CHAPTER II. - About forty miles from the place where Hawermann had laid his wife in her quiet grave, was the farm of which Joseph Nüssler, his brother-in-law, was tenant.

About forty miles from the place where Hawermann had laid his wife in her quiet grave, was the farm of which Joseph Nüssler, his brother-in-law, was tenant. The offices were ill-built, had fallen a good deal out of repair, and the yard had altogether a very untidy appearance. There was a large manure-yard here, and a small one there, and carting and agricultural implements were all mixed up together in confused masses like people at a fair; the manure-cart said to the carriage: how did you get here, brother? and the plough asked the harrow to dance, but music was wanting, for there was dead silence in the yard. Every one was busy hay-making in the meadow, for the weather was lovely. No one was looking out of any of the small open windows in the long, low, thatched farm-house, for it was in the afternoon, and the cook had finished her kitchen-work, and the housemaid had done with her sweeping and dusting, and both of them had gone down to the meadow. Even the farmer's wife, who always kept such order in the house, had gone there too, rake in hand, for the hay ought to be in cocks before the evening-dews began to fall.

Still there was life in the house although it was so quiet. In the sitting-room, to the right of the entrance-hall, where the blue-painted cupboard stood — the bar as they called it — and the sofa covered with the black-glazed linen, which was rubbed up with boot-polish every Saturday till it shone again, and the oak chest with the yellow mounting, well, in this room sat two little girls of three years old with round flaxen heads, and round rosy cheeks, playing at making cheeses in a sand-box with their mother's thimble and two penny jars, which they filled with the damp sand, and pressed down as hard as they could, laughing gleefully whenever the lump kept its shape when turned out.

These children were Lina and Mina Nüssler, and with their rosy cheeks and yellow hair they looked for all the world like two little round apples, growing on one stalk. They were twins, and even people who knew them well, found it impossible to say which was Lina and which Mina, for their names were not written on their faces, and if their mother had not given them different coloured ribbons there would have been great mistakes made; even their father, Joseph Nüssler, could not distinguish the one from the other, he called Lina, Mina, and Mina, Lina. But now no such mistakes need be made, for their mother had tied up Lina's flaxen plaits with blue ribbon, and Mina's with red; but if any one had only taken the trouble to look closely at them he must have seen clearly that Joseph Nüssler was wrong, for Lina was half an hour older than Mina, and even when the difference in age is small, still birth-right always makes itself known, and Lina had quite the upper-hand of Mina, but she comforted her little sister whenever she was unhappy.

Besides these unimportant little twins there was yet another set of twins in the room, and they were an old, experienced and very important couple, who were peering down on the children from the oak chest, and shaking in the soft breeze that came in at the open window. These were the grandfather's peruke and the grandmother's best cap, which were hanging on a couple of cap-stands, all ready to play their part on the next day, which was Sunday. — "Look, Lina," said Mina, "there's grandfather's p'uke," she couldn't pronounce the letter "r" properly yet. — "You shouldn't say p'uke, you should say p'uke," said Lina who couldn't pronounce her "rs" a bit better, but being the eldest she had of course to put her little sister on the right way.

The little twins now got up, and standing in front of the chest looked at the old twins on the cap-stands, and Mina, who was still very thoughtless, stretched out her hand, and took her grandfather's peruke from the stand. Then putting it on her own head with a "just look at me" sort of expression, placed herself before the looking-glass, and arranged the wig exactly as her grandfather wore it on Sundays. Now Lina ought to have had more sense, but she began to laugh, and allowing herself to be carried away by the fun of the thing, took her grandmother's mob-cap from the other stand, and put it on in the same way as her grandmother did every Sunday. Then Mina laughed, and then they both laughed, and taking hands began to dance "Kringelkranz-Rosendanz," and then stopped and laughed, and after that they went on dancing again.

