CHAPTER IV. - Wheat was again growing in the field by the mill, as when Hawermann came to Pümpelhagen eleven years before.

Wheat was again growing in the field by the mill, as when Hawermann came to Pümpelhagen eleven years before. Hawermann was on his way back from church, for it was Sunday, and he had that morning listened to Mr. Behrens' sermon and visited his little daughter. He was on foot, for the church was but a short distance from home, and the weather was as beautiful as midsummer could make it. As he went through the wheat-field his heart was full of joy at the thought of the visible blessing God had bestowed on that which had been sown in hope, and in ignorance of what the future might bring forth. He himself profited nothing by the blessing of the rich harvest, it all belonged to his master, but he had the pleasure of seeing it, and the sight made his heart overflow with joy and thankfulness. He whistled a merry air and then smiled at himself when he found what he was doing, for he very seldom felt inclined to show any outward signs of rejoicing. "Well, he said to himself, "I've gone my rounds here for eleven years now, and the worst is over. Let me go round once more, and other eyes shall see it." — He turned into the path leading through the garden, which lay on high ground to one side of a small plantation of oaks and beeches. The foot-path was well swept and weeded, for the Squire and his family were expected that afternoon. When Hawermann got to the edge of the wood, he turned round and looked back at the wheat-field, saying to himself with a smile: "Yes, it's a much heavier crop now than it was eleven years ago; but I must be just; the weather has been far better for farming this year than it was then. I wonder what the old gentleman will say to it. — There's still a good long time to pass before the harvest though, but we've got the rape as good as safe, that's one thing. I only hope and trust that it isn't sold already," and he sighed. Then thinking over the events of the past eleven years: "The old gentleman isn't a bit richer than he was when I came. Indeed, how could he, with five daughters and two sons-in-law to drain his purse, to say nothing of my lady, who seems to think that because money is round, it may be set rolling with impunity. And then the son, what a lot of money it takes to keep him in a Prussian cavalry regiment! — Yes, the times are better, far better than when I had my farm; but when a man once gets into difficulties it's hard work getting straight again, and he has grown so much older looking in the last year or two." — Hawermann was in no particular hurry to get home, as dinner was put off until Mr. von Rambow came, not that the Squire had given orders to that effect, but it was an understood thing: "Yes," he thought, as he seated himself in the shade, "he will be glad to see that the wheat is good, for it will help him on, and he is in need of money. Fortunately the times are better."

The times were really better, and for farmers the times may be likened to a long, long cord stretching over England and America and the whole earth, and uniting the different countries to each other. When this cord gets slack and entangled, things go ill with the farmers and the whole land, but when it is firm and steady again there is great rejoicing in every heart. The cord was drawn much tighter now in our little corner of the world, and young Joseph had turned his old clay-pipe, his leaden snuff-box, the blue painted cupboard, and the polished sofa out of the house, and the old yellow carriage was no longer in the coach-house; instead of these he had now a silver-mounted meerschaum, and a "m'og'ny secletair," and a magnificent ottoman, and there was a new carriage in the coach-house, which Bräsig always called a "phantom," and he wasn't far wrong, for it was like a dream to see such a carriage there. And the same cord passing from the Count to Bräsig gave the latter, after his five and twenty years service, written permission to marry as soon as he liked, and the promise, also written, of a comfortable pension for his old age." When the cord was slack it had twisted itself all round little Mrs. Behrens, in like manner as boys tie up a cock-chafer, and when it was tightened she went to her pastor, and continually buzzed in his ear that he ought to get double the rent for his glebe lands now, to what he had done before. And when Moses, at the end of the preceding year, added up his sum total, and wrote under the long column of figures, a little one, and a five and two large noughts: "Take away the book, David," he said, "the balance is quite right."

But this cord, however straight and tight it may be drawn, is influenced by human action, though God takes care that the slackening and tightening are done properly, so that mankind is not either destroyed or allowed to tumble aimlessly about like peas in a bag that is violently shaken, but the individual has as little power over the cord as a cock-chafer has on the thread, to which it is tied when children play with it; like it, he can only buzz about within the space allowed him. There is yet another cord which rules the world, and it comes down from heaven, and God himself holds the end of it; this cord was pulled a little tighter, and Zachariah Bräsig had gout, and it was pulled a little tighter still, and the two old Nüsslers lay upon their last bed; a little bit was broken off the end of it, and they were laid in the grave.

Zachariah Bräsig was very cross when he found he had gout, and in his ignorance declared that it was the new fashion of wearing brightly polished boots, and the cold damp spring they had been having which had given him gout, whereas he ought to have set it down to good eating and to his daily little glass of kümmel. He was as troublesome as a gad-fly, and whenever Hawermann went to see him when the pain was bad, he used to find him studying the papers the Count had given him relating to marriage and a pension, and then he was always as cross as two sticks. "Don't you see," he would say, "what a horrible position the Count's paper puts me in. If I marry, my lord, the Count, will say that I am too young for the pension, and if I ask for the pension, I acknowledge by so doing that I am too old to marry. Oh yes, the Count's not much better than a Jesuit. He speaks me fair, and gets the better of me. He writes down all sorts of scoundrelly padagraphs on a bit of paper which prevent a man, who for the last eight-and-twenty years has worn himself out in his service, enjoying his pension without blame; a man who was engaged to three women twenty years ago, and who, now that he is fifty cannot marry even one woman. — Oh, I laugh at my lord's padagraphs!"

