CHAPTER VI. - Hawermann never heard of what had happened at the parsonage, but from that day his daughter was even more loving and tender to him than before . . .

Hawermann never heard of what had happened at the parsonage, but from that day his daughter was even more loving and tender to him than before, as if she had determined that her love should wipe away the scandalous words that had been spoken regarding him. Mrs. Nüssler of course heard all about it from her children, but she had not the heart to trouble her brother by telling him what would so sorely distress him; the clergyman and his wife were silent for the same reason, and also because they hoped that the circumstance would die out of their foster-child's memory, if it were never alluded to; Joseph Nüssler said nothing, and Bräsig held his tongue as far as Hawermann himself was concerned, but he indemnified himself for his silence, and for the sharp attack of gout which came on the day after the scene at the parsonage, by nearly raising the country-side against the Pomuchelskopps, who so little understood how to gain the love and good will of their neighbours, that they soon made themselves as disagreeable in the eyes of those who lived near them as my wife's*) floors just before Whitsuntide — well-polished and shining as they are at other times.

*) Translator s note. During the spring-cleaning.

Pomuchelskopp looked upon his surroundings as a great garden in which he might plant his self-esteem, Whether it gave him shade or flowers he did not care; as long as what was sowed there flourished and grew apace, it mattered not to him what form it took. He had come to Mecklenburg for two reasons: firstly, because he thought the purchase of Gürlitz a good bargain, and secondly, because he had an exalted idea of his future position as justice of the peace. "Henny," he said, "every one has the upper-hand of us here in Pomerania, and the Sheriff" is all-powerful, but in Mecklenburg I shall be one of the law-givers. And besides that, I've always heard that if rich men of the middle-class only stick to the aristocracy through thick and thin, they receive a patent of nobility after a time. Only think, Chuck, Mrs. von Pomuchelskopp! — how would you like that? One mustn't crow too small in this world!" — That was a sin of which he never was guilty. He gave up his chief delight of making a great show with his money for fear of having to do it in the company of tenant-farmers and bailiff's, and he addressed old Bräsig coldly and distantly, and paid a visit of ceremony to Bräsig's master, the Count, instead of to his old acquaintance. He put on his blue coat with the brass buttons, and drove to Warnitz in his grand new carriage drawn by four brown horses, and when he got there he was as much out of place as a pig in a Jew's house. As soon as he reached home again he seated himself crossly in the sofa-corner, and flapped at the flies. His wife who was always loving to him when he was in a bad-humour, asked him: "What is the matter with you, Poking?" — He growled out in reply: "What should be the matter with me? It isn't me, it's those confounded aristocrats who are friendly one moment, and turn a cold shoulder on one the next. He offered me a chair, and then asked me very pohtely how he could be of service to me — I didn't want his help, I'm better off than he is — but I couldn't think of anything to say at the moment, and the silence grew so frightful that there was nothing for it but to go away." — Notwithstanding this repulse Pomuchelskopp did not crow any lower; he hung on the skirts of the aristocracy as closely as the tail to the sheep, and though he had not a penny to give any of his own people when they were in distress, or to the poor artisans in the town who were often nearly starving, he always had plenty of money for any extravagant young sprig of the nobility who asked him for it; and though he prosecuted any poor man without mercy who ventured to cross one of his corn-fields, yet he gave Bräsig's master, the Count, leave to hunt over his land in harvest-time; and though he treated his clergyman scandalously with regard to the Easter-lamb, he allowed the Count's keepers to shoot a roe-deer at his very door without a word of remonstrance. Yes, Samuel Pomuchelskopp had high aims!