But Mina was really too thoughtless, she had kept her toy-jar in her hand, and now in the very midst of the fun she let it fall, and — crash — it was destroyed, and so was the fun. Mina began to cry bitterly over the broken jar, and Lina cried to keep her company, but after this had gone on for a short time Lina began to try to comfort her sister: "Never mind, Mina, the wheel-wright will mend it for you." — "Yes," sobbed Mina, but more quietly than before, "the wheel-wright must mend it." — And then the two sorrowful little creatures went out of doors, quite forgetting that they still had their grandfather's and grandmother's Sunday-finery on their heads.

Now many people would think that it was a silly fancy of Lina's that the wheel-wright could mend the broken jar, but who ever has known a real country wheel-wright is aware that such a man can do anything. When a wether is to be killed, the wheelwright is sent for. When a pane of glass is broken, the wheel-wright has to nail a board across the window that the rain and wind may not get it. When an old chair has lost a leg, he is the doctor who makes it stand steady again. When a bullock is to be blistered, he acts apothecary; in short, he puts everything right that has gone wrong, and so Lina was a very sensible girl when she proposed to take the jar to the wheel-wright.

Just as the children entered the yard a little man came in at the gate. And this little man had a red face, and a very imposing red nose which he always held cocked up in the air. He wore a square cap of no particular colour with a tassel in front, and a long-tailed, loose, grey linen-coat. He always kept his feet turned out in an exaggerated first position which made his short legs look as if they were fastened to his body in the wrong way. He had striped trousers and long boots with yellow tops. He was not stout, and yet he was by no means thin, in fact his figure was beginning to lose its youthful proportions.

The children walked on, and when they had got near enough for the farm-bailiff — for such was the calling of the little man — to see what they were wearing, he stood still, and raised his bushy yellow eye-brows till they were quite hidden under his pointed cap, treating them as if they were the most beautiful part of his face, and must therefore be put away in a safe place out of all danger: "Bless me!" cried he. "What's the matter? — What on earth have you been about? — Why you've got the whole of your old grandparent's Sunday-finery on your heads!" — The two little girls allowed themselves to be deprived of their borrowed plumes without remonstrance, and showing the broken jar, said that the wheel-wright was to mend it. — "What!" exclaimed Mr. farm-bailiff Bräsig — that was the way he liked to be addressed — "is it possible that there is such in summate folly in the world? — Lina, you are the eldest and ought to have been wiser; and, Mina, don't cry any more, you are my little godchild, and so I'll give you a new jar at the summer-fair. And now get away with you into the house." — He drove the little girls before him, and followed carrying the peruke in one hand and the cap in the other.

When he found the sitting-room empty, he said to himself: " Of course, every one's out at the hay. — Well, I ought to be looking after my hay too, but the little round-heads have made such a mess of these two bits of grandeur, that they'd be sure to get into a scrape, if the old people were to see what they've been after; I must stay and repair the mischief that has been done." — With that he pulled out the pocket-comb that he always carried about with him to comb his back-hair over to the front of his head, and so cover the bald place that was beginning to show. He then set to work at the peruke, and soon got that into good order again. But how about the cap? — "What in the name of wonder have you done to this, Lina? — It's morally impossible to get it back to the proper fassong, — Ah — let me think. — What's the old lady like on Sunday afternoons? She has a good bunch of silk curls on each side of her face, then the front of the cap rises about three inches higher than the curls; so the thing must be drawn more to the front. She hasn't anything particular in the middle, for her bald head shows through, but it always goes into a great bunch at the back where it sticks out in a mass of frills. The child has crushed that part frightfully, it must be ironed out." — He put his clenched fist into the cap and pulled out the frills, but just as he thought he was getting them into good order, the string that was run through a caser at the back of the frilled mass gave way, and the whole erection flattened out. — "Faugh!" he cried, sending his eye-brows right up in the air. "It wasn't half strong enough to keep it firm. Only a bit of thread ! And the ends won't knot together again! God bless my soul! whatever induced me to meddle with a cap? — But, wait a bit, I'll manage it yet." — He thrust his hand into his pocket, and drew out a quantity of string of different sizes, for like every farm-bailiff who was worth anything he always carried a good supply of such things about with him. He searched amongst his store for some thing that would suit the case in hand. — "Whip-cord is too thick; but this will do capitally," and then he began to draw a piece of good strong pack-thread through the caser. It was a work of time, and when he had got about half of it done, there was a knock at the door; he threw his work on the nearest chair, and called out: "Come in."