One man's meat is another man's poison! Bräsig was angry because the cord had been pulled, but in young Joseph's home it had brought about a pleasant change. In the old days, Mrs. Nüssler had tried in vain to bring peace into the house, now it reigned there, and ruled the actions of the whole family. Mrs. Nüssler was careful to keep it there now that it had come; and the twins showed its gentle influence in their ways and thoughts, and young Joseph also felt the change and tried to do his duty as head of the family. It is true that he spoke as little as ever, and still disliked smoking any tobacco except twist, and it is true that he had not even yet grown out of tutelage, for after his parents' death Hawermann and Bräsig had undertaken the guardianship of all out-door affairs, had arranged about the work, had seen that the farm was properly stocked, and had got everything in order. As the old people had forgotten to take away with them the money they had hidden under pillows, in old stockings, and in odd comers, it was easy to make everything go on smoothly and well, and when at last the whole place was in good order, young Joseph said: "What am I to do now?" and left everything to go its own way. But the comfort and peace in which he now lived had made him much more cheerful, and his kindness of heart, which had never been allowed free play by his parents, was patent to all, and if it sometimes made him do foolish things, it mattered no more than did the schoolmaster's appearing at a funeral in a red waistcoat, for, as he said in excuse: "What does it signify, Reverend Sir, when one's heart is black?"

And what changes had time made at the Parsonage? The cord had been very little pulled there. When Mr. Behrens felt a light touch on his arm when he was busy writing his sermon, and looked round to see what it was, it was only his little wife standing beside him, duster in hand, and while she gave his chair an extra rub, she asked him whether he would like the perch to be fried or boiled, and if he had just got in his sermon to S. Peter's draught of fishes, or to the great fish-dinner mentioned in the Gospel, so many tiresome unchristian thoughts of fried fish served with horseradish and butter would disturb him, that he had hard work to keep his sermon and clerical dignity uninjured. — Once, a long time ago, I got a beautiful lily-root from my friend Jülke, the great gardener in Erfurt. Its leaves began to show in March, and the first thing I did every morning, was to go and see how much the leaves had grown during the night, and I watched it carefully to see when the flower-bud began to form. Long before there was any sign of the flower, when only green leaves were to be seen, I used to carry it from the cold window to the warm stove, and again from the dusty stove to the bright sunny window. And as with the plant, so with human life, there is to me great delight in watching and tending it as it grows. — The parson had also received a lily-root from the great Gardener, the Lord God of Heaven, and he and his little wife had loved it, and tended it, and now the flower was there — a human flower, which grew in the warm sun-light of loving hearts, and Mrs. Behrens went to look at her the first thing in the morning, buzzed round her at mid-day, rejoiced in her healthy appetite, and put another spoonful on her plate, for she said: food is necessary to life. In the evening under the lime-tree before the door, she drew the same shawl round herself and the little girl, that she might know the child was warm, and when it was time to go to bed she gave her a good-night kiss: "God bless you my darling, I’ll call you to-morrow early, at five o'clock."

And the parson's first act was to go to her; he watched the tender green leaves opening, propped his lily carefully, and taught her how to grow straight and true, and when she had gone to bed, he said with the implicit faith of a little child: "Regina, our lily will soon blossom now."

So it came about without the dear old clergyman or his wife noticing it, and without the child noticing it, that she had grown to be the most important personage in the family. When she went dancing about the house in her simple frock, her little silk handkerchief round her neck, her cheeks rosy with health, and her hair hanging down her back unconfined by ribbon or comb, the whole household rejoiced in her happiness. When she sat quietly beside her foster-father learning her lessons, and looking up at him with her great eyes while he taught her something new and interesting, and then at last closed her books with a deep sigh, as though she were sorry that lessons were over for the day, and yet glad, for she had been hard at work for some time, and could not have properly understood anything more, Mrs. Behrens would leave her slippers at the door, and go about dusting the furniture in her stockings. She was afraid of disturbing the lessons: "For," she said, "teaching children is quite different from writing sermons, and if it's a deadly sin to speak to old people when they're busy, a child's mind — good gracious, the waving of a tulip-stalk would be enough to distract its attention!"

Hawermann's little daughter was always pretty, but she never looked so pretty as when running to meet her father, she took him by the hand and led him to the great lime-tree under which the good clergyman and his wife were sitting, and if Hawermann sometimes looked sad at the thought of how little he could do for his own child, there was a whole heaven of joy in her eyes because he was there, and she seemed to feel she could best repay the love and kindness her foster-parents showed her, through her love and gratitude to her father. She had just entered her thirteenth year, and as yet hardly understood the feelings and impulses of her own heart. She had never asked herself why her father was dear to her. With Mr. and Mrs. Behrens it was different. She had daily signs of their affection, and daily opportunities of doing little loving services for them in return. While with him — she only knew he was her father, and that he often said things to her that must have come from his heart, and often looked at her with a quiet sadness that could not fail to go to hers. If she had made out a debtor and creditor account, the clergyman and his wife deserved more at her hands, but still ! The Lord our God has so joined people together by the ties of nature that they cannot be divided.