Hawermann kept out of his way, for he was of a quiet disposition and disliked quarrelling, he was contented with his lot, and had plenty to do. He felt like a storm-tossed mariner who had at last reached port, and he had nothing to trouble him but anxiety about his master's affairs. — A short time before he had received a letter with a black seal, and written in an unknown hand, in which the Squire informed him that he had had a slight stroke of paralysis, and had lost the use of his right hand, and that a still greater misfortune than even that had happened to him, his wife had died suddenly, and when apparently quite well. Then he went on to say that his nephew, Frank, might be expected at Pümpelhagen at the Michaelmas term to begin to learn farming, adding: "he wishes to put his own hand to the work, and to learn everything thoroughly, and I think he is right." These were the words the Squire had dictated to his secretary. — A few weeks later Hawermann got another letter in which Mr. von Rambow informed him that he had given up his government appointment in Schwerin, and intended to take up his abode at Pümpelhagen after Easter with his three unmarried daughters, he could not come before that, because he must spend the winter in Schwerin to be near his doctor. He then desired his bailiff to see that the manor-house was put in a thorough state of repair. — Of course, this change made a great difference to Hawermann, even though he had done nothing to make him fear his master's eye, and though he took great interest in all his concerns, yet he could not help thinking that the quiet simple tenour of his life would be changed, and besides — was not this the precursor of a still greater change?

Michaelmas came, and brought with it Frank von Rambow. He was by no means a handsome young man, but he was strong and healthy, and on looking closely at his grave face, one saw that his eyes had a very good-natured expression; the shade of melancholy which was often to be seen on his countenance was perhaps caused by his having lost both his parents in his childhood, and therefore feeling himself alone in the world. He was no genius, but he possessed sound good sense, and had made the most of his opportunities; he had passed through all the classes of the High School with credit, and had been thoroughly prepared for the University, but, above all, he had learnt what would be useful to him all his life long — to work! He might be likened to a young tree that had been grown in a nursery-garden in poor soil, whose stem had matured slowly, but was strong and good, whose top was firm and upright, and whose branches were spread out equally on every side, so that when the time came for it to be planted on other ground, it could stand by itself without artificial support, and the gardener said: "Let it be, it is straight and true to a line, it needs no stake to keep it steady."

Frank von Rambow, whom Hawermann remembered as a three years old child, was now twenty years of age, and had steady principles, views and opinions such as few other young men in the province were possessed of. He had two large estates, which had been completely freed from debt during his long minority. Of course, he could not remember the time when Hawermann was in his father's service, but he had been told how fond of him the bailiff had always been, and when a single-minded, good-hearted man knows that he sees before him one who has carried him in his arms when he was a little child, an involuntary feeling of trust and confidence in the man comes into his heart, and it seems to him as if the intervening years had passed away, and he were a child again, seeing the old sights and dreaming the old dreams.

And Hawermann returned the young man's trust and affection with all his heart. Carefully and patiently he taught his pupil the work he had come to learn, he showed him how to manage matters in byre and held, told him why he did this or that, and tried to make everything easy to him; but he found that his pupil would not have things made too easy for him, that he was determined to learn everything practically, and so he gave him his wish, and said of him what the gardener had said of the tree; "Let him be, he needs neither prop nor support."

A new inmate was soon to join this quiet couple, and bring life and excitement with him, and that was Fred Triddelfitz. As soon as Triddelfitz, the apothecary in Rahnstadt, who was brother-in-law of Mrs. Behrens, heard that Hawermann was teaching a young man farming, he took it into his head that his son Fred, a fine lad of seventeen, should also profit by Hawermann's lessons. "The higher branches of farming are all that I require," said Fred, "for I was twice at Moller's in the dog-days, and helped to lead in the corn there."

