and she's fond of giving things away."
"You are a loyal friend. But you mustn't stand there with that heavy
pail. May I go with you?"
"You are right; you are doing a kind deed, and nothing can harm you. And
you need not be afraid of me."
"I am not afraid of anybody, and of you least of all. I saw today that
you are kind."
"When did you see that?"
"When you advised me how to cure my swollen face. Your advice was
good--you see, I have my shoes on now."
"That's a good thing that you are obedient," said John with an approving
glance; and the dog, too, seemed to notice his approval of Barefoot, for
he jumped up at her and licked her free hand.
"Come here, Lux!" cried John.
"No, let him alone," said Barefoot. "We are already good friends--he has
been in the kitchen with me all day long. All dogs are fond of me and of
"So you have a brother?"
"Yes, and I wanted to appeal to you very earnestly to take him as a
servant on your farm. You would be doing a very charitable deed, and he
would be sure to serve you faithfully all his life."
"Where is your brother?"
"Down yonder in the woods; just now he is a charcoal-burner."
"Why, we have few trees and no kiln at all. I could more easily find
work for a field-laborer."
"He'd be able to do that work, too. But here is the house."
"I'll wait until you come out," said John. Barefoot went in to put down
the water, and arrange the fire, and make Marianne comfortable in bed.
When she came out John was still standing there and the dog jumped up at
her. For a long time they stood under the parental tree, which rustled
quietly and bowed its branches. They talked of all kinds of things; John
praised her cleverness and her quick mind, and at last said:
"If you should ever want to change your place, you would be the very
person for my mother."
"That is the greatest praise that anybody in the world could give me!"
Barefoot declared. "I still have a keepsake from your mother." And then
she related the incident of their meeting his mother, and both laughed
when Barefoot told how Damie could not forget that Dame Landfried owed
him a pair of leather-breeches.
"And he shall have them," John declared.
They then walked back together as far as the village, and John gave her
his hand when he bade her "Good night." Barefoot wanted to tell him that
he had shaken hands with her once before, but, as if frightened by the
thought, she fled away from him and ran into the house; she did not even
return his "Good night." John, puzzled and thoughtful, returned to his
room at the "Heathcock."
The next morning Barefoot found that the swelling in her face had
vanished as if by magic. And never had she caroled more gaily through
the house and yard, through the stable and barn, than she did today. And
yet today was the day when it was to be decided, the day that John was
to declare himself. Farmer Rodel did not want to have his sister talked
about by any one, in case it should all come to nothing after all.
Nearly the whole day John sat in the room with Rose, who was making a
man's shirt. Toward evening Mistress Rodel's parents came, along with
other relatives. It must be decided one way or the other today.
The roast was sputtering in the kitchen, the pine wood cracking and
snapping, and Barefoot's cheeks were glowing, heated by the fire on the
hearth and the fire that was burning within her. Crappy Zachy walked
back and forth and up and down with an air of great importance, and made
himself very much at home--he even smoked Farmer Rodel's pipe.
"Then it is settled after all," said Barefoot to herself, mournfully.
Night had come. Many lights were burning in the house, and Rose, in
festive attire, was hurrying back and forth between the room and the
kitchen, though she did not know how to give any help. Everything was
And now the young farmer's wife said to Barefoot:
"Go upstairs and put on your Sunday dress."
"You must wait on the table today, and you'll get a better present."
"I would rather stay in the kitchen."
"No, do as I tell you--and make haste."
Amrei went up to her room and sat down for a moment on her box in order
to get her breath. She was dead tired. If she could only go to sleep now
and never wake up again! But duty called. Hardly had she taken the first
piece of her Sunday dress in her hand, when a feeling of joy came over
her; and the evening sun, sending a red beam into the little attic,
shone upon a pair of glowing cheeks.
"Put on your Sunday dress!" She had but one Sunday dress, and that was
the one she had worn that day at the wedding in Endringen. Every
flutter, every rustle of the dress reminded her of the happiness she had
experienced, and of the waltz she had danced on that eventful day. But
as darkness followed the setting of the sun, so did sorrow follow
gladness; and she said to herself that she was thus adorning herself
only to do honor to John, and to show how much she valued whatever came
from his family, she at last put on the necklace.
