As the next evening dawned, Martha, sitting quiet and lonely in the corner of a ladies’ coupe, noticed the towers of M in the distance. Tired as she was of driving through the monotonous country under the gray autumn sky, her heart began to beat , very afraid to knock, and she would have liked to stop the locomotive from flying. Did she know what she would meet there under the towers? Did she know what kind of relationship she should have with the people she knew so little? An anxiety that had hitherto been foreign to her came over her; now it was stopped, the locomotive gave the signal, the train stopped. She got out hesitantly and trembling; a dense throng of people surrounded them – and not a familiar face among them!
Mrs. v. Märzfeld had written to her which hotel car she should get into. As she approached it,[p. 193]A fine servant came up to her, asked her name and took care of her luggage.
The carriage stopped in front of a large, elegant house on a wide but not very busy street. The servant led her in and up the lighted staircase into a very neat and nicely furnished little room.
“Ma’am, I beg you to make yourself comfortable here.”
A servant came and brought coffee and fine white bread. Martha needed refreshment and took a little; but it was difficult for her to eat what little she had; she felt so lonely and miserable.
After half an hour the servant appeared again: “Madam, give orders now!”
Martha followed him. She had, after Mrs. v. Märzfeld proposed to her to be Fanny’s teacher, stayed a few more days with the ladies in the small seaside resort; but it seemed to her in recollection that she had not come nearer to them, but had come further. True, the second daughter Lucie had exchanged very friendly looks and words with her at times, and sometimes it had seemed to Martha as if something unknown was holding her back from getting even closer to her; but the elder daughter was from the beginning[p. 194]to have been very reserved, and Mrs. v. March field actually unapproachable. So it was by no means the appearance of a reunion between acquaintances when Martha entered the reception room with an uneasy heart.
Madame sat stiffly and erect in the corner of her sofa and looked through her eye-glass at the woman entering; Judith and Lucie sat on plush armchairs on either side, fine embroidery in their hands.
Lucie rose involuntarily to meet the newcomer; Mrs. v. Märzfeld put her hand on her daughter’s arm: “Not like that, my child! Fraulein Feldwart will sit down with us.” With that she pointed to a chair, and Martha felt compelled to take a seat in it, after bowing just as stiffly.
After a few words about Martha’s trip, Mama seemed to be making a big effort to talk. Lucie wanted to escape; a look from her mother forced her to sit down again, and after a small attack of embarrassment she began to cough: “Miss Feldwart, we met in the freedom of bathing life; we were completely equals there. You’re probably pretty much on par with my daughters in terms of education, too; this has its beneficial but also its difficult sides, and I see it when you enter[p. 195]as my first duty to make our mutual position quite clear. If we had been able to go straight to the south, things would have taken care of themselves, or we wouldn’t have had to take things so seriously. But our family doctor wants Fanny to have an electric cure first, and I’ve found so many shops here that we can hardly travel before spring. Now I wanted to tell you this; not because I enjoy it, but because I think it necessary: as Fanny’s teacher, don’t expect me to put you on an equal footing with my daughters and train you to our circles and our sociability; this doesn’t fit. You will always be in the position of a subordinate, and I tell you the same thing to keep you from being deceived. I would gladly let you take part in our midday and evening meals, if Fanny’s weakness did not force her to eat in the nursery; I wish that you do this together with her and generally leave the child as little as possible. As for your teaching, you need to see where you can pick up and how you can get through; it goes without saying that the sick child must not be exerted; but she must not remain as ignorant as she is now.” that the sick child must not be exerted; but she must not remain as ignorant as she is now.” that the sick child must not be exerted; but she must not remain as ignorant as she is now.”
Martha listened quietly; the color of her face changed several times; but she restrained herself, and the principal’s calm and determination gave her the courage to just as calmly ask that, provided Fanny was no more ill, she be allowed to go to church once a Sunday and to go for an hour’s walk every day, what the doctor made her duty.
It was granted to her conditionally: “If the weather is good, Fanny will be taken out every day; then I wish that you go with her. Now Lucie will take you up to Fanny; I have had this conversation in the presence of my daughters, that they may know my will; my second daughter has a great tendency to disregard the necessary forms.”
Martha bowed and followed her guide up the stairs in a strange state: not agitated, not indignant, but watered down and cool to the core.
In front of Fanny’s door, Lucie turned around: “We can certainly love each other, Fraulein Martha,” she said, and Martha thought she saw tears in her eyes. She was a bit surprised at this quick concession, it almost made her embarrassed.
“Yes, Miss Lucie, but we absolutely must[p. 197]Sticking to the limits that your mother set for us; Otherwise I would find myself in a crooked and untenable position towards her.”
“Oh, and love Fanny a little; she is so unhappy with her sickness!”
“Certainly I want that,” said Martha warmly and crossed the threshold of a simple but friendly room, behind the wide window, whose curtains were now drawn, Fanny lay in her wheelchair, illuminated by a hanging lamp.
“Well, good day, dear Fanny! see, here I am; now tell me how you have been since we last saw each other!”
“Bad,” she said, but she held out her hand to Martha.
“Why bad? Did you have increased pain?”
“Sometimes too; but the electricity is so terrible, and Katharine has been so bad to me the whole time, and the maid always hurts me so much when she dresses me!”
“Maybe I can learn that!” said Martha kindly.
The doorbell rang now, and Lucie knew that this was the signal for her to leave her little sister. She hugged Fanny a little frantically to say goodbye; the pale little face twisted painfully.
“Lucie is good to me,” she said as soon as she left the room, “but she doesn’t think about where it hurts me. She can also be little with me; she still has to practice singing and drawing a lot and socialize a lot too; Mama says it’s necessary for a young lady.”