This day had been a happy one for both Hawermann and his child, and now he was sitting in the shady arbour overlooking the fields he had tilled and the neighbouring country. Spring was gone, and the summer sun was shining warmly and brightly through white fleecy clouds, a soft breeze slightly cooled the air, and the green ears of corn were waving in the sunshine as though the earth were fluttering her green silken banner in honour of her sovereign lady the sun. Her regimental music sung by thousands of birds was hushed now that the spring was gone, and only the cuckoo and corn-crake were to be heard; and instead of the songs that but a few weeks ago had sounded in every thicket, the wind came up over the fields laden with sweet odours, for the hay-harvest had begun. How pleasant it is to see a long stretch of country lying before one, divided into stripes of green and yellow, here and there interspersed with wooded hills; to see old earth decked out in the brilliant garments which the seasons have woven for her. But still life in such a place is not without its anxieties, and people are fearful lest by any misfortune they should not reap as abundant a harvest as they ought, from their little bits of land, and even these long lines of colour, and the hills and trees, seem in their eyes poor and barren. — I am quite aware that it is not so in reality, but they think so at the time. — With us it is quite different, our fields stretch out in one kind of corn as far as the woods, the rape-fields resembling a great sea in the golden sunlight. Large meadows and paddocks are to be seen full of cattle, and immense hay-fields in which long rows of mowers are at work in their white shirt-sleeves. Everything is for the best and works for a good end, and wherever the eye frills there is peace and fruitfulness. — I know quite well that it is not the case, but one thinks so at the time. — It all depends upon the way we look at a thing. One man sees nothing but riches and peace, while another slips away into the shade and lets the humming of the bees, and the soft fluttering of the butterflies around him sink into his heart. — Hawermann was filled with quiet thankfulness as gazing on this scene he went over again, in thought, the events of the past eleven years. Everything had gone well with him during that time, he had paid both Bräsig and Moses what he owed them, and he was on good terms with his employer. Indeed Mr. von Rambow had become almost confidential with him, for although he was not accustomed to talk over his private affairs with anyone, he had always found Hawermann so respectful, trustworthy and zealous in his service, that he had gradually got into the habit of consulting him about things that had more to do with himself individually than with the management of the estate. As yet however he had never spoken to him about his family worries, but now he was going to do so.

When Hawermann had been sitting in the arbour for a short time, he heard a couple of carriages drive up to the door. "Here they are already," he exclaimed, springing to his feet, and going towards the house to receive the squire and his family.

Mr. von Rambow, with his wife, his three daughters and his son, had come to spend six weeks or so at Pümpelhagen to enjoy a little country-air. "Well, Mr. Hawermann," he said, "I fear that we have come upon you sooner than you expected, but I got my business in Rostock finished much more quickly than I had thought possible. — How is all going on? — Is everything ready for the ladies?" — "Quite ready," said Hawermann, "but I'm afraid that you'll have to wait a little before dinner can be served." — "All the better," he answered. "The ladies will have time to dress, and you can show me the wheat-field. — Alick," turning to his son, a handsome young man in uniform, "you can afterwards take your mother and sisters for a turn in the garden, for," with an effort to smile, "you take no interest in agriculture." — "Dear father, I " the son began, but his father interrupted him, saying kindly: "Never mind, my boy. — Now, Mr. Hawermann, come and show me the wheat. It's in the field just below the garden, I think."

