Chapter 5

In which Friedrich translates the Prussian motto "suum cuique" for the Miller's benefit, and goes on a wild-goose chase after the Frenchman; and the Miller finds he has sat down on a swarm of bees.

"Miller," said Friedrich as they left the mill and came out into the high road, "have you ever seen an old woman break her pitcher and then put the pieces together and say 'that's how it was?'"

"Why?" asked the Miller.

"Oh! nothing," said Friedrich, and he waved his whip vacantly over the horses as if it were the season for flies. The Miller sat lost in thought.

After a time Friedrich asked again —

"Miller, have you ever seen a boy out of whose hand a sparrow has just escaped, look into his empty hand and say 'O!'?"

"Why?" asked the Miller.

Friedrich simply repeated "Oh! nothing."

The Miller sat still again, and all sorts of things passed through his mind, and he puzzled over some such rule-of-three sum as: "What will the bushel of oats come to next Easter if I don't pay the Jew to-morrow?" and was soon lost in the fractions.

They drive on and on. At last Friedrich turns half round and asks — "Miller, do you know the proverb: 'don't pour your dirty water away till you have got clean'?"

The Miller began to get angry, and after thinking for some time what Friedrich was driving at with these questions, he said: "Are you chaffing me?"

"Chaffing?" said Friedrich. "No, heaven forbid — I didn't mean anything. — But I know another saying, and that is, ' If you have a thing, you've got it.' And we Prussians have an eagle for our crest, and underneath is a Latin verse which fits that saying as close as your finger and thumb when you nip a pig's tail. And the sergeant of my company — he was a runaway student — he understood the verse and translated it: 'Hold fast what you've got, and take what you can get.' Now, this proverb is handy at times, 'specially in time of war." Turning round again he went on. "Miller Voss, cursed be the shilling I steal from my neighbour, and cursed be the wheat, oats, or barley I cheat my master of; but in time of war it's quite different. The Turks and the French are the country's enemy, and the country's enemy is not better by a hair than the arch-enemy. What said old Captain von Restorp? 'Injury must be done to the enemy in every way!' Now, Miller Voss," and he pointed to the Valise, "that would be an injury."

"Hold your tongue,", said the Miller sharply, " the thing is settled. I'll have nothing to do with the money, I'll take it to the bailiwick,— and I wish I could take the Frenchman along with it. Fieka thinks some bad end will come of the business."

"As you please," said Friedrich, "Gee up," and he touched the horses with his whip. "Some listen to men, and some listen to women; for my part I don't hold by women's advice."

"Nor I neither generally," said the Miller.

They drove on silently again till at length Friedrich asked — "Miller, who was that young fellow who came to the mill this morning?"

"That was Joe Voss's son; it's him I have the lawsuit with. Do you like him?"

"I only saw his back. Well — yes he'd make a grenadier."

"He says he wants to come to an understanding," said the Miller.

"Then I like him still better; a lean compromise is better than a fat lawsuit."

"He is going to wait for me till I come back."

"Is he?" said Friedrich, and turned half round again, "Miller, I tell you what, it would be better if he came to an understanding with Fieka."

"What do you mean by that?" asked the Miller.

"Oh! nothing," said Friedrich.

Presently he bent down and looked sharply along the road, then gave the reins into the Miller's hand, jumped off the waggon, unfastened the Chasseur's horse and, before Voss knew what was going to happen, was in the great Kolpin dyke, had turned round a corner and bound the horse to a thorn-tree in the dyke, so that he could not be seen.

"What is the matter?" asked the Miller, when he came back.

"What's the matter? Why, two men are coming along on horseback, out yonder by the Stemhagen fields, and just now when the sun came out, I saw a bright flash. Those are Frenchmen, and if they were to catch a Chasseur's horse here with bridle and saddle, they would have something to say to us; — take my word for it."

"True," said the Miller.

When they came to the Stemhagen wood. Fried- rich pointed with his whip to the beech-tree where the straw still lay, and said: "That's where I laid him."

"If he were only there now!" sighed the Miller.

"You can't expect it. Miller. For it rained in torrents last night, and a beech-tree is not quite waterproof at this time of year."

"True," said the Miller again.

Whilst they were still talking, the two Frenchmen rode up, and asked the way to the Gielow mill; for several roads met here. Before the Miller could answer, Friedrich pointed to the right, the way to Cumrowsch wood, and on their asking how far it was, he said "a little lieu,'' whereupon they rode off.

Dieses Kapitel ist Teil des Buches IN THE YEAR 13