The door opened, and Hawermann entered with his little girl in his arms. Bräsig started up. "What in the," he began solemnly, then interrupting himself, he went on eagerly: "Charles Hawermann, where have you come from?" — "From a place, Bräsig, where I have nothing more to look for," said his friend. "Is my sister at home?" — "Everyone's out at the hay; but what do you mean?" — "That it's all up with me. All the goods that I possessed were sold by auction the day before yesterday, and yesterday morning" — here he turned away to the window — "I buried my wife." — "What? what?" cried the kind-hearted old farm-bailiff, "good God! your wife. Your dear little wife?" and the tears ran down his red face. "Dear old friend, tell me how it all happened." — "Ah, how it all happened?" repeated Hawermann, and seating himself, he told the whole story of his misfortunes as shortly as possible.

Meanwhile, Lina and Mina approached the strange child slowly and shyly, stopping every now and then, and saying nothing, and then they went a little nearer still. At last Lina summoned courage to touch the sleeve of the stranger's frock, and Mina showed her the bits of her jar: "Look, my jar is broken." But the little girl looked round the room uneasily, till at last she fixed her great eyes on her father.

"Yes," said Hawermann, concluding his short story, "things have gone badly with me, Bräsig; I still owe you £ 30, don't ask for it now, only give me time, and if God spares my life, I'll pay you back every farthing honestly." — "Charles Hawermann, Charles Hawermann," said Bräsig, wiping his eyes, and blowing his imposing nose, "you're — you're an ass! Yes," he continued, shoving his handkerchief into his pocket with an emphatic poke, and holding his nose even more in the air than usual, "you're every bit as great an ass as you used to be!" — And then, as if thinking that his friend's thoughts should be led into a new channel, he caught Lina and Mina by the waist-band, and put them on Hawermann's knee, saying: "There, little round heads, that's your uncle." — Just as if Lina and Mina were playthings, and Hawermann were a little child who could be comforted in his grief by a new toy. He, himself, took Hawermann's little Louisa in his arms, and danced about the room with her, his tears rolling down his cheeks the while. After a short time he put the child down upon a chair, upon the very chair on which he had thrown his unfinished work, and right on the top of it too.

In the meanwhile the household had come back from the hay-field, and a woman's clear voice could be heard outside calling to the maids to make haste: "Quick get your hoop and pails, it'll soon be sunset, and this year the fold's*) rather far off. We must just milk the cows in the evening. — Where's your wooden-platter, girl? Go and get it at once. — Now be as quick as you can, I must just go, and have a look at the children." — A tall stately woman of five-and-twenty came into the room. She seemed full of life and energy, her cheeks were rosy with health, work, and the summer air, her hair and eyes were bright, and her forehead, where her chip-hat had sheltered it from the sun, was white as snow. Anyone could see the likeness between her and Hawermann at first sight; still there was a difference, she was well-off, and her whole manner showed that she would work as hard from temperament, as he did from honour and necessity.

*) Translator s note. In Mecklenburg the cows are always milked in the fields.

To see her brother and to spring to him were one and the same action: "Charles, brother Charles, my second father," she cried throwing her arms round his neck, but on looking closer at him, she pushed him away from her, saying: "What's the matter? You've had some misfortune! — What is it?"