Little Mrs. Behrens refused to have anything to do with the arrangement, for she knew her nephew, and did not wish to trouble Hawermann with the charge of him, but her brother-in-law would not leave her in peace till she undertook the business. Hawermann would have gone through fire and water for the clergyman's family, but he could make no promise till he had consulted his master. He therefore wrote to Mr. von Rambow, and told him that young Triddelfitz was only in the third division of the High School, that his head was full of nonsense, but that he was a goodhearted lad all the same; still his principal merit was that he was nephew of the clergyman's wife to whom he, Hawermann, owed so much as the Squire already knew; besides that, the father offered fifteen pounds a year for his son's board. Would Mr. von Rambow allow Fred Triddelfitz to learn farming on his estate on these terms? — The Squire wrote to say that he would not hear of receiving money for the youth's board, that the fifteen pounds was to pay for the teaching he got, and that was Hawermann's business, not his. If Hawermann liked to do it, let him do it in God's name. — It was a great pleasure to Hawermann to be told this, he could now do something, however small, to show his gratitude to Mr. and Mrs. Behrens for the great service they had done him, and so he consented to receive Fred without the payment of any fee.

Fred Triddelfitz arrived. But how did he come? Being the only son of his mother — she had two daughters besides — he was so grandly got up for his new mode of life that he might have passed for a farmer's apprentice, a grain-merchant, a commercial-traveller, a farm-bailiff, a tenant-farmer or a country-gentleman, according to the part he was called upon to play, or as his own fancy dictated. He had kidboots, and leather-boots, laced-boots, top-boots and high-lows; he had dressing-slippers, dancing-shoes, and shoes that came up well about his instep; he had buttoned leggings, leggings for riding in, and other kinds of leggings; he had evening-coats, linen smockfrocks, tweed-coats, and pilot-jackets, he had greatcoats, waistcoats, and water-proofs, and it would be impossible to mention the names of all the various kinds of trousers and breeches with which he was provided. — This outfit arrived at Pümpelhagen one beautiful morning in a number of huge boxes, together with a feather-bed and an enormous davenport; the carrier at the same time gave the pleasing intelligence that the young gentleman might be expected at any moment, for he was on the road, and his arrival had only been delayed by a slight difference between him and his father's old sorrel-horse which he was riding; the horse refused to go further than Gürlitz parsonage, because he had never before been required to do so. How the battle would end the carrier did not know, for he had left it still undecided, but the young gentleman was coming all the same.

The carrier's information was correct, the young gentleman came; but how did he come? He was dressed as grandly as if he had been the agent of two large estates, and had been asked by his master, the Count, to join his great hunting-party; he had on a green hunting-coat, white leather-breeches, boots with yellow tops, and spurs, and over all he wore a water-proof, not because it looked like rain, no, but because it was a new kind of dress, and he wanted to hear what people said about it. He was riding his father's sorrel-horse, and it was easy to see that they were not on the best of terms with each other. The sorrel had come to a stand in the middle of the large pond in front of the parsonage, and had refused to move to the great terror of little Mrs. Behrens, but at last after a struggle of about ten minutes, Fred got the mastery by the aid of his riding-whip and spurs, and now when he dismounted at Pümpelhagen his new water-proof was coated with mud. The sorrel stood quietly in front of the door of the home-farm at Pümpelhagen, stared straight before him, and asked himself: "Is he a fool, or am I one? I am seventeen years old, and so is he. I am of a reddish brown colour, and so is he. He got his own way to-day, but I'll have mine next time. If he ever attacks me with whip and spur again, I’ll just lie down quietly in the pond."

