Chapter 2

What Mamsell Westphalen and the watchmaker talked about; why Friedrich wanted to cut the buttons off the Frenchman's trousers; how he put him to bed in the Stemhagen Wood; and why Fieka did not accept the Malchin Merchant.

As soon as the courtyard was clear, the watch-maker marched with sword and gun into Mamsell Westphalen's pantry, and Mamsell Westphalen dried her eyes and said: "Herr Droi, you are an angel of deliverance." She always called him Droi instead of Droz because she thought Droi was better French and that people did not pronounce it properly. — The angel of deliverance now put his musket down beside the soap-tub, hung up his sword on the meat hook, threw his bearskin on a chair, and seated himself on the table; he then drew forth a checked handkerchief, laid it on his knees and folded it neatly, passed it twice slowly under his nose, and then pulled out his large round snuff box and offered it to Mamsell Westphalen saying: "Plait i'?"

"Certainly," said Mamsell Westphalen, "it platee's me; for, Herr Droi, my eyes are very bad, and they have been getting weaker ever since last autumn, — it was then I had my great illness, and the doctors gave it a long name, but, Herr Droi, I said it was nothing but the common hay-fever, and I hold to that still."

So saying she set before Herr Droi a delicious roast duck and a bottle of wine, of the Amtshauptmann's best, and made a little bobbing curtsey, and said in her turn: "Platee?"

Well, it "plaiti'd" the watchmaker very much, and it seemed to him as if he were an angel of deliVerance, and Mamsell Westphalen's pantry a paradise after his dumplings and bacon; and when he was at his second bottle, he talked a great deal about the "Vin de Vaud " and "ze beauteeful Suisse." "Ah!" said he, "je suis fier de mon pays, it must zat you come one time to my pays, zere zing ze birds and zere murmurent ze brooks."

Darkness had gradually crept upon them, when all on a sudden Fritz Sahlmann burst into the room and said: "Well, here's a pretty business! The Herr Amtshauptmann is striding up and down the garden without any hat on, talking to himself; the Herr Burmeister has made off without saying a word to anybody; Miller Voss's Friedrich has been standing at the gate for the last hour swearing away at the 'cursed patriots' and the 'gallowsbird Dumouriez,' and the Miller is holding his list in the Frenchman's face, and asking what the French have done with the four horses and six oxen which they robbed him of; and tho Frenchman is sitting there and not moving an inch, only rolling his eyes about."

"Fritz Sahlmann," asked Mamsell Westphalen, "doesn't he move at all?"

"No, Mamsell."

"I know you're a bit of a coward, and that you don't always speak the truth. Tell me, Fritz, on your conscience, are you sure that he does not move?"

"No, Mamsell, he does not move or stir a bit."

"Well then, Herr Droi, let us go upstairs; we will soon set him to the right about; but take some of your instruments for cutting and stabbing with you, and if you see he is going to do me any harm, you must protect me. And you, Fritz Sahlmann, run to the Miller's Friedrich and tell him that he is to put up his horses and come in here, for better is better, and 'what one can do easily won't be difficult for two.'"

So Friedrich now comes in, and gets a huge dram, and shakes himself, as is the custom after a good draught, and the procession moves forward towards the Amtshauptmann's room: Friedrich in front, then Mamsell Westphalen, who had taken the watchmaker's arm, and finally Fritz Sahlmann in the rear.

As they entered the room, the Miller sat at the table, a broad grin on his round face, and before him two glasses which he clinked together, first the one against the other, and then the other against the one, drinking for himself and the Frenchman too. He had taken off his coat, the work having made him warm. On his head he had got the Frenchman's helmet with the long horse-hair plume; and round his huge body, as well as it would go, the Frenchman's sword. The latter lay stretched on the sofa, arrayed in the Herr Amtshauptmann's white cotton nightcap and flowered dressing-gown; and the rogue of a Miller had given him, instead of his sword, a long quill pen, which he silently waved about in the air, for he could not speak a word.

When Mamsell Westphalen got to the door and beheld this spectacle, she set her arms a-kimbo, asevery right-thinking elderly person would naturally do under such circumstances, and asked: "Miller Voss, what is this? What do you call this? What do you mean by this?"