They walked away together. What a terrible change had taken place in Mr. von Rambow's appearance, he had grown so old, and it was not only the hand of time that had aged him, he seemed to have some anxiety which was wearing him out. — At the sight of his wheat-field he cheered up, and said: "What a splendid crop! I don't remember ever having seen such wheat at Pümpelhagen before." — Hawermann was much pleased, but like all of his class he did his best to hide it, and because his heart laughed within him, he just scratched his head, and said they must wait and see what sort of weather they had at the time of harvest, and that there was generally a frightful quantity of rust down there at the edge of the meadow. — "Anything that may happen to it now will be by no fault of ours," said Mr. von Rambow, "I am very much pleased with the look of this field. — Ah," he went on after a short pause, "why didn't we know each other twenty years ago, it would have been better for us both." — Hawermann became grave and sympathetic at once when he found his master was in trouble. — They had now reached the place where the Gürlitz estate marched with Pümpelhagen. — "That wheat doesn't look as well as ours," said the squire. — "Well," replied Hawermann, "the soil is every bit as good as ours, but it hasn't been well treated, it is the Gürlitz glebe." — "A propos," interrupted Mr. von Rambow, "do you know that Gürlitz is sold? It was sold a few days ago in Rostock for twenty-five thousand nine hundred and fifty pounds. Prices are rising, are they not, Hawermann? If Gürlitz is worth twenty-five thousand nine hundred and fifty pounds, Pümpelhagen would be cheap at thirty-six thousand," and he looked sharply at Hawermann as he spoke. — "Yes, Sir, it would," replied Hawermann. "But the sale of Gürlitz may bring you good luck in another way. You see it was arranged that the sale of the estate should break the lease of the glebe lands which belong to it, and as these lands march with your wheat-field, the best thing that you can do is to take a lease of them yourself." — "My dear Hawermann! I take the lease!" cried the squire, and then he turned away sadly, as if he could not bear to look at it any longer. “I have enough on my shoulders already," he added, "without undertaking anything new." — "You shall have no trouble whatever about it, only give me power to act for you, and I will arrange everything with Mr. Behrens." — "No, no, Hawermann, it's impossible. The expense, the payment of rent in advance, the large amount of stock required. I can't do it. I have so many calls on my purse as it is, that I hardly know where to turn." — Mr. von Rambow went back up the hill with so much difficulty, and stumbled so often over the stones on the road, that Hawermann sprang to him and offered him his arm. Just as they reached the garden the old man became so giddy that the bailiff took him into the arbour, and made him sit down and rest. — The squire soon recovered when brought out of the hot sun, but Hawermann looking at him could hardly imagine him to be the same man who had taken him into his service eleven years ago. At last he began to speak again, and it seemed a relief to him to unburden his mind. — "Dear Hawermann," he said, "I want you to do something for me. My brother's son, Frank — you used to know him — has left school, and will soon be of age, when he will have to take the management of his estate into his own hands. I am his guardian by my late brother's will, and have advised him to learn farming practically, and as he has agreed to do so, I have chosen you to be his teacher. You will find him an intelligent, good-hearted young fellow." — Hawermann answered that he would do his best, he had known the lad when he was quite a child, and had liked him. — "Ah!" sighed Mr. von Rambow, “why couldn't my own boy have done the same? Why was I weak enough to give way to my wife's entreaties against my better judgment? Nothing would satisfy her but he must go into the army. — And now it has come to this, he is deeply in debt, and I know he has not told me all, I see it in his manner. If he would only confess I should know where we stand, and I might be able to set him free from the money-lenders. — And what if I also were to fall into their hands," he concluded in a low, broken voice. — Hawermann was even more frightened by the expression of his master's face than by his words, and he answered with emotion: "It won't be so bad as that comes to, and then. Sir, you must remember that you have still to be paid for the fifteen hundred bushels of rape, and I'm certain there's all that."— "Ah," said Mr. von Rambow, "and I have already been paid for seventeen hundred bushels, and the money is all spent; but that isn't the worst of it. If that were all I shouldn't be so troubled," he exclaimed, as though he must speak and so lighten the burden of his anxiety. "The business I had to do at Rostock isn't settled yet, though I told you it was. I only said that for the sake of my family. I have undertaken to pay a debt of a thousand and fifty pounds for one of my sons-in-law, and I find that I cannot raise so large a sum in Rostock, though I had hoped to do so, and yet the money must be in the hands of the man who has just bought Gürlitz in three days' time. — Can you advise me what to do, old friend? You were once in the same position as I am now, and you succeeded in freeing yourself; don't be angry with me for referring to it. You are and have always been an honest man, and can understand how miserable it makes me not to know how to keep my honest name unstained." — Hawermann understood him perfectly, he had once been in the same distress for want of thirty pounds, as the squire was now for a thousand. "Have you spoken to the purchaser of Gürlitz?" he asked, after a long pause of deliberation. — "Yes," was the reply, "I told him frankly that I should find it difficult to pay so large a sum at once." — "And what was his answer?" said Hawermann, "perhaps that he was in want of it himself?" — "No, I don't think that was it, but I didn't like his looks at all, his manner was sly and smooth, and when I told him of my difficulty his proposals were so cunningly made to entangle me, that I at once broke off all negociations, and determined to do my utmost to raise the money in proper time. But I have failed as you know, and don't know where to turn, or what to do." — "I only know of one remedy," said Hawermann, "and that is to go to old Moses in Rahnstädt." — "To a Jew?" asked the squire. "No," he exclaimed, "Til never do that. — I couldn't bear to fall into a usurer's hands. — No, rather than do that, I'd bear Mr. Pomuchelskopp's impertinence." — "Whose did you say?" cried Hawermann, starting as if a wasp had stung him. — "Why the new purchaser of Gürlitz of whom we have just been talking," said Mr. von Rambow, looking at his bailiff in astonishment. "He is a Pomeranian, and comes from a place nearer the river Peen; he is short and stout, and has a fat face." — "Yes," said Hawermann. "And so it is he who is going to be our neighbour here. It is he with whom you are going to have money-transactions. — No, no, Mr. von Rambow, I beg, I entreat you to have nothing to do with that man. — You can bear me witness that I have never said anything good or bad of the man who ruined me, but now that you are in danger, it becomes my duty to speak; that man was the cause of all my misfortunes," and springing to his feet he went on excitedly, his face as he spoke losing its usual calm expression, and an angry sparkle coming into his eyes. "Yes, that is the man who drove me out of house and home, who heaped one misery after another on me and my poor wife, so that she at last broke down and died.— Oh, Sir, whatever you do, beware of that man!" — The warning was too emphatic to be passed over unheeded. — "But who can I get to help me?" he enquired. — "Moses," answered Hawermann, firmly and decidedly. The squire made a gesture of dissent, but Hawermann came a little nearer him, and went on still more emphatically than before: "Mr. von Rambow, Moses will help you, we will go to him after dinner, and I assure you on my own knowledge of the man that you will never repent going to him."