“What were you doing this afternoon?”
“What should I do? I looked at the clouds; they always take on different forms; you can imagine giants, knights and dragons making war, running after each other and eating each other; this is so entertaining!”
“Can’t you read something?”
“Oh, I can read well; when I was healthy I had lessons. But there’s always so much in the books that I don’t understand, and there’s no one there who answers me properly when I ask questions, other than Judith sometimes; but she has very little time.”
“How long have you been so ill?”
“I think for two years; I fell into the water once, hot from playing. The gardener got me out again, but I never got better; isn’t that shameful?”
“Painful, Fanny, or saddened! Do you see something[p. 199]what the dear Father in heaven sends to us, that can certainly be difficult and bitter for us, but certainly not shameful!”
“I don’t understand that, you speak like Margaretchen!”
“Who is Margaret?”
“Oh, the old seamstress who comes sometimes; she then sits there in the next room and dines with me! She also says God loves me! But why is he letting me get sick?”
“You will experience that again, Fanny! Now we can’t know that yet!”
The maid came now, laid the table and set the tea and cold dishes on.
“Are you going to eat here?” Fanny asked excitedly.
“That is beautiful! Katharine then always went over to the servants’ room and didn’t come back until the tea was quite cold.”
Martha looked at it: “I’ll bring your wheelchair close to the table, it’s more comfortable for both of us. Now you tell me how you like your butter rolls best, and I’ll set them up for you. Don’t you think that a soft-boiled egg and some raw ham would do you good? See I’m hungry from the[p. 200]Travel, I will taste it too. But first let us pray.”
“Pray?” asked the child in surprise.
“Oh, we must thank God for all the good gifts, and we must ask him that he will not leave us any longer!”
Fanny nodded seriously.
Martha simply said, “Give thanks to the Lord, for he is kind and his kindness endures forever!” Then supper began.
The little one had no fresh appetite; Martha had to persuade her to take a little; but that helped sometimes.
Wheels could now be heard rolling and various carriages pulling up in front of the house; things grew restless among them.
“Mama has company today; I don’t sleep until Lucie has brought me ice cream and sweets either; she does that every time!”
Martha doubted whether it was wise to bring the sickly child, who had no desire for simple, useful food, things that would spoil her stomach even more; but for today she still had to abstain from all interventions. She only asked: “Always lie down for the time being, Fanny. You better rest and I’ll stay here by your bed!”
The maid came and Martha had the child’s nightwear brought to her.
“I want to undress her myself today!” she said. Her light, skilful hand proved itself here too; Fanny complained little and declared herself content with her assistance.
“Are you staying the night too?”
“I don’t know about the house yet; but I think my pretty little room must be close by!”
“Maybe it’s next door, Miss Feldwart? Oh please, open the door and see if it is so!”
It was like this! to Fanny’s great rejoicing!
“Oh, don’t you, you leave the door a little, a little open? It is true that Katharine sleeps here in the small room and gives me what I need; but it would be too nice to have you so close!”
Martha gladly promised this. Nothing could have consoled her so much tonight than the conviction that she was dear and needed to the little sick girl, and she prayed to God to give her the strength to help the child in the right way.
Now there was a rustling on the stairs, and in a heavy,[p. 202]Dressed in a dark blue silk dress, very appropriately and tastefully, Frau v. Märzfeld to say “good night” to her little ones. She was really a strikingly stately figure, Martha found it particularly so when she bent over the sick child with tender pity. She looked kindly at Martha, who had jumped up from her chair to make room for her mother.
“Well, have you become friends a little together?”
“I think, madam, and I hope we shall do more every day.”
“That would be exceedingly nice to me; this little being can but little endure light and heat and noise, and yet it is my duty to live in society for the sake of her sisters. It would be a great comfort to me not to know that I was leaving her. But don’t chat with her too long, after ten o’clock she must sleep.”
“Oh Mama, today a little after ten; Lucie will bring me ice cream first!”
“All right,” said the mother in a friendly manner as she kissed the little one goodbye. “Miss Feldwart, you guarantee that it won’t be too long!”
“Please tell me something,” Fanny asked when they were alone.
“Has anyone told you from the Bible story?”
“Not for a long time now, probably in the past; I don’t think Katharine knew anything about it.”
“Do you know who Jacob was?”
“A little; I think he did not get along with his brother Esau.”
Martha told about Jacob; his exit from the father’s house; his fear of his brother, whom he deprived of his birthright; how in the evening he laid his head down on a stone, and then in a dream the ladder to heaven appeared to him, on which the angels climbed up and down.
“Oh, that must have been nice!” said Fanny. “Are there any angels now?”
“Of course! Christ says of the children: ‘Their angels always see the face of my heavenly Father.’”
“Do I have one too?”
“Certainly, Fanny, you have your angel, who watches over your bed when you sleep and protects you when you lie in your wheelchair.”
“Can he heal me too?”
“Probably not him; but the Father in heaven who sends the angel, and if it pleases you, he certainly does; we may ask him for it every day.”
“Oh, we will do that!”
The conversation was now interrupted; the murmur of speaking voices no longer came from below, but the silvery tones of a very beautiful grand piano; a sonata by Beethoven sounded, you could clearly distinguish it, although of course much of the finer tones disappeared.
“You like listening to music?” asked Fanny.
“I saw it in you; They also understand what the tones talk to each other.”
“Do you understand that too, Fanny?”
“Naturally; it is a different language than the one we use to converse; but you feel very clearly in your heart how it is meant.”
Now it was preluded; a very fresh, youthful voice sang lovely songs by Franz and Schumann; both listeners listened.