When Fred Triddelfitz entered the room where Hawermann, young Mr. von Rambow, and the housekeeper Mary Möller were seated at dinner the bailiff was startled, for he had never seen his new pupil before. Fred, in his new green hunting-coat, looked exactly like an asparagus stalk that had run to seed, he was so small and thin in the waist that any one could easily have cut him in two with his own riding-whip. It was quite true as the sorrel-horse had said, that he had red hair, his cheek-bones were high, his face freckled, and his manner self-confident and bored. Hawermann could not help saying to himself: "Heaven preserve me! Am I to teach this young fellow? It's all up with me now!" — He was roused from his disagreeable reflections by a great shout of laughter from Frank von Rambow in which Mary Möller joined, secretly and holding her table-napkin up to her face to hide that she did so. — Fred, wishing to talk down their laughter, had just begun: "Good morning. Sir, I hope I see you well," when he caught sight of his old school-fellow at Parchen, Frank von Rambow, who was in convulsions of laughter; he looked at him rather sheepishly at first, but after a moment joined heartily in the laugh against himself, and even grave old Hawermann laughed till the tears rolled down his cheeks. — "Why," cried Frank, "whatever induced you to get yourself up so grandly?" — "One should do everything in style!" said Fred, whereupon Mary Moller once more disappeared behind her table-napkin. — "Come, Triddelfitz," said Hawermann, "sit down and have some dinner." — Fred did so, and anyone would have said that the rascal was in luck, he had begun his country life at the best time of the year for food, when geese were in season, and as it was Sunday, a finely browned roast goose was on the table, so that his first experience of a farmer's life might well be a pleasing one to him. He did not spare the goose in any way, and Hawermann thought that, if he sat on horseback as he did at table, if he paid as much attention to the labourers as he did to the goose, if he understood foddering a horse as well as feeding himself, and if he swept everything under his charge as clean as his plate, he might expect him to be a great acquisition to the place.

"Now, Triddelfitz," said Hawermann as soon as dinner was over, "go to your room and change your clothes, and don't forget to wrap up your grand riding-costume carefully for fear the moths should get at it, for you won't want it again during the first two years that you are here. We don't ride here, for all^ our work can be done on foot, and I do any riding that may be necessary myself, when it is convenient." — Fred soon returned to the parlour wearing good strong leather boots, breeches, and a sort of pilot-jacket made of grass-green cloth. — "That's better," said Hawermann, "now come with me and I will show you what we are doing." — They went out. — Next morning Fred went with seven of the young men and women who worked on the farm, along the Rahnstädt road to open any drains that were blocked up and so let the water run off wherever it had collected in pools — what made this occupation especially unpleasant was that it was a November day, and that a small persistent rain was falling.— "Hang it all!" said Fred Triddelfitz, "I never thought that it would be as bad as this."