Before he had time to answer his sister's questions, her husband, Joseph Nüssler, came in, and going up to Hawermann shook hands with him, and said, taking as long to get out his words as dry weather does to come: "Good-day, brother-in-law; won't you sit down?" — "Let him tell us what's wrong," interrupted his wife impatiently. — "Yes," said Joseph, "sit down and tell us what has happened. — Good-day, Bräsig; be seated, Bräsig." — Then Joseph Nüssler, or as he was generally called, young Joseph, sat down in his own peculiar corner beside the stove. He was a tall, thin man, who never could hold himself erect, and whose limbs bent in all sorts of odd places whenever he wanted to use them in the ordinary manner. He was nearly forty years old, his face was pale, and almost as long as his way of drawling out his words, his soft blond hair, which had no brightness about it, hung down equally long over his forehead and his coat collar. He had never attempted to divide or curl it. When he was a child his mother had combed it straight down over his brow, and so he had continued to do it, and whenever it had looked a little rough and unkempt, his mother used to say: "Never mind, Josy, the roughest colt often makes the finest horse." — Whether it was that his eyes had always been accustomed to peer through the long hair that overhung them, or whether it was merely his nature cannot be known with any certainty, but there was something shy in his expression, as if he never could look anything full in the face, or come to a decision on any subject, and even when his hand went out to the right, his mouth turned to the left. That, however, came from smoking, which was the only occupation he carried out with the slightest perseverance, and as he always kept his pipe in the left corner of his mouth, he, in course of time, had pressed it out a little, and had drawn it down to the left, so that the right side of his mouth looked as if he were continually saying "prunes and prism," while the left side looked as if he were in the habit of devouring children.

There he was now seated in his own particular corner by the stove, and smoking out of his own particular corner of his mouth, and while his lively wife wept in sympathy with her brother's sorrow, and kissed and fondled him and his little daughter alternately, he kept quite still, glancing every now and then from his wife and Hawermann at Bräsig, and muttering through a cloud of tobacco smoke: "It all depends upon what it is. It all depends upon circumstances. — What's to be done now in a case like this?"

Bräsig had quite a different disposition from young Joseph, for instead of sitting still like him, he walked rapidly up and down the room, then seated himself upon the table, and in his excitement and restlessness swung his short legs about like weaver's shuttles. When Mrs. Nüssler kissed and stroked her brother, he did the same; and when Mrs. Nüssler took the little child and rocked it in her arms, he took it from her and walked two or three times up and down the room with it, and then placed it on the chair again, and always right on the top of the grandmother's best cap.

"Bless me!" cried Mrs. Nüssler at last, "I quite forgot. — Bräsig, you ought to have thought of it. You must all want something to eat and drink!" — She went to the blue cupboard, and brought out a splendid loaf of white household bread and some fresh butter, then she went out of the room and soon returned with sausages, ham and cheese, a couple of bottles of the strong beer that was brewed on purpose for old Mr. Nüssler, and a jug of milk for the children. When everything was neatly arranged on a white table-cloth, she placed a seat for her brother, and lifting her little niece, chair and all, put her beside her father. Then she set to work and cut slices of bread, and poured out the beer, and saw that there was enough for everybody.