The squire rose and took Hawermann's arm. He found in him a support both physical and moral, for when a calm, even-tempered man loses his ordinary serene composure, he exerts a greater influence over others than people of a more impulsive nature ever can.

The conversation during dinner was slight and subject to long pauses. Each was busy with his own thoughts. Hawermann thought of his new and formidable neighbours, the squire of the money he wanted to raise, and the young lieutenant seemed as if he had lost himself in a long sum in addition which he could not manage to add up rightly, so that if my lady had not ridden her high horse a little, and spoken of the calls she intended to make on the grand people in the neighbourhood, and if the three girls had not chattered about the pleasures of a country-life, and about all the pretty things they had seen during their drive, it would have been a regular quaker's meeting.

After dinner Mr. von Rambow and his bailiff drove to Rahnstädt. The squire felt as he entered the door of Moses' house as if he were going to pick a guinea out of the mud with his hitherto clean hands. On the threshold he was greeted with a stuffy smell of tarry wool that had just left the back of the sheep on which it had grown, and which is a very different article from the same wool when it is woven into a carpet for a lady's boudoir. The entrance-hall and business-room were very untidy, for though Flora was a good woman she never could manage to keep the skins out of sight, for Moses said shortly that they were part of the trade, and David was continually adding new items to the list of things lying about, so that finally the house became a very paradise for rats, for these delightful little creatures take as kindly to the fusty smell of a woolstapler's shop, as doves to oil of aniseed.

Mr. von Rambow did not feel more comfortable when he was in the business-room, for Moses was old-fashioned, and when business permitted always wore his worst coat on the Christian Sabbath, holding it an. article of faith to make himself look as different as possible from Christians in their holiday-attire. When he came forward hastily to receive the squire, exclaiming: "Mr. von Rambow! — I am highly honoured!" and then turning to his son who was spending his Sunday-leisure from "wool-stapling" in the enjoyment of lying at full length on the sofa: "Why don't you move, David? Why are you lying there? Get up and let Mr. von Rambow sit down." And when he led the squire to the sofa, and signed to him to sit down in the place David had just quitted, poor Mr. von Rambow would willingly have left the guineas lying in the dirt — if only he had not been in such desperate need of them.

Hawermann at once set a chair for his master near the open window, and then began to explain the business that had brought them to Rahnstädt. As soon as Moses found what they had come for he sent David out of the room, for although he let his son manage the wool-stapling part of his trade as he liked, he did not consider him capable at five and twenty years old of taking even a subordinate place in the moneylending department. The moment the coast was clear — of David — he said again that it was a great honour
to do business with Mr. von Rambow. "What have I always told you, Mr. Hawermann? Didn't I always say that Mr. von Rambow was a good man, a very good man. — And, Mr. von Rambow, what have I always said? — That Mr. Hawermann was an honest man, he worked and saved, and has paid me everything he owed me to the uttermost farthing."— But when he understood how large a sum was wanted he rather drew back, and wished to have nothing to do with it, and if he had not seen that Hawermann earnestly desired that he should undertake the business, he would have refused point blank. And who knows whether he would not have refused to have anything to do with the affair even then, if he had not heard that the money was wanted to complete the purchase of Gürlitz, and that failing his help the squire would have to come to an arrangement with Mr. Pomuchelskopp. When he heard that name Moses made a face of as much disgust, as if some one had offered him a bit of unclean meat on a plate, and then exclaimed: "With Pomüffelskopp!" that was the way he always pronounced the name. "Do you know what sort of man he is?" and as he spoke, he made a movement as though he were throwing a piece of unclean meat over his shoulder. "I advised my son David to have nothing to do with Pomüffelskopp — but young people! — David bought some wool from him. Very well, I said, you will see, I said. And what did we discover? He had mixed the lumpy wool of sheep that had died of disease with what was clean and good, and also the dirty skins of wethers that had been slaughtered by the butcher, to say nothing of two large stones that he: had put in the centre. Two large stones! — Good, I said. I paid him in Prussian paper-money, making up the sum in small parcels containing about fifteen pounds each, and amongst them I slipped in a few notes that were either false, or which had passed out of currency, and lastly I added two old lottery-tickets — these are the two large stones, I said. — Oh, didn't he make noise enough about it? He came back with Slus'uhr the attorney — a man of like nature with himself —" with that he made as though he were throwing another bit of unclean meat over his shoulder. — "He looks for all the world like one of David's rats, his ears are put on his head in the same way — he must needs live, so he lives like the rats on refuse and garbage, and gnaws through the honest work of other people. — There was noise enough in all conscience now that the two were together. They said they'd go to law. What's the good of a law-suit? I asked. The wool and the money are on a par. — And do you know, gentlemen, I said something more. I said that though the attorney, Mr. Pömüffelskopp, and I are only three Jews, still we might be counted as four, for the two former were quite equal to three in their own person. — Oh dear, what a noise they made, they abused me to every one, but his worship the mayor said to me, Moses, he said, you do a large business, but have never yet gone to law with any one, leave them to do their worst. — — Mr. von Rambow, you shall have the money this very day at a reasonable percentage, for as you are a good man and deal kindly with your dependents, and have a good name in the country-side, you shall have nothing to do with that Pömüffelskopp."

