Chapter 3

Why Fritz Sahlmann got a box on the ears, and the watchmaker spent the night fighting with Mamsell Westphalen's four-post bed, and why the French Colonel paid a visit to the watchmaker in a red blanket.

When the Miller's waggon had driven off, the Amtshauptmann began to walk towards the house, but suddenly turning round again, he went up to Herr Droz and asked: "Droz, how much do I owe you?" Droz said as well as he could that he had been very glad to do it, for "ze Allemagne is now my patrie and I am tout for ze patrie."

"I don't mean that," said the old Herr, "I meant for my watch which you set to rights for me?" Droz replied that that was already paid for, adding "ze leetle boy, Fritz Sahlmann, had make it all right."

"I am quite aware of that," said the old Herr; "but, my dear Droz, a watchmaker must be paid not only for what he does to a watch but also for what he does not do, and therefore take this," and he put a couple of thalers into his hand and went into the house.

"Oh! let him go," said Mamsell Westphalen, "he's a curious old gentleman, but he means it well. But Herr Droi now come in with me and stay a hit in my room for this weather is enough to make one's soul freeze in one's body."

Herr Droi went with her, hut they had scarcely sat down when in came Fritz Sahlmann with the Frenchman's sword in his hand, and the Frenchman's helmet on his head, and a moustache which he had grown on the instant with the snuff of a candle. Smack! he had a box on his ears from Mamsell Westphalen: "Monkey!" and she took the sword and helmet from him and put them by her bed: "Monkey, have you nothing better to do than to be playing your tricks on an evening like this when we're all in such trouble? Go down to Herr Droi's good wife, represent my compliments to her, and she is not to be anxious; Herr Droi is with me, and there is no danger."

Fritz Sahlmann goes; and now they both sit down and tell one another about old times and new, that is to say, they try, but what Mamsell Westphalen says, Herr Droi does not understand well, and what Herr Droi says, Mamsell Westphalen understands Very badly indeed.

"He are bon," said Droz and chinks the two thalers in his hand.

"Of course, they're good," replied Mamsell Westphalen, "do you think the Amtshauptmann would give you bad money?"

"Ah! not bad money! I mean him, lui-même," and he pointed to the room above.

"Oh! the Herr Amtshauptmann you mean is bong. Yes, certainly he is bong, but the older he gets the more whimsical he grows, for he turns night into day and day into night, Herr Droi. Just think, here have I to sit up and roast and fry right into the middle of the night because he won't eat his supper till eleven or even twelve o'clock; and if it is burnt or dried up, he begins to scold, and then Frau Amtshauptmann who is very soft-hearted, she begins to cry. Then I say, 'Frau Amtshauptmann, why do you cry? Can we help it if he will live like a heathen? Leave off crying, we have a good conscience.' But Herr Droi it's very hard for me, a lone person, to sit here and listen to the storm raging round the Schloss, and the rain beating against the windows, and the owls hooting, and the winds whistling along the passages, as if all the evil spirits were let loose. Just listen! what weather it is again! — Herr Droi, are you at all afraid?"

"Oh, non!" replied Herr Droi; but he sat still and listened to the weather outside and said at last: "Leesten, Mamsell, du tonnerre!"

"What! Pommes de terre?" asked Mamsell "Westphalen, "what have potatoes to do with the weather at this season?"

"I not mean ze leetle boys wid ze brown jack'ts, I mean" — and here he made a rapid gesture with his hand indicating forked lightning — "I mean ze bright tsick-tsack wid rumpel, pumpel, rat-tat-te-tah."

"Then you are right, Herr Droi, for it really does go rumpel, pumpel, rat-tat-te-tah, out of doors."

"Ah!" said Herr Droi, "zat are ze tambours, zat are my camerades, ze grenadier." And he jumped up and marched up and down with his bearskin on his head, for here it was high enough; and then he stood still again: "Écoutez, zey march on ze marché, on ze market, and écoutez, zat are ze grand canons!"