"I'll be ready to give you something presently," she said, stroking her little girls' flaxen heads fondly, "but I must see to your little cousin first. — Here's a chair for you, Bräsig — Come, Joseph." — "All right," said Joseph, blowing a last long cloud of smoke out of the left corner of his mouth, and then dragging his chair forward, half sitting on it all the time.' — "Charles," said Bräsig, "I can recommend these sausages. Your sister, Mrs. Nüssler, makes them most capitally, and I've often told my housekeeper that she ought to ask for the receipt, for you see the old woman mixes up all sorts of queer things that oughtn't to go together at all; in short, the flavour is very extraordinary and not in the least what it ought to be, although each of the ingredients separately is excellent, and made of a pig properly fattened on pease." — "Mother, give Bräsig some more beer," said Joseph. — "No more, thank you, Mrs. Nüssler. May I ask for a little kummel instead? — Charles, since the time that I was learning farming at old Knirkstadt with you, and that rascal Pomuchelskopp, I've always been accustomed to drink a tiny little glass of kummel at breakfast and supper, and it agrees with me very well, I am thankful to say. But, Charles , whatever induced you to have any business transactions with such a rascal as Pomuchelskopp? I told you long ago that he was not to be trusted, he's a regular old Venetian, he's a cunning dog, in short, he's a — Jesuit." — "Ah, Bräsig," said Hawermann, "we won't talk about it. He might have treated me differently; but still it was my own fault, I oughtn't to have agreed to his terms. — I'm thinking of something else now. I wish I could get something to do!" — "Of course, you must get a situation as soon as possible. — The Count, my master, is looking out for a steward for his principal estate, but don't be angry with me for saying so Charles, I don't think that it would do for you. — You see, you'd have to go to the Count every morning with lacquered-boots, and a cloth coat, and you'd have to speak High-German, for he considers our provincial way of talking very rude and uncultivated. And then you'd have all the women bothering you, for they have a great say in all the arrangements. You might perhaps manage with the boots, and the coat, and the High-German — though you're rather out of practice — but you'd never get on with the women. The Countess is always poking about to see that all's going on rightly in the cattle-sheds and pig-sties, — in short — it's, it's as bad as Sodom and Gomorrah."— "Bless me!" cried Mrs. Nüssler, "I remember now. The farm-bailiff ac Pümpelhagen left at the midsummer-term, and that would just be the place for you, Charles." — "Mrs. Nüssler is right as usual," said Bräsig. "As for the Counsellor*) at Pümpelhagen" — he always gave the squire of Pümpelhagen his professional title, and laid such an emphasis on the word counsellor that one might have thought that he and Mr. von Rambow had served their time in the army together, or at least had eaten their soup out of the same bowl with the same spoon — "As for the Counsellor at Pümpelhagen, he is very kind to all his people, gives a good salary, and is quite a gentleman of the old school. He knows all about you too. It's just the very thing for you, Charles, and I'll go with you to-morrow. — What do you say, young Joseph?" — "Ah!" said Mr. Nüssler meditatively, "it all depends upon circumstances." — "Good gracious!" exclaimed Mrs. Nüssler with a look of anxiety on her pretty face. "I'm forgetting everything to-day. If grandfather and grandmother ever find out that we've been having a supper-party here without their knowledge, they'll never forgive me as long as I live. — Sit a little closer-children. — You might have reminded me, Joseph." — "What shall I do now?" asked Joseph, but she had already left the room.

*) Tratislator’s note. The Kammer is the chief government office in Mecklenburg, and Mr. von Rambow was a member of it.

A few minutes later she came back, accompanied by the two old people. There was an expression of anxious watchfulness and aimless attention in both faces, such as deaf people often have, and which is apt to degenerate into a look of inanity and distrust. — It is a very true saying that when a husband and wife have lived many years together, and have shared each other's thoughts and interests, they at last grow to be like one another in appearance, and even when the features are different the expression becomes the same. Old Mr. and Mrs. Nüssler looked thoroughly soured, and as if they had never had the least bit of happiness or enjoyment all their lives long, such things being too expensive for them; their clothes were thread-bare and dirty, as if they must always be save, saving, and even found water a luxury that cost too much money. There was nothing comfortable about their old age, not a single gleam of kindliness shone in their lack-lustre eyes, for they had never had but one joy, and that was their son Joseph, and his getting on in the world. They were now worn out, and everything was tiresome to them, even their one joy, their son Joseph, was tiresome, but they were still anxious and troubled about his getting on in the world, that was the only thing they cared for now. The old man had become a little childish, but his wife had still all her wits about her, and could spy and pry into every hole and corner, to see that everything was going on as she wished.