“Oh, that’s beautiful!” cried Martha.
“Be careful, when Judith sings it’s even nicer; that was Lucy!”
Yes! Now it sounded below: “Quietly, quietly, piously, soar up to the circle of stars, etc.” What noble, full, soft tones, what perfect understanding! She would scarcely have believed that the proud Judith could sing so; it came from within—there was no doubt about it! There was such warmth in the lecture that Martha listened with delight. She felt strange; she had been at home in the great sociability too long and too happily not to have the feeling that she would be quite at her place down there and that she could probably let her fresh singing voice ring out to the general joy.
“Would you like to be downstairs?” asked Fanny.
Martha awoke from her dream, which she had been dwelling on for a few minutes: “I like being here with you too, Fanny!”
‘Yes, and you’re a lot better off than me, too; You have legs and could go down, and you wouldn’t feel sick from all the noise.”
Increased movement was now heard below.
“Now it’s time to eat,” said the little one; “Now it won’t be very long before Lucie comes with the ice cream.”
After a little hour it actually appeared[p. 206]with a whole salver full of sweet delights.
“You must both feast now; these are quite harmless things, and I will stay here and watch you.”
Martha looked with great concern at the large, sweet provisions: “Won’t Fanny do any harm if she eats all this tonight?”
“Oh, what harm is that to her?” cried Lucie; “She’s only sick with a cold!”
“But we could save a little for tomorrow,” Martha began again.
Lucie laughed: “You don’t know what this little sweet tooth is!”
Martha was overruled; only when everything had been eaten and Lucie had returned to her company did Fanny prepare to fall asleep.
Martha spoke the verse over them with folded hands:
Spread both wings
O Jesus, my joy,
and eat your cake.
Satan wants to devour me
So let the angels sing:
This child shall be unharmed!
At first Fanny looked at her in amazement, then a sense of peace settled over her restless features.
“Yes,” she said at the end, “now I want to sleep; I see them going up and down, and they are already singing.”
Martha went into her little room and tried to organize her thoughts. It was not yet clear to her how things would continue here; she saw some difficulty, some humiliation for her proud nature lying in her way; but she felt very fortunate that Fanny visibly trusted her; and to win the child’s heart more and more, to ease her hard lot, to become her friend, that was a task that was well suited to reconciling her with her situation, and when at last, exhausted, she sought her bed, her confidence was so strong that God’s protection and care was over her head that she could have said with the child: “I hear it, the angels are already singing!”
The next morning, of course, the new day’s work brought difficulties enough. At first she was startled from her morning devotions by Fanny’s wails, who were supposed to let the girl dress her. She seemed to be in great pain, and Martha rushed over to see if they wouldn’t give her some relief[p. 208]could. She tried to instruct the girl to rest her aching limbs as much as possible; she also made the best possible effort, but in vain; Fanny kept screaming. As soon as Martha laid hands on her, she calmed down immediately, and although it was not difficult to see that the reason for her misery was not a small amount of obstinacy, along with the pain, Martha had no choice: she sent the girl away and searched her own through to become. “Today I must ignore the attachment,” she thought; “If it stays like this, then of course it has to be fought; but how?”
She was only 21 now. As eventful and difficult as her life had been up until then, she had always been under the most loving care until yesterday; now she should be able to stand on her own two feet under very difficult circumstances. Had Mrs. Märzfeld drew her in; if she had helped her with words and deeds, her task would have been easier to solve; as it was now, she could only count on God’s help.
Immediately after breakfast Judith came in a very clean, elegant morning suit to ask how her little sister had slept and brought a very finely tied bouquet with her. Fanny complained that she had dreamed a lot[p. 209]Martha had to confirm that she lay very restless and often sighed in her dreams.
“You could hear that through the door, Fraulein Feldwart?”
“Oh no,” replied Martha, “I left it a little open between us.”
“Is that what you wanted, Fanny?”
Judith thought a little: “That’s not possible at all; if Fraulein Feldwart is to be with you all day, she must have complete peace at night; do you hear, Fanny?”
Martha asked: “I am young and healthy and would still listen to Fanny if the door between us were closed! Maybe my poor little pupil will sleep better if she doesn’t get so much candy and ice cream that evening.”
“Well, again!” Judith said thoughtfully and left after a little while.
Fanny was peevish: “You’re just as strict as Judith, she doesn’t always want to give me sweets either!”
“Yes, Fanny, because we both wish you would get well soon; we don’t want to give you anything that can harm you.”
The first thing that mattered to Martha was to find out how far Fanny had come in the various areas of knowledge; she made very unsatisfactory discoveries, of course. She could read, but write very poorly because of her aching limbs. Arithmetic seemed completely alien to her and, on top of that, very repugnant; she also felt great dread of geography, with its many names and numbers, and she had retained only a few episodes from both secular and biblical history, which particularly appealed to feeling and imagination. Like the recent story of Jacob’s ladder, she understood this with great liveliness and intimacy; but anything that appealed only to the mind and required actual work and effort she stubbornly rejected. If her suffering had been of such a nature that one would have had to fear an early end, Martha would have thought: “Fly you, you fly up to heaven!” because Martha liked to fly herself. But apart from the fact that her own heart could hardly have grasped the thought of seeing the young flower wither irretrievably, the doctor also expressed the sure hope that she would overcome the ailment in a few years. “Then,” said Martha, “she must not only fly, she must also learn to walk,” and she tried the doctor also expressed the sure hope that she would overcome the ailment in a few years. “Then,” said Martha, “she must not only fly, she must also learn to walk,” and she tried the doctor also expressed the sure hope that she would overcome the ailment in a few years. “Then,” said Martha, “she must not only fly, she must also learn to walk,” and she tried[p. 211]in every possible way to gradually accustom them to regular activity. Here she was not allowed to proceed methodically, as she had learned and as it is usually so excellently promoted in full school classes. When, with unspeakable difficulty, she had persuaded Fanny to listen attentively and to answer four to six questions, she then declared in the most definite manner: “I can’t take it anymore, my head hurts,” and was neither kind nor serious at all step further.