Thus, adorned as she had been on the day of the wedding at Endringen,
Amrei came down from her room.
"What is this? What did you dress yourself up like that for?" cried Rose
angrily. She was already anxious and impatient because the visitor was
so long in making his appearance. "Why do you put all your possessions
on? Is that a fit necklace for a servant, with a coin hanging to it? You
take that off directly!"
"No, I shall not do that; for his mother gave it to me when I was a
little child, and I had it on when we danced together at Endringen."
Something was heard to fall on the staircase; but nobody heeded it, for
Rose screamed out:
"What! You good-for-nothing, horrible witch! You would have perished in
rags if we had not taken you up! And now you want to take my betrothed
"Don't call him that until he is your betrothed," replied Amrei, with a
strange mixture of feelings in her voice.
"Wait! I'll show you what you've got to do!" shrieked Rose. "Take
that!" and she dragged Barefoot down to the ground and struck her in the
"I'll take my things off! Let me go!" screamed Barefoot.
But Rose let go before she had finished saying it; for, as if he had
risen out of the ground, John was standing before her! He was as pale as
death, and his lips were quivering. He could not speak, but merely
raised his hand to protect Barefoot, who was still kneeling on the
Barefoot was the first to speak; she cried out:
"Believe me, John, I have never seen her like that before, never in my
whole life! And it was my fault."
"Yes, it was your fault. And, now, come; you shall go with me and be
mine. Will you? I have found you, and I did not seek you. But now you
shall live with me and be my wife. It is God's will."
If any one could have seen Barefoot's eyes then! But no mortal eye has
ever fully seen a flash of lightning in the heavens, for no matter how
firmly we look, our eyes are sure to be dazzled. And there are also
flashes in the human eye which are never fully seen, just as there are
workings in the human heart which are never fully understood. A
momentary flash of joy, such as may brighten the face when the heavens
are opened, darted from Amrei's eyes. She covered her face with both
hands, and the tears ran forth from between her fingers.
John stood with his hand upon her. All the relatives had gathered
around, and were gazing with astonishment at the strange scene.
"What's all this with Barefoot? What's all this?" blustered Farmer
"So, your name is Barefoot?" cried John. He laughed loud and heartily,
and added: "Come, now, will you have me? Say so now, for here we have
witnesses to confirm it. Say 'Yes,' and nothing but death shall part
"Yes!--and nothing but death shall part us!" cried Barefoot, throwing
herself on his neck.
"Very well--then take her out of this house at once!" roared Farmer
Rodel, foaming with rage.
"Yes, you need not tell me to do that. I thank you for your good
reception, cousin. When you come to us some day, we'll make it quits,"
replied John. He put both hands up to his head, and cried: "Good
heavens! Mother, mother, how glad you will be!"
"Go up, Barefoot, and take your box away at once; for nothing belonging
to you shall remain in my house!" commanded Farmer Rodel.
"Very well," replied John; "but that can be done with less noise. Come,
Barefoot, I'll go with you. But tell me what your real name is."
"I was once to have married an Amrei--she is the 'Butter Countess!'--you
are my Salt Countess! Hurrah! Now come; I should like to see your room,
where you have lived so long. Now you shall have a large house!"
The dog, with the hairs on his back standing up like bristles, kept
walking around Farmer Rodel; he saw that the latter would have been glad
to choke John. Only when John and Barefoot were at the top of the stairs
did the dog come running after them.
John let the box stand, because he could not take it on his horse. But
they packed Barefoot's possessions into the sack which she had inherited
from her father.
As they were descending the stairs together on their way out, Barefoot
felt somebody quietly press her hand in the dark--it was her mistress
who was thus taking leave of her. At the threshold, with her hand upon
the door-post against which she had so often leaned, she said sadly:
"May God reward this house for all good, and forgive it for all evil!"
They had gone but a few paces when Barefoot called out: "Good heavens! I
have forgotten all my shoes! They are upstairs on the shelf!"
Scarcely had she spoken the words, when the shoes, as if they were
running after their owner, came flying out of the window and down into
"Run to the devil in them!" cried a voice from the garret window. The
voice sounded masculine, and yet it belonged to Rose.