Hawermann rose and shook hands with the old people, while his sister stood close by looking at them anxiously, to see what they thought of the visitor. She had already explained to them in a few words, why her brother had come, and that may have been the reason that the old faces looked even sourer than usual, but still it might be because she had provided a better supper than she generally did. They seated themselves at table. The old woman caught sight of Hawermann's little girl: "Is that his child?" she asked. — Her daughter-in-law nodded. — "Is she going to remain here?" she asked. — Her daughter-in-law nodded again. — "O — h!" said the old woman, drawling out the word till it was long enough to cover all the harm she thought the cost of the child's keep would bring upon her Joseph. "Yes, these are hard times," she continued, as though she thought speaking of the times would best settle the question, "very hard times, and every man has enough to do to get on in the world himself" — Meanwhile the old man had done nothing but stare at the bottle of beer and at Bräsig's glass: "Is that my beer?" he asked. — "Yes," shouted Brasig in his ear, "and most excellent beer it is that Mrs. Nüssler brews, it's a capital rajeunissimang for a weak stomach! " — " What extravagance! What extravagance!" grumbled the old man. — His wife eat her supper, but never took her eyes off the oak chest opposite.

Young Mrs. Nüssler, who must have studied the peculiarities of her mother-in-law with great care, looked to see what was the matter, and found to her horror and dismay that the cap was gone from its stand. Good gracious! what had become of it? She had plaited it up that very morning, and hung it on the stand. — "Where's my cap?" the old woman at last enquired. — "Never mind, mother," said her daughter-in-law bending towards her, "I'll get it directly." — "Is it done up yet?" — The young woman nodded, and thought, surely grandmother will be satisfied now, but the old woman glanced into every corner of the room to see what she could find out. Bräsig's countenance changed when he heard the cap spoken of, and he looked about him hastily to see where the "beastly thing" could have got to, but in another moment old Mrs. Nüssler pointed at little Louisa Hawermann, and said with a venomous smile, like a stale roll dipped in fly-poison: "It must be plaited all over again." — "What's the matter?" cried her daughter-in-law, and starting up as she spoke, she saw the ends of the cap ribbons hanging down below the hem of the child's frock; she lifted her niece off the chair, and was going to have picked up the cap, but the old woman was too quick for her. She seized her crumpled head-gear, and when she saw the flattened puffs, and Bräsig's bit of pack-thread hanging half in and half out of the caser, her wrath boiled over, and holding up her cap so that everyone might see it, exclaimed: "Good for nothing chit!" and was going to have struck the little girl over the head with her cap.

But Bräsig caught her by the arm and said: "The child had nothing to do with it," and then growled out in a half whisper: "the old cat!" At the same moment loud crying was to be heard behind the grandmother's chair, and Mina sobbed: "I'll never, never do it again," and Lina sobbed: "And I'll never do it again." — "Bless me!" cried young Mrs. Nüssler, "it was the little girls who did all the mischief. — Mother, it was our own children that did it." — But the old woman had been too long accustomed to turn everything to her own advantage, not to know how to make a judicious use of her deafness; she never heard what she did not want to hear; and she did not want to hear now. "Come," she shouted, and signed to her husband. — "Mother, mother," cried her daughter-in-law, "give me your cap, and I'll set it to rights." — "Who's at the fold?" asked the old woman as she left the room with old Joseph. — Young Joseph lighted his pipe again. — "Good gracious!" said Mrs. Nüssler, "she's quite right there, I ought to be at the fold. Ah well, grandmother won't be civil to me again for a month." — "Crusty," said Bräsig, "was an old dog, and Crusty had to give in at last." — "Don't cry any more, my pets," said the mother, wiping her little girl's eyes. "You didn't know what harm you were doing, you are such stupid little things. Now be good children, and go and play with your cousin, I must go to my work. Joseph, just keep an eye on the children, please," and then Mrs. Nüssler put on her chip-hat, and set off to the fold where the cows were milked.