Borrowing money is disagreeable work, and he who writes this book knows that it is so from his own experience, still there is a great difference between borrowing from a kind-hearted old friend, and applying to a man whose business it is to lend money, — The squire had a good many small debts on his estate, but there were no large mortgages on it, whenever he had wanted money before he had been able to get it from his lawyer, or from a tradesman, and this was the first time his old resources had failed him, and that he had been obliged to go to a Jewish moneylender. He had an intense dislike to the business he was about; the fear caused by the unwillingness Moses had at first shown to lend him the money, and then the sudden relief when he found he was to have it after all overpowered him so much, that he sank back in his chair pale and trembling. Hawermann asked for some water for him. — "Perhaps, Mr. von Rambow," asked Moses, "you'd like a mouthful of wine better." — "No, water, water," cried Hawermann, and Moses rushed to the door, and nearly knocked David down when he opened it, for David had been listening at the key-hole. "David," he exclaimed, "what are you standing there for? Why don't you go for some water?"

David brought the water, and the squire felt better as soon as he had drunk it. Moses counted the gold out on the table, and the squire, after picking them up, looked at his hands, and saw that they appeared every whit as white and clean as before. And after he was once more seated in the carriage, it seemed to him as he looked back at the money-lender's house, as if he had left the heavy load of care he had brought with him amongst the wool and sheep-skins in the warehouse. And Moses stood in the door-way and bowed, and bowed, and glanced from side to side to see whether his neighbours had observed that Mr. von Rambow was there. — Still he was not so much overwhelmed with the honour done him, as to be unable to look after his own affairs, he bent down his head, and drawing Hawermann aside, whispered: "You are an honest man, bailiff. When I concluded this piece of business I didn't notice how ill the squire was. You must promise me that the money will be paid off by the estate. — It is a question of life and death. — What have I to do with a sick man and a bond?"

Now that the squire's mind was at rest about his money-difficulties his health improved rapidly, and he began to look at everything in a more cheerful light, and when a few days later Hawermann again proposed that Mr. von Rambow should take a lease of the Gürlitz glebe, he consented at once, and gave Hawermann permission to make all the necessary arrangements with Mr. Behrens. Little Mrs. Behrens fluttered round her husband and Hawermann while they talked, and said that "the rent ought to be higher than before." — "Yes," answered Hawermann, "of course it ought. The rent must be raised, for the times are better than they were, but that matter will be easily settled, for it will be an advantageous arrangement for both sides." — "Regina," said the pastor, "it has just occurred to me that the flowers have never been watered this morning." — "Goodness gracious me," cried Mrs. Behrens as she hastened from the room, "I quite, forgot the flowers." — "We'll get on quicker now," said the pastor. "I confess that I'd rather have an outsider for a tenant than the lord of the manor, for when the latter has the glebe-lands there are often little disagreeables and disputes that ought never to be between the parish-priest and his squire. Besides that, merely as a matter of personal feeling Td far rather have Mr. von Rambow for a tenant than the new lord of the manor; you see I have known him for many years. — So you really think I ought to get a higher rent?" — "Most certainly, Sir, and I am commissioned to offer you half as much again as you used to get. If I myself were going to take a lease of it from you, I should offer you more, but . . . . . . " — "We understand each other, dear Hawermann," interrupted Mr. Behrens. "I agree to your terms." — So when Mrs. Behrens returned with little Louisa to say: "I needn't have gone after all, Louisa had done it for me," the business was all arranged. The child threw her arms round her father's neck, exclaiming: "Oh father, father, what a good plan it is!" — Why did she kiss her father, and what did it matter to her who got the lease of the glebe? — Well, well, if her father had the land he would have to look after it, and so she hoped to see him oftener.