Barefoot collected the shoes and took them to the tavern with John, who
carried the sack on his back.
The moon was shining brightly, and the whole village was already asleep.
Barefoot would not stay at the tavern.
"Then I should like to go home this very night," said John.
"Before I do anything else," replied Barefoot, "I must go to Black
Marianne. She has filled a mother's place for me, and I have not seen
her today, and have not been able to do anything for her. And besides
that, she's ill. Alas! It is too bad that I shall have to leave her; but
what am I to do? Come, go with me to her."
They went together to the house. When Barefoot opened the inside door a
moonbeam fell upon the angel on the stove, just as a sunbeam had fallen
on that day of long ago. And it seemed to smile and dance more merrily.
Barefoot cried with a loud voice:
"Marianne! Marianne! Wake up, Marianne! Happiness and blessing are here!
The old woman sat up in bed; the moonlight fell upon her face and neck.
She opened her eyes wide and said:
"What is it? What is it? Who calls?"
"Rejoice! Here I bring you my John!"
"My John!" screamed the old woman, "Good God, my John! How long--how
long--I have thee--I have thee! Oh God, I thank thee a thousand and a
thousand times! Oh, my child, my boy! I see thee with a thousand eyes,
and a thousandfold--No, there--there--thy hand! Come here--there--there
in the chest is thy dowry! Take the cloth! My son! my boy! Yes, yes, she
is thine! John, my son, my son! my--"
The old woman laughed convulsively, and fell back in her bed. Amrei and
John had knelt down beside her, and when they stood up and bent over
her, she had ceased to breathe.
"Oh, heavens! She is dead! Joy killed her!" exclaimed Barefoot. "She
took you for her son. She died happy. Oh, why is it thus in the world,
why is it thus?" She sank down by the bed again, and sobbed bitterly.
At last John raised her up, and Barefoot closed the dead woman's eyes.
For a long time they stood together beside the bed; then Barefoot said:
"Come, I will wake up people who will watch by her body. God has been
very gracious; she would have no one to care for her when I was gone.
And God has given her the greatest joy in the last moment of her life.
How long, oh, how long, she waited for that joy!"
"Yes, but you cannot stay here now," said John. "You must go with me
this very night."
Barefoot woke up the gravedigger's wife, and sent her to Black Marianne.
Her mind was so wonderfully composed that she remembered to tell the
woman that the flowers, which stood on her window-ledge at the farm,
were to be planted on Black Marianne's grave; and especially that she
was not to forget to put Black Marianne's hymn-book under her head, as
she had always wished.
When at last she had arranged everything, she stood up erect and,
stretching out her arms, said:
"Now everything is done. You must forgive me, good man, that I was
obliged to bring you to a house of sorrow; and forgive me, too, if I am
not now as I should wish to be. I see now that all is well, and that God
has ordered it for the best. But still I shake with fear in every
limb--it is a hard thing to die. You cannot imagine how I have almost
puzzled my brains out about it. But now all is well, and I will be
cheerful--for I am the happiest girl in the world!"
"Yes, you are right.--But come, let us go. Will you ride with me on my
horse?" asked John.
"Yes. Is it the white horse that you had at the wedding at Endringen?"
"To be sure!"
"And, oh, that Farmer Rodel! If he didn't send to Lauterbach the night
before you came and have a white horse brought from there, so as to get
you to come to his house. Holloa! white horse, go home again!" she
concluded, almost merrily.
And thus their thoughts and feelings returned to ordinary life, and from
it they learned to appreciate their happiness anew.
[The two lovers mount the white horse, which Amrei suggests they call
"Silverstep," and start out through the moonlight for John's home. As
they ride along they talk and sing and tell stories and enjoy themselves
as only lovers can. At Amrei's request, they stop on the way to see
Damie, who is with Coaly Mathew in the forest; Amrei tells him all that
has happened, and John promises to make him an independent herdsman, and
gives him a silver-mounted pipe. Damie, inwardly rejoiced, but, as
usual, not over-appreciative, reminds him of the "pair of leather
breeches," a debt which John also promises to pay. Damie then displays
unexpected cleverness by performing a mock-ceremony, in which he compels
John to ask him, as his sister's only living relative, for Amrei's hand.