And Mamsell Westphalen sat there with her hands folded in her lap and looked at him and shook her head and said: "How his soldiering does cling to him! He's generally a well-behaved man, what does he want to be looking so fierce for now? It's just like the old coachmen, when they can drive no longer, they are still always cracking their whips."

Presently the wife of Stalsch the weaver came in at the door, — she was Mamsell Westphalen's oracle and newspaper, bringing her the news of the town, and for every mouthful of news she brought to the castle, she took away a plateful of food, — she had turned her gown up over her head and the rain was streaming off her as from the roof of a house. She shook herself once, twice —

"Br-r-r, what a night it is," she said.

"That it is, Frau Meister," answered Mamsell Westphalen; — she always called her Frau Meister to show that she was the wife of a master weaver, "not for Stalsch's sake" she would say, "no, for my own sake, for what would people say if I were tobe intimate with a woman of no standing. I can be proud like other folk."

"Mamsell," said the Frau Meister, "I came up to tell you the market-place is full of Frenchmen, and they've brought with them ever so many great cannons, and the Burmeister has sent for my husband, and has ordered him this dark night and in this weather to the Villages round about to tell the peasants to be here with their waggons at noon to-morrow, and you see if you don't get some one quartered on you to-night."

"Heaven preserve us!" exclaimed Mamsell Westphalen, and went to the door and called to Hanchen and Corlin (the maids) and told them to light the fire in the blue room next hers, and to put up a couple of bedsteads for the Devil would soon send a bigmouthed French Colonel and a chattering ape of an adjutant up to the Schloss, and turning round to her company: "There they may lie," she said, "and if the ghost in the blue room is a Christian ghost it's not much sleep they'll get to-night and that's the best luck I wish them. For, Herr Droi," she went on, " the next room to this is haunted. Do you believe in ghosts?"

Herr Droi said, no.

Presently there was a noise outside and as Mamsell Westphalen looked out at the window, yes, there was a French Colonel with his adjutant coming in at the gate, and a couple of orderlies were following them. They were taken into the blue room where they put on dry clothes, and then they went up to the Amtshauptmann's room and had supper.

Herr Droi in the meantime sat deep in thought, muttering over and over again "Diable" and "Diantre", and on their questioning him it came out that he was in great fear; it might be his death he said, for if he were to go out in his uniform and the bearskin and sword and gun, he might be seen by one of the orderlies or one of the French sentries or some ruffian or other of a Frenchman and they might ask him where he came from and where he was going to, and then if he could not give a satisfactory account of himself, there would be the devil's own work, and the story of this afternoon might come out, and what would happen then?

"Herr Droi," said Mamsell Westphalen, "that's a bad business. You couldn't put on that imp Fritz Sahlmann's things, for if you did manage to squeeze yourself into them, they would be much too short for you. And the Herr Amtshauptmann's clothes? No, Herr Droi, you mustn't ask that of me. It would be just as if I were to set fire to the Schloss with my own hands. And, heaven be praised, we have no other men here. But Herr Droi you saved us when we were in danger this afternoon, and so I will save you in return. Your wife knows that you're up here amongst Christian folk. You shall sleep to-night in my four-post bedstead, and I will sleep with the housemaid; I'll put on fresh linen. Come, Frau Meister." So saying she went out, and presently she came back again, put fresh sheets on the bed and asked once more: "Herr Droi, are you not afraid?"

And Herr Droi again replied that he was not.

"That's all right," said she; "for it often goes tap— tap — tap, in a curious way close by. But it never comes into the room. I have had a horseshoe nailed over the door. — Listen, just listen! The Frenchmen are going to bed now. Just listen to the chattering! Herr Droi can you understand it all?"

''Ah, yes," said Herr Droi.

"I can easily believe it, for the wall is very thin. This was one large room once, but now it's made into two. Well, good night, Herr Droi. Come, Frau Meister."

Dieses Kapitel ist Teil des Buches IN THE YEAR 13