Martha had to study in new ways. In conversation she began to interest Fanny in a subject and in this way tried to awaken her desire to learn more about it. She used her exits to look in the bookstores for travel or biographical accounts suitable for the child’s age, but here too the weak and spoiled pupil quickly tired. Martha soon found that it was better if she acquired or visualized as much knowledge as possible about a country, a people, an episode from history and then presented it to her pupil freely and in the most agreeable way possible. There was no denying that in this way the young teacher rose to a higher level; but it took a great deal of time and energy, and in terms of Fanny’s own efforts[p. 212]was little gained. Martha often thought, “If only one could see the line exactly where the ‘I can’t!’ into the ‘I don’t want to!’ passes over!” The faithful family doctor himself was uncertain in this respect; Even with adult nervous patients it is not easy to find the limit where one must give in to them and where one must resist them or seek to strengthen and strengthen them. Martha couldn’t get any real clarity about it; The fact that she herself was young, healthy, and lively sometimes pushed the little one to exertion, which was good for her, but more thorough help finally came in another way.
As already mentioned, Fanny was sensitive to religious impressions; but when her teacher wanted to take the usual route in the religion lesson, first going through the ten commandments with all the explanations, she again encountered resolute resistance: “I can’t do that! that is too difficult!” The approaching season of Advent naturally focused on the coming of the Saviour; In the early hours Martha went through all the promises of Christ’s appearance, birth, life, miracles, suffering, death and resurrection; and there was nothing here that Fanny did not grasp with all her heart; from here it was easy to shed light on all hitherto dark areas; a new world opened up for Fanny, one[p. 213]world of love and peace, which had remained hidden from her until now, which sent her lovely light into her suffering and into her heart and drove out all bitterness from it. With her love for the source of all love, her love for Martha, who had opened up her new life to her, grew, and the previous reluctance was replaced by the desire to do whatever she wished, albeit physically weak and severe pampering made this difficult for her, it was clear to see that she was gradually making progress. Martha was delighted that her activity was visibly crowned with success; but she required all her strength to be summoned, and she often longed for relaxation and refreshment for her own heart.
The two older daughters of the house began to arouse her interest more and more. Lucie was always graceful and friendly when she came into the sick-room; Yes, at first she had very heartfelt fits! but when Martha approached her with a gentle request whenever she wanted to shower her little sister with sweets, she became upset and so did Fanny. Only once the family doctor had spoken out very strongly against such a diet did the attempts stop, and Martha knew that his ban was prompted by Judith, who was worried about her[p. 214]shared. Judith kept her serious, reserved nature unchanged for a long time, both towards her little sister and towards Martha; but when Martha dared to suggest how Fanny’s situation could really be alleviated, it was never in vain; Judith thought about it and tried to bring about what Martha wanted.
Up until now the gardener had brought different blooming plants every week and taken back the faded ones, and Martha had seen with sadness that Fanny took very little pleasure from her lovely flower window. Judith was a great lover of flowers and was also saddened by Fanny’s indifference. When she said this one morning, Martha said: “I think Miss Judith, Fanny would be much happier if she could tend the plants and see them thrive and if she could make something bloom herself!” The very next morning Judith appeared in company of a gardener’s boy and brought with him all sorts of young plants; she had very carefully asked the gardener how each was to be treated, and let her little sister in on the secret by vividly describing to her what the blossoming and further development will be like. Now every morning there was half an hour of activity and rapt attention; the seedlings grew naturally[p. 215]not fast enough for the impatient child; but every new leaf that sprouted, every bud and blossom that opened excited jubilation.
Martha saw Lucie almost only in the presence of her mother and when she was called down to accompany the sisters’ singing; Mrs. v. But Märzfeld then managed to remove them immediately under some pretext. At Fanny’s request, Martha had sung Mozart’s “Veilchen” and some of Taubert’s charming children’s songs to Fanny when Frau v. Märzfeld entered the room.
“I didn’t know you sang!” she said.
“I didn’t talk about it because I only had classes for a single year and had to drop out before the classes were any way finished.”
‘At least I hear you’re safe, and you’re to help us out of a great embarrassment tonight. Unfortunately, Judith has become hoarse; we had counted on a duet and the first part of a quartet for her; I ask that you take her place.”
“I’d be happy to do that,” said Martha; “only I would like to sing both through again, and then” – she added almost embarrassed – “I hardly have a dress to appear in such company.”
“Nobody will ask you to do that, since you are not coming as a member of society, but as my child’s teacher, who is doing us a favour.”
Martha felt the rush of cold water again, but controlled herself. She had to sing the song with Lucie: “Oh, I would see you on the heath there in a storm etc.” Both were allowed to try it on Fanny and she was delighted: “I would like to see how happy everyone is about you.”
It was not until she was called, and very clean but dressed very simply, that Martha joined the company. Mrs. v. Märzfeld introduced her: “My Fanny’s governess!” No one was introduced to her. A young man sat at the grand piano ready to accompany her. The first notes that Martha sang trembled a little; but then the music carried her away, and her soft, supple voice unfolded all its fullness and power. Applause rang out from all sides, and when the quartet was over to the greatest satisfaction, a distinguished-looking young gentleman came up to Martha and asked: “Where did you have singing lessons, my lady?”