The Miller tried to answer, but burst out laughing, and could with difficulty and only after some time, bring out, "Fun."

"What!" exclaimed Mamsell Westphalen. "Is that a proper answer for a man with wife and children? Do you call that respect for your superiors, to play such tricks in the Amtshauptmann's study? Herr Droi, follow me!" So saying, she went over to where the Frenchman lay, snatched the nightcap from his head, gave him a couple of boxes on the ear, said merely: "The poor innocent nightcap!" and, "You pig!" and turned round and cried out to Friedrich: "Friedrich, come here and help me take off the Herr's dressing-gown from this fellow, nd you, Herr Droi — for you will understand such things — take the soup-dish off that stupid Miller's head, and unbuckle his sword."

When that was done, she said: "Fritz Sahlmann, you chatterbox, mind you don't say a word to the Herr Amtshauptmann about what has happened to his things, for he would be sure to burn them, and how could the innocent nightcap and dressing-gown help it if grown-up men will behave like school-boys?" As she said this, she looked sharply at the grinning Miller, replaced the cork in the half-finished bottle, put her arms once more a-kimbo, and said: "Well, what's to be done now?"

"I know," cried Friedrich; and he pulled his clasp-knife out of bis pocket, and opened it with a snap, then walked up to the Frenchman, tore open his coat, and was proceeding to insert the knife, when Mamsell Westphalen rushed in between them, crying:

"Good heavens, Friedrich! Is the devil tempting you? Surely you would not murder him?"

"Diable," said Herr Droi, and caught hold of Friedrich's arm-, and Fritz Sahlmann threw up the window and shouted: "Herr Amtshauptmann, Herr Amtshauptmann, it's beginning now." Smack! He got a blow on the mouth. It seemed, however, to come quite naturally to him, for Mamsell Westphalen gave him daily three — more or less.

Friedrich remained where he was, and said coolly: "What do you mean? Do you think I'm a cannibal? I was only going to cut the buttons off his trousers. We used always to do it when we took any prisoners when I served in Holland under the Duke of Brunswick against the cursed patriots and the gallowsbird Dumouriez in the year '90;" and, turning to Mamsell Westphalen, he added "You see, Mamsell, then they can't escape, for if they tried, their trousers would fall down over their knees.”

"You ought to be ashamed of yourself, Friedrich, for saying such a thing. What have I got to do with the Frenchman's trousers? Our business is to think what we are to do with this fellow!"

"Do? Do, indeed?" cried Miller Voss, "What do you mean? Where I go, he goes; and we have sworn eternal friendship; and he's a jolly Frenchman, and I'm a jolly Mecklenburger, and whoever wants to know about it, let him come here." And he looked at them all, one after another. As nobody said anything, he clapped the Frenchman on the shoulder and said: "Brother, you shall go with me."

"That will be best," said Mamsell Westphalen; "then we shall be rid of both of them. Herr Droi, take hold of him." And the one "grande nation" took the other "grande nation's" legs, and Friedrich took his head; Fritz Sahlmann carried the light, Mamsell Westphalen commanded the whole, and the Miller stumbled along after her.

"Now," said Friedrich, "in with him into the waggon under the straw! That's it. Now lie there! Fritz Sahlmann, put the horses to. And you, Herr Droz, help me up with the Miller; but take care he does not lose his balance, for I know him, and he slips over if you're not careful."

When the Miller was seated, Friedrich asked: "Well, is everything on board?"

"Everything," replied Mamsell Westphalen.

"Well then, gee-up," said Friedrich. But scarcely had they gone a couple of paces when the watchmaker cried out, "Halte, halte, Frédéric! You have forget ze camerade's horse, it stop in ze logis for ze leetle poules."

"Yes," said Fritz Sahlmann; "it's standing in the hen-house."

"Well, then, wo!" cried Friedrich; "fasten it to the tail of the waggon."

They set about doing So; but before it was done, the old Amtshauptmann came back from his walk, in the garden, and asked what the matter was. "Oh! nothing, nothing!" said Mamsell Westphalen; "only Miller Voss has invited the Frenchman to go home with him and spend the night up at the Gielow Mill."

"It's all right then," said the old Herr. "Good-bye, Miller. I shall not forget you."

Dieses Kapitel ist Teil des Buches IN THE YEAR 13