Damie surprises his sister by doing this with considerable histrionic
success, so that the two lovers start out again more merry than ever.]
OVER HILL AND VALE
The day had dawned when the two lovers reached the town; and already
long before, when they encountered the first early-riser, they had
alighted. They felt that they must have a strange appearance, and
regarded this first person they met as a herald who had come to remind
them of the fact that they must adapt themselves to the order of human
conventionalities. So they dismounted, and John led the horse with one
hand and held Amrei with the other. Thus they went on in silence, and as
often as they looked at each other, their faces shone like those of
children newly waked from sleep; but as often as they looked down, they
became thoughtful and anxious about the immediate future.
Amrei, as if she had already been discussing the subject with John, and
in complete confidence that his mind must have been dwelling on the same
thoughts, now said:
"To be sure, it would have been more sensible if we had done the thing
in a more normal way. You should have gone home first, and meanwhile I
should have stayed somewhere--at Coaly Mathew's in the forest, if we
could have done no better. Then you could have come with your mother to
fetch me, or could have written to me, and I could have come to you with
my Damie. But do you know what I think?"
"Not everything you think."
"I think that regret is the most stupid feeling one can possibly
cherish. Do what you will, you cannot make yesterday into today. What we
did, in the midst of our rejoicing, that was right, and must remain
right. Now that our minds have been become more sober again, we can't
waste any time reproving ourselves. What we have to think of now is, how
shall we do everything right in the future? But you are such a
right-minded man that you will know what is right. And you can tell me
everything you think, only tell me honestly; if you say what you mean,
you won't hurt me, but if you keep anything back from me, you will hurt
me. But you don't regret it, do you?"
"Can you answer a riddle?" asked John.
"Yes, as a child I used to be able to do that well."
"Then tell me what this is--it is a simple, plain word: Take away the
first letter, and you're ready to tear your hair out; put it back again,
and all is firm and sure?"
"That's easy," said Barefoot, "easy as anything; it's Truth and Ruth."
At the first inn by the gate they stopped off; and Amrei, when she and
John were alone in the room, and the latter had ordered some good
"How splendidly the world is arranged! These people have provided a
house, and tables, and benches, and chairs, and a kitchen, in which the
fire is burning, and they have coffee, and milk and sugar, and fine
dishes, and it is all ready for us as if we had ordered it. And when we
go farther on we find more people and more houses, with all we want in
them. It's like it is in the fairy-tale, 'Table, be covered!'"
"But you have to have the 'Loaf, come out of the bag!' too," said John,
and he reached into his pocket and drew forth a handful of money.
"Without that you'll get nothing."
"Yes, to be sure," said Amrei; "whoever has those wheels can roll
through the world. But tell me, John--did coffee ever taste to you in
your whole life like this? And the fresh white bread! Only you have
ordered too much; we cannot manage all this. The bread I shall take with
me, but it's a pity about the good coffee. How many poor people could be
refreshed by it, and we must let it go to waste. And yet you have to pay
for it just the same."
"That's no matter; one cannot figure so accurately in the world."
"Yes, yes, you are right. You see, I have been accustomed to do with
little. You must not take it amiss if I say things of that kind--I do it
Presently Amrei got up. Her face was glowing, and when she stood before
the glass, she exclaimed:
"Gracious heavens! How can it be? All this seems almost impossible!"
"Well, there are still some hard planks to pierce; but I am not worrying
about that. Now lie down and rest for a short time while I look for a
Bernese chaise-wagon--you can't ride on horseback with me in the
daytime--and we want one anyway."
"I cannot sleep--I have a letter to write to Haldenbrunn. I am away from
there now, and yet I enjoyed a great many good times there. And I have
other matters to settle, besides."
"Very well, do that until I come back."
John went out, and Amrei wrote a long letter to the Magistrate in
Haldenbrunn, thanking the entire community for benefits received, and
promising to adopt a child from the place some day, if it were possible;
and she once more begged to have Black Marianne's hymn-book placed under
the good old woman's head. When she had finished, she sealed the letter
and pressed her lips tight together with the remark:
"So! Now I have done my duty to the people of Haldenbrunn."