When Hawermann was walking down the path leading to the church he met Zachariah Bräsig coming towards him. Bräsig had quite recovered from the unphilosophical state of mind into which a fit of gout always threw him, and now that the pain was over could take things as calmly and philosophically as usual. "Good-day, Charles," he said. "I have been waiting for you for some time in your room, but as the time hung rather heavily on my hands I went at last to pay my respects to the Counsellor. He was delighted to see me, and received me with the greatest possible kindness; but how dreadfully changed he is." True, Hawermann replied, his master had become terribly aged and feeble, and he feared that he would not long be spared to them. — "Yes," answered Bräsig, "but what is life after all, Charles? What is human life? Look you, Charles, it is as though it were a thing twirled round and round like an empty purse from which not a single farthing can fall, however long one may wait." — "Bräsig," said Hawermann, "I don't know what other people may think of it, but life and work always seem to me to be one and the same thing." — "Oh, ho! Charles, I have you now! You learnt that from parson Behrens. He has spoken to me now and then on the subject, and he always makes out that human life in this world is neither more nor less than a sort of seed-time, and that Christian faith is the sun and rain that makes the seed sprout and grow, and that only hereafter, in the other world, comes the harvest, for while he is on earth, man must labour and toil to the uttermost. — But, Charles, that is a wrong way of looking at it, it goes clean against Scripture. — The Bible tells us of the lilies of the field, how they toil not, neither do they spin, and yet our Heavenly Father feeds them. And if God feeds them, they are alive, and yet they do no work. And when I have that confounded gout, and can do nothing — absolutely nothing, except flap the beastly flies away from my face — can I be said to work? And yet I am alive, and suffer horrible torture into the bargain. And, Charles," he continued, pointing to a field on the right, "just look at those two lilies coming towards us. I mean the lieutenant and his youngest sister; now have you ever heard that lieutenants in a cavalry-regiment do any sort of hard work, or that young ladies of rank and position busy themselves with spinning? Yet there they come, alive and well, walking over the rape-stubble." — "Will you wait a few minutes, Zachariah?" said Hawermann. "They are coming straight towards us, and perhaps wish to speak to us." — "All right," said Bräsig. "But I say, just look at the young lady wading through the stubble with a long train to her gown, and thin shoes! — Nay, Charles, life and suffering are one and the same thing, and the suffering always begins at the small end, with the feet for instance; and that this is true, witness my confounded gout, and the young lady's thin shoes. — But what I wanted to say was this, that your happiest time here is past and gone, for when the Counsellor is dead, you may look out for squalls. — You will then see strange things come to pass with my lady, her unmarried daughters, and the lieutenant. — Charles," he continued, after a few minutes silent thought, "it would be well for you to be on good terms with the crown-prince." — "Oh, Bräsig, what are you saying?" interrupted Hawermann. "I shall keep to the straight road." — "Yes, Charles, I do so too, and so does everyone who is not a Jesuit; but look at the young lady, she is also going along the straight road, but it leads her through the stubble! — Charles "

The young people had now come too near to allow him to finish his sentence, so he only added in a sort of aside: "A Jesuit? No! But he's a regular vocative case!" —

"Thank you, Mr. Hawermann, for waiting for us," said Alick von Rambow, coming up to them. "My sister and I set out on our walk with two different ends in view: her object was to find corn-flowers, and mine was to find horses. She can't find any cornflowers, and I can't see any horses." — "If you mean the common 'blue-bottle' by corn-flowers, Miss," said Bräsig. "But," he interrupted himself, "what a pity, that confounded rape-stubble has torn your pretty dress," and he stooped down as though he were about to try his hand at lady's maid's work, — "Oh, it doesn't matter," cried the young lady, starting back, "it's an old dress. But where shall I find the corn-flowers?" — "I'll show you. There are a good lot of them down there on the Gürlitz march; you'll find blue-bottles, red poppies, white gules, and thistles; in short, a whole plantation of weeds." — "That is a capital plan, Fidelia," said her brother, "while you go in search of corn-flowers with Mr. Bräsig, I will ask Mr. Hawermann to show me the young horses, for," turning to Hawermann, "you must know that my father was good enough to tell me this morning, that I might choose one of the best of the four-year-olds for my own use." — "I'll show them to you with great pleasure," answered Hawermann, "there are some really good horses amongst them." — So the two parties separated, and the last words Hawermann heard Bräsig say as he walked away with Miss Fidelia were, that he was delighted to make her acquaintance, for he had once had a dog that was called "Fidel," and that it had been a splendid ratter.

Hawermann and the lieutenant went together to the paddock, and as they walked they naturally talked about farming. The lieutenant was of a lively disposition, and Hawermann had known him from his childhood, but the bailiff found that he had learnt nothing about the subject on which he was talking, that his views were inpracticable, and his questions were so wide of the mark and displayed so much ignorance, that he could not help saying to himself: "He's good-natured, very good-natured, but he's very ignorant, and — good God! — when his father dies he will have the estate, and will have to make his living out of it!"

After they had reached the paddock, and had examined each of the young horses separately, the lieutenant said to Hawermann: "Well, what do you say? Which ought I to take?" — "The brown," replied the bailiff. — "I like the. black better, don't you see the beautiful arch of his neck, and what a finely shaped head he has?" — "Mr. von Rambow," said Hawermann, "you don't ride on the head or neck of a horse, but on its back and legs. You want a hack, and you'll get three times as much work out of the brown as the black." — "The black looks as if he were partly English?" — "You're quite right there, he is descended from Wild-fire; but the brown is of the old Mecklenburg breed, and it is a pity that these horses should be allowed to die out, that one should not take pains to keep up what is good in our own country but should exchange it for English racers." — "That may be all quite true," said Alick, "but as all the officers in my regiment have black horses, I shall decide on taking the black."