One Sunday afternoon, about a fortnight or so after his arrival, Bräsig rode up to the farm. Fred had by this time grown so far accustomed to his position with Hawermann, to his monotonous employment, and to the everlasting rain, that he was able partly to understand his duties as a farming apprentice, and with his customary good nature had begun to pay all sorts of little attentions to everyone about him. So when he saw Bräsig ride up to the door, he ran out to meet him and take his horse; but Bräsig shrieked out: "Keep away from me. Don't touch me. Keep ten feet away from me. — Let Charles Hawermann come out and speak to me." — Hawermann came: "Why don't you dismount, Bräsig? he asked. — "Don't help me down, Charles — just fetch me a soft chair, so that I may dismount gently and gradually, and then put a sheep-skin mat or something soft beside the chair for me to step upon, for I've got that confounded gout again." — Everything was done as he wished. Footstools were laid from the chair to the door, and then he slid slowly and carefully from his saddle, and limped into the parlour. "Why didn't you let me know you were ill, Bräsig, and I'd have gone to see you with pleasure?" — "It wouldn't have been of any use, Charles, I had to crawl out of the hole myself. But I came to tell you that I've given up all hope." — "Of what?" — "Of marrying. I intend to accept the pension that the Count promised me." — "I think that I should do the same in your place, Bräsig." — "Your advice is very good no doubt, Charles, but it is hard for a man of my age to give up the darling wish of a life-time, and go to a water-cure place, for it's there Dr. Strump wants to send me. I don't have Dr. Strump to attend me because I believe that he knows how to cure me, but because he suffers from that wretched gout himself, and when he's sitting beside me talking learnedly about the benefit to be derived from taking Polchicum and Colchicum, I feel comforted by the thought that such a clever man has gout as badly as myself." — "Then you are going to a water-cure establishment?" — "Yes, but not till spring. I've arranged all my plans. I'll just manage as well as I can this winter; in spring I'll try the water-cure, and at the midsummer term I'll retire on my pension, and go to live at the old mill-house at Haunerwiem. I thought at first that I'd go to Rahnstädt, but I shouldn't have a free house there, and I'd have found a leg of mutton now and then too expensive a luxury to be indulged in." — "You're quite right, Bräsig. It's much better for you to remain in the country and near us; indeed I don't know what I should do if I hadn't a sight of your honest old face every few days." — "Oh, you wouldn't miss me much, you have so many people about you, especially these two lads. And that reminds me, there was another thing I wanted to say to you. Old Broker in Kniep, and Schimmel in Radboom want you to teach their sons farming. I should consent to take them if I were you, and by adding a room or two to the old farm-house you'd be able to set up quite an aquademy of agriculture." — "You're joking, Bräsig! I've enough to do with the two pupils I have already." — "Do you think so? I hope they are well." — "Yes. You know them both, and I want you to tell me what you think of them." — "I can't give any opinion as yet, I must first see their way of going on. The first thing to teach a young farmer is what a colt is always taught, to lead with the right foot. Look, there's your young nobleman, call him here that I may have a better sight of him." — Hawermann laughed, but agreed to Bräsig's proposal and called Frank von Rambow. "Hm!" said Bräsig, "he walks steadily and not too hurriedly, and doesn't put off time with looking about him, but goes straight to the point. He'll do, Charles. Now for the other!" — "Mr. von Rambow," asked Hawermann when the young man had come up to the window, "where is Triddelfitz?" — "In his room," was the answer. — "Hm!" said Bräsig. "Is he resting?" — "I don't know." — "Tell him to come down," said Hawermann, "and you'd better come back soon yourself, for coffee will be ready immediately." — "Charles," said Bräsig, "you'll see that the apothecary's son is sound asleep this afternoon." — "Never mind if he is, Bräsig, he was up very early this morning giving out the feeds of corn for the horses." — "He oughtn't to do it, Charles, young people get into the habit of sleeping in the afternoon only too easily. Ah, there he is. Send him past the window that I may get a good side view of him!"—

"Triddelfitz," cried Hawermann, putting his head out at the window, "go to the stable and tell Joseph Boldten to have a pair of horses ready to drive Mr. Bailiff Bräsig home later in the afternoon." — "Bon," said Fred Triddelfitz, and then he set off at a good swinging pace along the causeway. — "Bless my soul!" exclaimed Bräsig. "What a high action the fellow has! Look at him, did you ever see such loose joints, soft muscles, and thin flanks! You'll have to feed him up for a long time, Charles, before he has what can be called a body. How he's getting over the ground! He's a quick dog that, a regular greyhound, and you'll soon have your hands full with him I wager." — "Ah, Bräsig, he's so young. He'll soon quiet down." — "Quiet? Sleeps after dinner? Says 'bong' when you send him a message? And, look there — yes — he's coming back without ever having been at the stables at all!" — "Didn't you say. Sir, that Joseph Boldten was to drive?" — "Yes," cried Bräsig sharply, "Joseph Boldten is to drive, and is not to forget what he is told. — Don't you see now that I was right, Charles?" — "Oh, Bräsig," said Hawermann, who felt rather cross with Fred for his stupidity, “let him be. We're not all alike. He'll do well enough if he only pays a little more attention to what he is told."

Hawermann seldom lost his temper, when he felt inclined to be cross he struggled against the feeling until he conquered it. In spite of the other ills of life which often filled his heart, such as care and anxiety, he always refused Captain Cross-patch admittance, and if ever he succeeded in making good his entrance, whispering ill-natured remarks and lies in his ear, he showed him the door at once and bid him begone, so that it was not long before he got rid of the intruder on this occasion also, and was able to enjoy a confidential chat with Bräsig which lasted till his friend went home.
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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