But she quickly tore the letter open again, for she considered it her
duty to show John what she had written. But a long time passed and he
did not return. And Amrei blushed when the chatty hostess said:
"I suppose your husband has some business at the Town-hall?"
It seemed to strike her with a strange shock to have John called her
"husband" for the first time.
She could not answer, and the hostess looked at her in wonder. She knew
no other way of escaping from her strange glances than by going out in
front of the house, where she sat on some piled-up boards for a long
time, waiting for John. It was, indeed, a long time before he did come
back; and when at last she caught sight of him, she said:
"When something calls you away like that again, you'll take me with you,
"Oh," he answered, "so you were afraid, were you? Did you think I had
gone off and left you? What would you think if I were to leave you here
and simply ride away?"
Amrei started, and then she said, severely:
"I can't say that you are very witty; in fact to joke about such a thing
as that is miserably stupid. I am sorry that you said that; for you did
something that is bad for you if you realize it, and bad for you if you
don't realize it. You talk about riding away, and think that I am to cry
to amuse you. Do you imagine, perhaps, that because you have a horse and
money, you can do as you please with me? No, your horse carried us away
together, and I came with you. What would you think if I were to say
jokingly: 'How would it be if I left you alone?' I am sorry that you
made such a jest!"
"Yes, yes, I'll say that you are right. But now, forget about it."
"No! I talk of a thing as long as there is anything about it in me, when
I am the offended person, and it is for me to stop talking about it when
I choose. And you offended yourself, too, in this matter--I mean your
real self, the person you are, and ought to be. When any one else says
anything that is not right, I can jump over it, but on you there must
not be a single spot; and believe me, to joke about such a thing as
that, is as if one took the crucifix yonder to play with as a doll."
"Oho, it's not as bad as that! But it seems to me you can't appreciate a
"I can appreciate one very well, as you shall see, but no such a one as
that. But now, that's enough about it; now I have finished and shall
think nothing more of it."
This little incident showed both of them early that, with all their
mutual devotion, they must be careful with each other. Amrei felt that
she had been too severe, whereas John was made to realize that it did
not behoove him to make jest of Amrei's solitary position, and of her
absolute dependence upon him. They did not say this to each other, but
each of them knew that the other felt it.
The little cloud that had thus come up soon evaporated under the bright
sun that now broke through it. And Amrei rejoiced like a child when a
pretty, green Bernese chaise-wagon came, with a round, padded seat in
it; and before the horse had been hitched to it, she took her seat and
clapped her hands with joy.
"Now you have only to make me fly!" she said to John, who was busy
hitching the horse. "I have ridden horseback with you, and now I am
driving with you; there is nothing left for me to do but fly." [The two
lovers now started out again, and were supremely happy as they rode
along, discussing all sorts of things. They came upon an old woman by
the road-side, and it gave Amrei a thrill of satisfaction she never
before had felt to be able to throw out a pair of shoes to her. John
commended this charitable instinct in her, and then began to tell her
all about his home.]
Was it by a tacit agreement, or was it due to the influence which the
present time exerted upon them, that they spoke not a word of how their
arrival at John's house was to be arranged until toward noon, when they
reached the outskirts of Zumarshofen? Only when they began to meet
people who knew John, and who saluted him with glances of wonder at his
companion, did he declare to Amrei that he had thought of two ways in
which the thing might best be done. Either he would take Amrei to his
sister, who lived a short distance further on--one could see the steeple
of her village peering up from behind a hill--and then go home alone and
explain everything, or else he would take Amrei home at once--that is,
she should get down half a mile before they got there, and enter the
house alone in the character of a maid.