As Hawermann could not see the force of this reasoning, he remained silent, and the conversation on the way back was not so easy as before; but when they had nearly reached the house — right in front of the door, and as if he had been preparing for this last step — the lieutenant stopped the bailiff, and said with a deep sigh, and as if lifting a heavy burden from his breast: "Hawermann, I have long wished to have a little private talk with you. — Hawermann, I’m in debt — you must help me. — I owe a hundred and thirty-five pounds, and I must have the money." — That was a bad proposal to make to Hawermann; but in really serious matters the bailiff used the influence of his age, he looked the young man of three and twenty full in the face, and said: "I can't help you in this, Mr. von Rambow." — "Hawermann, dear Hawermann, I'm desperately in want of the money." — "Then you ought to speak to your father." — "To my father? No, no! he has already paid so much for me, and now he is ill, it might do him harm." — "Still you should tell him. Such things as this ought never to be discussed with strangers, they should always be arranged between father and son." — "Strangers?" asked Alick, looking at him reproachfully. "Do you really look upon me as such a complete stranger, Hawermann!" — "No, Mr. von Rambow, no," exclaimed Hawermann, seizing his young master's hand, "you are no stranger to me. And I will do anything for you that I possibly can. This matter is in itself a mere nothing, and if I could not manage it alone, my friend Bräsig would make up the rest; but, dear Mr. von Rambow, your father is your natural helper, and it would be wrong to pass him over." — "I can't tell my father," said Alick, plucking the leaves off a willow-tree near him. — "You must tell him," cried Hawermann as emphatically as he could, "he feels that you are concealing some of your debts from him, and that pains him," — "Has he spoken to you about it?" — "Yes,'^ replied Hawermann, "but only in connection with his own great need of money which you already know about." — "I know," said Alick, "and I also know the source from which my father received assistance. — Well, I can do what my father did before me," he added coldly and shortly as he entered the house. — "Mr. von Rambow," cried Hawermann, following him hastily, "don't do that, for Heaven's sake, you won't succeed, and you'll only be in a more unpleasant position than before." — Alick would not listen to him.

A couple of hours later, lieutenant von RamboAv was standing amongst the wool-sacks and sheep-skins in the Jew's house, where David found his amusement amongst the articles of his trade, and he seemed to be making a despairing last appeal to Moses, who kept determined hold of his purse-strings. "Really and truly, my lord Baron, I can't do it. And why not? Can't I make by it? Can't I make a good deal by it? — Look you, my lord Baron, there is David — David, what are you doing? What are you looking at? Come here, David. — Look you, my lord Baron, here he is standing before you and me, I w^on't give him the least sign, but will go quietly into the next room, and then you can ask David." And with that he walked right shoulder first into the next room.

Poor Alick's affairs must have been in a bad way before he would have had anything to do with such a person as David, for if he in his grand new uniform looked fit to draw the king's carriage, David's outer man was so shabby and ill-conditioned that he was worthy of nothing better than dragging a scavenger's cart. But in this sort of business appearance is nothing, the chief thing is to know how to act in any emergency, and David was quite up to the mark there. He had three qualities that stood him in very good stead: firstly, he had the incomparably sly, sharp expression and features of the Jewish usurer, and as he stood before lieutenant von Rambow, chewing a bit of cinnamon stalk he had taken from his mother's store-closet, as a remedy against the close woolly smell of the warehouse, and gazing at him with his head bent a little sideways, and one hand in his pocket, he looked as impudent as if the ghosts of all the rats that had died in the house, during all the years that he had carried on the wool-trade there, had entered into him: secondly, he knew himself to be a far harder and more unyielding man of business than his father, for having had so much to do with wool, skins, &c., which are known to be difficult things to deal with, had taught him much: and thirdly, he was quite up to the most approved method of drawing on, or holding off, a customer, and this he had also learnt in the wool-trade.

Naturally Alick could make nothing of such a highly gifted individual, and very soon turned to go away with a heavy heart. David was so pleased with the way in which he had conducted the case in hand, that he began to compassionate the young man, and felt inclined to give him a little friendly counsel, so he advised him to apply to attorney Slus'uhr, "for he has the money, and he will arrange matters for you."

Lieutenant von Rambow had scarcely closed the door when Moses rushed in, and exclaimed: "David, have you any conscience? — I'll tell you something, you have none! — How could you send the lad to such a cutthroat?" — "I have only sent him to his own people," replied David maliciously. "He's a soldier, so he's a cut-throat too. And even supposing that the attorney does cut his throat, what's that to you? And if he cuts the attorney's throat, what's that to me?'' — "David," said the old man, shaking his head, "I tell you again, you have no conscience." — "What is conscience?" growled David. "When you are doing business you send me away, and when you won't do business you call me." — "David," said his father, "you are too young," and with that he went into his room again. — "Am I too young?" muttered David between his teeth. "Am I always to be too young? Well, I know a place where I am not too young." Then he changed his coat, and set out in the same direction as he had sent the lieutenant, to the house of attorney Slus'uhr.

I do not know what he had to do there, but I know this, that young Mr. von Rambow had to write a good many letters that evening when he got back to Pümpelhagen, and that he sent a cheque in each of them, and that when they were all finished he gave a deep sigh as if he had got rid of a heavy burden. He did not know that although he had weathered the first storm, he had acted like the old woman who heated the yeast in her baking trough.
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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