"A mother-in-law's the very devil!" said Bräsig. "But you, young Joseph," he continued, turning to Mr. Nüssler, who was smoking as calmly as if what had happened was nothing to him, "ought to be ashamed of yourself for allowing your mother to bully your wife." — "But," said young Joseph, "how can I interfere? I am her son." — "You needn't actually strike her," said Bräsig, "because your parents are given you by God, but you might give her a little filial advice now and then, such as befits an obedient son, and so prevent the devil of dispeace getting into the house. — And as for you, Charles Hawermann, don't take a little tiff like this to heart, for your sister has a cheerful disposition, and an affectionate nature, so 102she'll soon be on good terms with the old skin-flints again, and they can't get on without her, she's the mainstay of the household. — But now," and he pulled an enormous watch out of his pocket, the kind of watch that is called a warming-pan, "it's seven o'clock, and I must go and look after my work-people." — "Wait," said Hawermann, "I'll go part of the way with you. Good-bye for the present, Joseph." — "Good-bye, brother-in-law," said young Joseph from his corner.

As soon as they were out of doors Hawermann asked: "I say, Bräsig, how could you speak of the old people in such a way before their son?" — "He's quite accustomed to it, Charles. No one has a good word for the two old misers, they've quarrelled with all the neighbours, and as for the servants, they take very good care to keep out of the old wretches' sight." — "My poor sister!" sighed Hawermann, "She used to be such a merry light-hearted girl, and now, shut up in a house with such people, and such a Nuss (slow) of a man." — "You're right enough there, Charles, he is an old Nuss, and Nüssler (slow-coach) is his name; but he never bullies your sister, and although he is such an ass that he can manage nothing himself, he has sense enough to see that your sister is quite able to keep everything straight." — "Poor girl! — She married that man for my sake, to make my way easier for me, she said; and for our old mother's sake, to give her a comfortable home with one of her children in her latter days." — "I know, I know, Charles. — I know it from my own experience. Don't you remember it was during the rye-harvest, and you said to me, Zachariah, you said, you must be in love, for you're leading in your rye quite wet. And I said; how so? On the Sunday before that we had had spruce-beer, and your sister was one of the party, or else I shouldn't have led in the rye in such weather. And then I told you that if I didn't change my mind your sister was the only one of my three sweethearts that I'd marry. — Then you laughed heartily, and said, she was too young. — What has being young to do with it? I asked. — And then you said that my other two sweethearts came first, and so they ought to have the preference. And then you laughed again, and didn't seem to believe that I was in earnest. A short time afterwards my lord the Count changed his mind, and said he wouldn't have a married bailiff. And then a little more time passed, and it was too late. Young Joseph made her an offer, and your mother begged her so hard to take him, that she consented. — Ah well, that marriage ought never to have been," and Bräsig looked down gravely. After a moment's silence he went on — "When I saw the twins I felt drawn to them, and thought that they might have been my own, and I almost wished that the old woman, old Joseph, and young Joseph were in their graves. — It was indeed a happy day for the old Jesuits when your sister brought her loving heart and cheerful nature into thier house, if it had been any one else there would have been murder done long ago."

While they were talking they had left the village behind them, and were now beside the large garden. Suddenly Hawermann exclaimed: "Look there, the two old people are on the top of the hill yonder." — "Yes," said Bräsig with a derisive chuckle, "there they are, the hypocritical old Jesuits, standing in their hiding-place." — "Hiding-place?" asked Hawermann, astonished. "Up there on the hill?"— "Even so, Charles, the old creatures can trust no one, not even their own children, and when they want to say anything to each other that they can't explain by their usual signs, they always go to the very top of the hill where they can see that there are no eavesdroppers, and shout their secrets in one another's ears. Look at them cackling away, the old woman has laid another dragon's egg, and now they're both going to hatch it." — "How eagerly they're talking," said Hawermann. "Do you see how the old woman is gesticulating? What can it all be about?" — "I know what they are laying down the law about, for I know them well. — And Charles," he continued after a short silence, "it is better that you should understand the whole state of the case at once, and then you'll know how to act. They're talking about you, and your little girl." — "About me, and my little girl!" repeated Hawermann in astonishment. — "Yes, Charles — don't you see. If you had come with a great purse full of money, they would have received you with open arms, for money is the only thing for which they have the slightest respect; but as it is they regard you and the child in the light of beggarly poor relations who will take the very bread out of the mouth of their unfortunate son." — "Oh!" sighed Hawermann, "why didn't I leave the child with the Rassows? — Who is to take care of her? — Can you advise me what to do? — I can't leave her here in my sister's charge for my sister's sake." — "Of course you'd like to have her near you. Well, Charles, I'll tell you something. You must remain at the Nüsslers to-night. To-morrow we'll go and see the Counsellor at Pümpelhagen: if we succeed there we'll look out for a good place for the child in the neighbourhood; and if we don't succeed, we'll go to the town and board her for the present with Kurz, the shopkeeper. And now good-night, Charles! Don't be down-hearted, everything will look brighter soon." — And so he went away.