Amrei showed great cleverness in explaining what should guide them in
this matter, and what might come of their adopting either of the two
methods of procedure proposed by John. If she stopped at his sister's,
she would first have to win over to her side a person who would not be
the one with whom the final decision lay, and it might result in all
kinds of complications, the end of which could not be foreseen. And
moreover, it would always be an unpleasant reflection, and there would
be all sorts of remarks made about it--as if she had not dared to go
straight to the house. The second plan seemed to her the better one; but
it went against her very soul to enter the house by means of a
deception. His mother, to be sure, had promised years ago to take her
into her service; but she did not want to go into her service now, and
it would be almost like stealing to try to worm herself into favor with
the old people in that way. And furthermore in such a disguise she would
be sure to do everything clumsily; she would not be able to be natural
and straightforward, and if she had to place a chair for his father, she
would be sure to overturn it, for she would always be thinking: "You are
doing this to deceive him." Moreover, even supposing all this could be
done, how could she afterward appear before the servants, when they
learned that their mistress had been obliged to smuggle herself into the
house as a maid? And she would not be able to speak a single word with
John all the time. She closed her explanation with the words:
"I have told you this only because you wanted to hear my opinion, too,
and if you talk anything over with me, I must speak out freely what is
in my mind. But I tell you, at the same time, whatever you wish, and
whatever you tell me to do, I shall do it. If you say it should be so,
so it shall be. I'll obey you without objection, and whatever you lay
upon me to do, that shall I do as best I can."
"Yes, yes, you are right," said John, absorbed in thought. "They are
both crooked ways, the first the less so. But now that we are so near
home, we must make up our minds quickly. Do you see that bare patch in
the forest yonder on the hill, with the little hut on it? And do you see
the cows, which look as small as beetles? That's our upland pasture,
that's where I intend to put your Damie."
Amrei cried out in amazement:
"Good heavens! To think where men will venture!--But that must be good
"So it is; but when father gives up the farm to me, I shall introduce
more stall-feeding--it's the better way. But old people are fond of
retaining old customs. But why are we chattering again? And now that we
are so near! If I had only thought about this sooner! My head seems on
"Only keep calm; we must think it over quietly. I have a vague idea of a
way it can be done, but it doesn't seem quite plain yet."
"Ah! What do you think?"
"No, you think about it too. Perhaps you'll hit upon the right way
yourself. It's a matter for you to arrange, and both of our minds are in
such confusion now, that it will be a relief to us if we both hit upon a
way at once."
"Yes, I have an idea already. In the next village but one there is a
clergyman, whom I know very well, and who will give us the best advice.
But wait! Here is a better way yet. Suppose I stay yonder in the valley
at the miller's, and you go up to the farm and simply tell my parents
the whole story. You'll have my mother on your side directly; and you
are clever, and you'll manage my father in no time so that you can wind
him around your finger. Yes, that is the best way. Then we shan't have
to wait, and we shall have asked no stranger for help. What do you
think? Is that putting too much upon you?"
"That was exactly my idea too. So now there is no more considering to be
done, no more at all. That way shall stand as fast as if it were down in
ink. That's the way it shall be done, and 'quick to work makes the
master.' Oh, you don't know what a dear, good, splendid, honest fellow
"No, it's you! But that is all the same now, for we two are but one
honest person, and so we shall remain. Look here--give me your hand;
that yonder is our first field. God greet thee, wifee, for now thou art
at home! And hurrah! there's our stork flying up. Stork! cry 'Welcome;'
this is your new mistress! 'I'll tell you more later!' Now, Amrei, don't
be gone too long, and send some one down to me at the mill as soon as
you can--if the wagoner is at home, you'd best send him, for he can run
like a hare. There, do you see that house yonder, with the stork's nest,
and the two barns on the hillside, to the left of the wood? There's a
linden by the house--do you see it?"
"That's our house. Now, come, get you down. You can't miss your way
John got down and helped Amrei out of the chaise. The girl, holding the
necklace, which she had put into her pocket, like a rosary in her
clasped hands, prayed silently; John also took off his hat, and his lips
moved. The two did not say another word to each other, but Amrei went on
alone. John stood looking after her for a long time, leaning against the
white horse. Once she turned about and tried to coax the dog to return
to his master. But he would not go; he would run aside into the field,
and then start to follow her again; and not until John whistled, did the
creature come back to him.
John drove on to the mill and stopped there. He learned that his father
had been there an hour ago to wait for him, but had gone away again.