“In B., but only for a short time.”
“You don’t notice that; However, you sing with more freedom than a young lady who is still in the middle[p. 217]Learning is, but by no means as if you hadn’t finished school.”
The gentleman seemed to understand some music; they came up with their favorite composers, and since he spoke seriously and meaningfully, Martha was happy to answer him and enjoyed the lively conversation.
Mrs. v. Märzfeld rushed up: “Count T., maybe you can help me to arrange the seats. Miss Feldwart, your student will ask for you.”
Martha bowed and left; but it was difficult for her to talk to Fanny tonight; again and again the less than pleasant appearance came before her inner eye; she was so ashamed that she stayed downstairs even a minute after the song. She caught herself a few tears falling on her work, and yet she had to admit to herself that nothing bad had really happened to her—she was the governess; Mrs. v. March field had the right to want her to stay with her child. She had also fully convinced herself that this was nothing further than wanting to offend her, for at other times she was sincerely grateful for Martha’s efforts for the well-being of her child. She apparently considered it her sacred social duty to keep the teacher at the level[p. 218]held; but almost nothing had become so difficult as this calm, studious being driven out of the position which she had hitherto occupied in life. She had to fight hard to overcome this; It was not relieved by Lucien’s indignation about it and she thought vividly of Pastor Wohlgemuth’s words: “You will have to be small and humble, and that will be very difficult for your nature!” “That’s why God sent it to me,” thought you; “I want to take it out of his hands and be all the more for Fanny, who visibly thanks me.”
Mrs. v. Märzfeld really loved her little girl and cared for her as much as she could without being disturbed in what she saw as her life’s work, which was to serve her social standing and arrange good matches for her adult daughters. No expense was too great for her when Martha made suggestions to improve Fanny’s situation and embellish her existence. She also fully recognized Martha’s activity and her successes and sometimes even said so in a very friendly manner; just bridging the gap that she felt existed between her family and Martha never occurred to her.
One day, while Margaretchen was sewing in the next room,[p. 219]this came to speak of a poor family that had suddenly lost their father and was now in dire need. Fanny’s soft heart was touched; she would gladly have given her richly endowed piggy bank to the poor, down to the last penny. Martha made her understand that it was neither right nor nice to proceed without thinking; she promised to inquire about the urgent needs of the people herself in the morning. “And then,” she said, “we must calculate, properly calculate; because we have to keep something for mother’s and sisters’ birthdays, for the mission fund, for the rescue house, etc.’ And Fanny did the math; Here, where she had a purpose in mind, she reckoned with pleasure, and Martha hoped that she would gradually be able to improve her skills in this art, which had hitherto been very repugnant to her.
So the winter passed with all sorts of exertions, but not without fruit and not without joy. The treatment that had begun had strengthened the little patient so much that she no longer had to be lifted and carried, but was able to move a few steps independently. The days grew sunny, the roads dry; Fanny was from the servant[p. 220]went out every day, and Martha then walked beside her to draw her attention to flowers, trees, people, beautiful objects in the shop windows, and to answer all the thousand questions that the child asked, stimulated by so many new impressions she asked. She did this very willingly, but she still felt that in this way she was deprived of the only time for rest, for quiet concentration, and for reflection on her not easy profession. March freed them from these ways, but not to their delight. Fanny got the cough, and it wouldn’t give way to any medicine or other prescriptions from the doctor; she was again dependent on the room and was now, accustomed to more variety, a stubborn patient. On the first of April the maid went off to get married, and Fanny was so unhappy at the thought to entrust herself to another hand, that Martha promised to take care of her alone from now on. The child’s happiness was a great reward; but the nerves, even Martha’s strong nerves, did not willingly put up with such an overexertion; For the first time in her life she was weak and irritable, had to fight against gloomy thoughts and heartily longed for the promised move south. She wasn’t one of those people who tended to brood a lot about her physical well-being and herself had to fight against gloomy thoughts and heartily longed for the promised move south. She wasn’t one of those people who tended to brood a lot about her physical well-being and herself had to fight against gloomy thoughts and heartily longed for the promised move south. She wasn’t one of those people who tended to brood a lot about her physical well-being and herself[p. 221] attach importance; but she felt it more than she admitted how difficult it was that no one was watching her with tender, loving care and trying to help her when her features showed weariness, weariness, sickness. The spouses are told at the altar that their estate is “not without a cross”; alas, just as certainly and almost more certainly one can say of the class of a young teacher that it “carries thorns into the multitude and many a cross”. If the inner vocation and the full ability for it is present, then such hours of suffering and difficulties will be overcome; If only the desire for freedom and independence has pushed you onto this path, then severe fights arise from it, which often succumb to body and soul.
Towards Easter the family doctor came to organize the summer cure with Mrs. to discuss March field; his decision was: ‘Oh, you don’t have to go very far; take the child to Heyden on Lake Constance for a whey cure in mid-May, and if the cough is gone after about six weeks, take Fanny to Ragatz or, even better, to Pfäffers in the Tamina Gorge; then it will probably soon become stronger and more flexible.”
Martha raved about beautiful nature; she would like to be[p. 222]got deeper into the wonderful world of Switzerland; nevertheless, she looked forward to the trip with excitement and great expectations. As soon as May appeared, they set off. Mrs. v. March field had taken a whole coupé to make Fanny comfortable. On the first day they drove to Frankfurt am Main in pouring rain; the sufferer complained a great deal about pain; Martha tried to take her mind off it by telling her various things about the places they passed. But however quietly this happened, it disturbed Lucie in her travel reading, and she expressed this very clearly with astonished looks and impatient gestures; At first Judith tried to help Martha, but the monotonous gray all around, the rain falling on the window tired her, and soon she was sound asleep in one corner. while in the other the mother continually washed her forehead with scented water. In Frankfurt people had neglected to book apartments, Westendhall was occupied; late in the evening one had to drive from one inn to the next, until finally, towards midnight, one found less than satisfactory lodging.