"Ah, if everybody was only like you," thought Hawermann as he was returning to his sister's house, "I should soon get the better of my difficulties. — And get the better of them I must and shall," he continued with a look of determination, his courage rising and dispelling his sadness, in like manner as the sun disperses the rain-clouds, "my sister shall not be made unhappy through me. I will work hard for my little girl." . . . . . . . .

Later in the evening, when the milk had been poured into the pans in the dairy, Hawermann and his sister went out into the garden together, and she talked to him about his affairs, and he to her about hers. "Don't be so sorry for me, Charles," she said, "I am quite used to my life. It's true that the old people are hard and disagreeable, but though they sometimes sulk with me for weeks at a time, I soon forget their crossness when I'm out of their sight, and as for Joseph, I must say this for him, he is never unkind, and has never said a hard word to me. If he were only a little more quick-sighted, and a better manager; but that's not to be expected of him. I've plenty to do with the house and dairy without having the farm on my hands too, and a woman can't manage that sort of thing properly, indeed Bräsig is the greatest possible help to me in that respect. He goes over the fields and sees what's being done about the place, and takes care that Joseph do'sn't get behindhand with the work." — "How are you getting on upon the whole? Does the farming pay well?" asked her brother. — "Not as well as it might. There isn't enough spent on the land, and the old people won't let us change the rotation of the crops, or try any new ways of farming. — We've always made the two ends meet as yet, and had the rent ready on the term-day; but now Joseph's two elder sisters, who are married to Kurz, the general merchant, and to Baldrian, the rector of the academy, are always dinning into the old people's and our ears that they want their dowries paid. The rector doesn't actually require it, but he is fond of money; Kurz would really be the better of his, for he is in trade, and of course wishes to extend his business. Now the old people want to make over nearly everything to Joseph at their death, and they won't part with a single farthing of what is in their possession just now, indeed grandmother has a hateful rhyme that she always repeats when she hears of a case of this kind:

      "Wer seinen Kindern gibt das Brot
      Und leidet endlich selber Not,
      Den schlag man mit der Keule tot."

But it's wrong, very wrong of them, and they can't expect a blessing on it, for one child is as good as another, and so I told the old people at the very beginning. My goodness, what a rage they were in! They had made all the money, and what had I brought to my husband they'd like to know? I ought to go down on my knees, and thank God that they were going to make a rich man of Joseph. — But I had a good talk with Joseph, and now he has paid over nearly two hundred and twenty-five pounds to Kurz in instalments. His mother soon had an inkling as to what we were about, and was very curious to know all
the ins and outs of the affair, but as Joseph isn't a good manager and can't do accounts well, I take care of the purse, and never give her the chance of peeping into it. No, no, grandmother, I'm not quite so stupid as that comes to! — That's the chief bone of contention between the old people and myself. They still want to keep Joseph under their thumb; but Joseph is nearly forty years old, and if he won't rule himself, I will rule him, for I am his wife and therefore the 'nearest' to him, as our parson's wife would say. Now, Charles, tell me, am I right or wrong?" — "You are quite right, Dorothea," said Hawermann. — Then they wished each other "good-night," and went to bed.
Reuter, Fritz (1810-1874) Mecklenburger, Dichter und Schriftsteller der niederdeutschen Sprache

Reuter, Fritz (1810-1874) Mecklenburger, Dichter und Schriftsteller der niederdeutschen Sprache

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