John was glad to hear that his father was strong and on his feet again,
and glad because he knew that Amrei would now find both his parents at
home. The people in the mill could not understand why John lingered with
them, and yet would hardly listen to a word they said. He kept going in
and out, and looking up the road toward the farm; for John was very
anxious and restless. He counted the steps that Amrei had to go; now she
would be in the fields, now she would have to go to this, now to that
hedge; now she would be speaking to his parents. And after all he could
not completely satisfy himself as to just what she would be doing.
THE FIRST HEARTH-FIRE
Meanwhile Amrei went on, wrapped in thought. Her manner showed the
effect of the self-reliance she had learned to practice in her
childhood. It was not for nothing that she had been accustomed to solve
riddles, and that from day to day she had struggled with life's
difficulties. The whole strength of the character she had acquired was
firmly and securely implanted within her. Without further question, as
a man goes forward to meet a necessity, quiet and self-possessed, so did
she, boldly and of good courage, go on her way.
She had not gone far when she saw a farmer sitting by the wayside, with
a red cane between his legs; and on this cane he was resting his two
hands and his chin.
"God greet you," said Amrei. "Are you enjoying a rest?"
"Yes. Where are you going?"
"Up yonder to the farm. Are you going there too? If so, you may lean on
"Yes, that is the way," said the old man with a grin. "Thirty years ago
I should have cared more about it, if such a pretty girl had said that
to me; I should have jumped like a colt."
"But to those who can jump like colts one doesn't say such things,"
replied Amrei, laughing.
"You are rich," said the old man. He seemed to like to talk, and smiled
as he took a pinch of snuff out of his horn snuff-box.
"How can you tell that I am rich?"
"Your teeth are worth ten thousand guilders. There's many a one would
give ten thousand guilders to have them in his mouth."
"I have no time for jesting. Now, God keep you!"
"Wait a little. I'll go with you--but you must not walk too fast." Amrei
carefully helped the old man to his feet, and he remarked:
"You are strong,"--and in his teasing way he made himself more helpless
and heavier than he actually was. As they walked along, he asked:
"To whom are you going at the farm?"
"To the farmer and his wife."
"What do you want of them?"
"That I shall tell them."
"Well, if you want anything of them, you had better turn back at once.
The mistress would give you something, but she has no authority to, and
the farmer, he's tight--he's got a board on his neck, and a stiff thumb
into the bargain."
"I don't want anything given me--I bring them something," said Amrei.
On the way they met an older man going to the field with his scythe; and
the old farmer walking with Amrei called out to him with a queer blink
in his eyes:
"Do you know if miserly Farmer Landfried is at home?"
"I think so, but I don't know," answered the man with the scythe, and he
turned away into the field.
There was a peculiar twitching in his face. And now, as he walked along,
his shoulders seemed to Amrei to be shaking up and down; he was
evidently laughing. Amrei looked at her companion's face and saw the
roguery in it. Suddenly she recognized in the withered features the face
of the man to whom she had given a jug of water, years ago, on the
Holderwasen. Snapping her fingers softly, she said to herself:
"Stop! Now I know!" And then she added aloud: "It's wrong of you to
speak in that way of the Farmer to a stranger like me, whom you don't
know, and who might be a relative of his. And I'm sure it is not true
what you say. They do say, to be sure, that the Farmer is tight; but
when you come right down to it, I dare say he has an honest heart, and
simply doesn't like to make an outcry about it when he does a good deed.
And a man who has such good children as his are said to be, must be a
good man himself. And perhaps he likes to make himself out bad before
the world, simply because he doesn't care what others think of him; and
I don't think the worse of him for that."
"You have not left your tongue behind you. Where do you come from?"
"Not from this neighborhood--from the Black Forest."
"What's the name of the place?"
"Oh! Have you come all the way from there on foot?"
"No, somebody let me ride with him. He's the son of the Farmer yonder--a
good, honest man."
"Ah, at his age I should have let you ride with me too!"
They had now come to the farm, and the old man went with Amrei into the
room and cried:
"Mother, where are you?"
The wife came out of another room, and Amrei's hands trembled; she would
gladly have fallen upon her neck--but she could not--she dared not.