The next morning it got lighter. Judith and Lucie asked their mother to stay in Heidelberg for a few hours and then take up quarters in Ulm; but[p. 223]Mrs. v. Märzfeld preferred to reach Friedrichshafen. All the young heads tried to see as much as possible out of the window when the train stopped in Heidelberg. Crowds of students with their big dogs could be admired if you wanted to; but from the coupe little could be noticed of the beautiful location and surroundings of the famous place. The day grew muggy, my limbs ached from the long drive; the whole company had little strength left to look at the surroundings: Fanny wept, Lucie exclaimed impatiently, Judith sighed and Frau v. Märzfeld lay exhausted in her corner. Finally, late in the evening, the voice of the conductor rang out like a message from heaven: “Friedrichshafen, get off!” when Martha said to her: “Tomorrow we will only take the steamboat across the lake, we can see the Säntis and the Appenzell mountains all in front of us, then it’s a little hour’s ride up the mountain to Heyden on the cog railway.” Martha was still awake long and sighed: “Oh; if only tomorrow, only tomorrow, there will be nice weather!”
She listened; listened: it sounded like a soft hissing; was that the lake? At first light she rose[p. 224]himself and quietly drew the curtains from the window. Gray fog was billowing outside, the windows faced a lawn, and there was nothing to be seen of the lake. “It must be very early,” she thought, lay down again and fell asleep exhausted. When the maid knocked at 6 o’clock as promised, the weather was still the same. Martha was very sad about it: she would have loved to see Mount Säntis. Fanny looked forward to the steamboat; she was calmer.
When they got on the ship an hour later, the rain that had been pouring all night had stopped and the lake gradually cleared of fog; its waves rippled in the fresh morning breeze. Bregenz loomed at the eastern corner of the vast pool of water, but the Vorarlberg mountains at whose foot it lies were still shrouded, and only twilight outlines could be seen from the Swiss shore. It was not until one approached Rorschach that the cloud cover parted, but now one was too close to the mountains to see more than the foothills. The wide, now blue pool of water was still very attractive, and Fanny in particular was happy, lying in her wheelchair on the deck, gliding so gently over to the other bank. The way up to Heyden was lovely and short. How blue did the lake appear near the village of Wynachten![p. 225]Doctor ordered an apartment, one of the older boarding houses took our travelers. Martha shared her room with Fanny; it had the loveliest view in the world. Just below the window began the green meadows, which stood in the loveliest spring lushness, now and then interrupted by wooded hills, bushes, and fruit trees, from the midst of which the bright walls of pretty houses shone; far below and yet so near, as if one could reach it in a few steps, lay like an open, shimmering, blue eye of the sea, on its opposite bank Lindau and Friedrichshafen, so clearly that one could distinguish every window; on the right the Vorarlberge and Bregenz, on the left the view sweeps over the Württemberger Land. The two girls couldn’t get enough of each other; they opened the window and breathed in the indescribably mild air with pleasure. They were to dine in their room today; then Fanny wanted to try to walk the few steps to the dining room for the snack.
A friendly, older girl in simple clothes brought good soup, beef with a vegetable of dried apples and roasted bread, and roast meat, which at first they took for roast pork because of its high crust of fat, but then turned out to be the back[p. 226]of a well fattened calf. It tasted excellent to the two travelers, and even the combination of beef and apples, which was new to them, they found quite tasty when they tasted it.
While Ms. V. Märzfeld was asleep, Judith and Lucie appeared.
“Well, one has to say that,” cried the former indignantly, “Doctor K. got us into a fine pension! Not even a waiter! The landlord waits himself; a girl with a thick, red-striped apron brings in the food—and this list of dishes! No, — and Lucie, look at this piece of furniture!”
Lucie laughed too as she looked around the room; it was painted white with a gray border and small green flowers. In the corner of it stood a mighty large, two-door cupboard, painted sky blue, decorated on the side with the most beautiful pieces of flowers and fruit in the brightest colors, in front the story of creation and the fall of man were clearly depicted. The room didn’t have a sofa, but two beds with good mattresses and an old, comfortable armchair, covered with brightly colored calico, in which Fanny sat comfortably.
“I don’t know, Judith, I like everything very much; it’s different for once and I like it much better[p. 227]than ever at home!” Martha had thought something similar; the waitress, with her good, sympathetic face, seemed much cozier to her than a waiter in tails, and a look out of the window revealed little of the interior decorations of the room.
In the afternoon Fanny went with me to the dining room; they were still alone in it today because the other guests had flown out. Mrs. v. Märzfeld looked at the tablecloth made of brown floral calico with a very dissatisfied look, but what was written on it: coffee, milk, white bread, butter and honey, that was unbeatable. Even before the unpacking started, the doctor showed up.
“My best doctor,” said Frau v. Märzfeld, after withdrawing to the common living room, “what kind of boarding house you brought us to! Shouldn’t there be a more elegant and decent one in the great Heyden?”
“Certainly we have more elegant, madam; but I think they are decent, and I don’t know of any that care for their patients more conscientiously and better; moreover, the air and the view are particularly beautiful here; I thought our young patient would be comfortable here. How about that, Miss?” he asked, turning to Fanny.
“Oh, I like it very well!” said the latter; “I don’t want to leave here at all!”
“Do you think I can leave my daughter alone with her governess with these people?”
“Certainly, they are very reliable landlords, and the maid, Anna from Upper Austria, is a real sweetheart; the sicker someone is, the more she loves them.”
“Then I shall only be here for a few days; I’m actually used to completely different surroundings!”
It stuck! On the second morning, Mum said goodbye with the two eldest daughters to embark on a longer journey to the most beautiful spots in Switzerland. Fanny waved greetings to them with her handkerchief, which they replied in a friendly manner; Martha looked after them with strange thoughts and feelings: she was still in the years when one likes to create illusions! As long as she lived, her heart had been in Switzerland, in Switzerland; and now here she was, tied to this lovely but unmagnificent spot. Since Fanny didn’t have a girl now, she didn’t dare leave her for hours. She was tied to her pupil’s wheelchair, which a servant hired for the purpose pushed out to the drinking-place every morning and every afternoon to the little grove where, for the comfort of the summer guests, one was seated[p. 229]laid out paths and benches. It was almost the only place where you could walk in the shade! It is harder than one thinks to be in the midst of such beautiful nature in full health and vigor, to know: if you were allowed to climb for an hour or two, you would have before your eyes all the glory of the Alpine world that you are looking for longed for life; and then having to rein in all that desire, yes, hide it from the eyes of a loved one who is ill!
Martha strived for this with the best will in the world; but unbidden, thoughts of which she was ashamed came to her again and again.
“Why do I have to just sit here with the little sick girl? I wouldn’t enjoy the mountains, glaciers and lakes more than Frau v. Märzfeld and Lucie, who after all only ask about external things?”
There is a small social democrat in every natural human being, no matter how hidden. You just have to take care of yourself! One is not satisfied and frugal if one gladly does without splendid clothes, fine food, and a comfortable way of life; this is not at all difficult for some natures; but for almost everyone there is a point towards which his desires are particularly keen, towards which his inmost inclination is directed; usually[p. 230]the good Lord takes hold of his children at this point in the school of life, and only when they succeed in submitting and defeating the inner rebel is there full peace in their breasts. Martha had a good role model in Fanny. Since her longing for sufficient participation, entertainment, and employment had been satisfied, one could not be happier than she was. Moreover, Heyden brought her a multitude of new impressions, which kept stimulating and cheering her up.
In the morning between six and seven o’clock the “Schottenfranzerl” – Scots are called the wheys there – came down from the Ebenalp with his hot butte, double woolen blankets between the butte and his back so that he wouldn’t burn himself. Between two and three in the morning he left the Säntis, at six he appeared in Heyden—what an arduous journey! only the strongest men could be used for it. Franz looked very handsome when he stepped lightly with his load, as if he were going to a dance; the pointed hat with the capercaillie feather on his head, under the red waistcoat the wide leather belt on which the dear horned cattle presented themselves driven in the brightest brass, a badge of his status. The whey was still too hot when it was poured out to drink it straight away, and Fanny made so much sense[p. 231]had a sense of humor, secretly amused at the different views and efforts of the guests in their enjoyment. Some swallowed sullenly and reluctantly, others as if doing the most important work of their lives; still others were joking and laughing; and the better the air and treatment got her, the greater the distances that she could now cover on Martha’s arms, the more she felt like joining the happier part of society. At first, both girls had looked at the breakfast bowl with the brown flour soup in it very suspiciously, but Anna from Upper Austria persuaded them: “Just eat it, it’s good, it’s very good!” They ate and they felt good.
On their little trips through the town, the curtain weavers who could be seen working through the low windows, mostly young girls, attracted their attention; also the old, extraordinarily neatly dressed little women who embroidered the curtains, and the skilled embroiderers who supplied the super-fine handkerchiefs and collars that were on display at the Sturzenegger. Many a rainy hour was spent there in the attractive shops, many a coin found its way out of Fanny’s piggy bank while she bought birthday presents for her mother and sisters here.
Sunday was a new joy for her; she hadn’t been able to go to church in M.; here in Heyden the innkeeper came on Sunday morning, brought each of his guests a hymnal and said they would go to church at nine o’clock. Many a guest returned the hymn-book to him with thanks; he accepted that politely and calmly; he had now done his duty.
Martha and Fanny, the latter in her wheelchair, gladly joined the procession of churchgoers led by the innkeeper. Although the rather new church had only steel bells, it seemed to both girls that they had never heard anything so beautiful as these chimes, as they rang across the blue lake in the fresh morning air; full Sunday joy moved into their hearts, and they soon learned to find their way in the full four-part congregational singing. The pastor also knew how to draw people’s hearts to the one thing that was needed, and so Fanny said that Sunday couldn’t be as beautiful in the whole world as it is up here in Heyden.
In the evening, when some of the other housemates were still strolling, some had gone to the Kurhaus to be in larger company, our two girls sat with the landlord, the landlady and Anna from Upper Austria in front of the door or in the room; the host had[p. 233]then a blue apron and together with his wife prepared the vegetables or fruit for the next day, where Martha was happy to help; there was no cook in the pension. Then the landlord talked about his eventful life. He came from Vorarlberg, had moved out into the country as a boy with whisks and spoons, had gotten to know people, regions and circumstances, and since he first saw Margaret in St. Gallen, he had become very frugal and finally made it this far brought to buy a little house in Heyden, to which he took this Margaret; the little house had become a house and a well-known and respected pension. Both girls liked to listen to him; Martha remarked that with open eyes and a healthy mind one can learn quite a lot without books.
Meanwhile the pension had filled more and more with strangers; At noon guests from the village also appeared, and since they came from all over the world, the conversation was alternately conducted in French, English and German.
Martha’s neighbor was an American who spoke to her in English. Fanny had had a few English lessons, but hadn’t managed to understand the stranger, and since he was very interesting to talk about[p. 234]used to, Martha usually translated it to her pupil.
One afternoon the stranger remarked: “Oh, I can tell the little lady in German right away.”
“You don’t speak like a foreigner,” Martha said.
“Oh, I come from Germany, of course I went to the United States when I was young, and I would certainly have forgotten my mother tongue if I hadn’t basically only spoken German with my neighbors Eichhorn and Kraus in St. Joseph.”
frizzy! St Joseph! Ah, that must be Siegfried’s uncle!
“Is your neighbor Kraus from Saxony?”
“Yes, from near Leipzig.”
Martha’s heart was pounding, she could hardly speak.
“I know some members of his family; is he alright?”
“Very well,” said the neighbor. “He got married about five years ago at his age and now has two gorgeous boys.”
It was difficult for Martha to ask any more questions; but the torment of uncertainty was too great.
“I heard he let his nephews join him!”
“This must be a mistake; I visited him before I left; he had no one with him but his wife and children, and never spoke of a nephew. Yes — wait! Yes, a long time ago, before he got married, he told me he had asked a nephew to come to his house, but the rascal would not.”
Poor Martha! She was deaf to what was said next and gave the neighbor some really wrong answers. What was that? Had Siegfried had an accident on the way? Had he heard of his uncle’s marriage and gone elsewhere? Until now, at least, she had had a destination for her thoughts, the area where his uncle had settled; now that too was over. Ah, so often she had tried to brace herself for a life without him; now she noticed how hope still lived in the background of her heart and spun its magic threads. She longed inexpressibly for a being with whom she could communicate, with whom she could cry. She picked up the pen to tell everything to Suschen; Then the postman came and brought her a letter from her friend. She announced the day of her wedding and asked Martha to think of her through intercession, since unfortunately, unfortunately, she could not be there. She couldn’t respond to this letter[p. 236]send plaintive reply; he was so happy, so radiantly happy in all seriousness.
Fanny rested on her bed, as usual after dinner, Martha crept into the green house garden; not far from the apiary was an arbor where she could cry.
Ah, her tears flowed inexorably! All the suppressed longing of the last few years wanted to come into its own. She sobbed like a child and was very frightened when the entrance to the arbor was obscured by a shadow. It was only Anna.
“Are the Misses troubled?”
“Yes, Anna, I have it!”
“Is something dear dead to you, or shouldn’t you have your darling? Tell the dear saints, they’ve often helped. Now I just don’t have time to pray; but when I come home, I want to tell Saint Anne; it is very good and already helps!”
Martha could have said she had better call on God; but Anne had such a childish confidence in the patron saint that she could not bring herself to confuse her about it; she thought: if she speaks so warmly and faithfully to St. Anne, perhaps the Heavenly Father will see it as if he had been told, and so she said: “Thank you, Anna, do that!”
But when Anna was gone, a quiet joy came over her that she didn’t need a holy advocate, that she could and was allowed to go straight to her father and pour out her heart to him; she did it, and that always helps. Though her heart did not grow light afterward, it did grow quiet and devoted, and she was able to return to her ward with warm, sincere resolution to keep the clouds and woe to herself, and to shed as much sunshine as possible on Fanny’s life’s journey. When the storm has calmed down inside, reflection and reasonable reflection come into their own again and strip what has been experienced of all exaggerations of the imagination. What had she heard that was so bad? Except that Siegfried wasn’t with his uncle; couldn’t he have established an existence somewhere else? Was it impossible for him to return to her anyway?
Much relieved, Martha picked up her student for coffee in the small hall. They found new arrivals: a very transparent and delicate-looking mother and a rosy little daughter of about thirteen; Madam President V. B. and her daughter Friedericke.
The two children looked at each other shyly, but with very happy faces. Mrs. v. B. looked with maternal[p. 238]Sympathy for the delicate girl in need of help, and after Martha made things as comfortable as possible for her pupil, she arranged for them to be introduced to each other.
“You see, Friedericke, there is a young girl just like you wished for.”
“Of course I can’t jump around with you yet,” said Fanny, “but I’ll learn soon; I can already walk from the Freihof to the bowling alley.” She looked very proud and happy.
Mrs. v. B. very sympathetically inquired about the little one’s condition and found out that she was to be taken from here to Ragatz or Pfaeffers.
“Oh, if only it were Pfäffers,” cried Friedericke; “Mama bathes there for a few weeks, and it’s so — oh so — I don’t even know how to put it — so mysterious and horrible and yet so beautiful! You actually live with the earth spirits themselves. Oh, Fanny, always ask that you come to Pfäffers; it will be so very nice to have company there.”
Friedericken’s lively descriptions were all designed to increase Fanny’s desire for this wondrous world, and she hoped to persuade her mother to comply with her wishes.
It was very amusing to see how the two children grew closer every day. Friedericke soon knew of no greater desire than to perform all the small services that her weak companion needed, to lead her to her room by her arm or to fetch her from it. Fanny was very happy to put up with it, but the wish awoke in her to be able to repay it, and when the president one day looked longingly at her handiwork, which lay on a distant table, she got up quietly and unnoticed and felt with inner joy that it was no longer too difficult for her to fetch it and bring it to the owner. She looked surprised and very pleased, but the child positively glowed with delight; it was the first time she had been able to do anyone any service.
Of course, the lessons had to be given more freely here than at home, but Martha had never completely dropped them. Now asked Mrs. B. whether Friedericke should not be allowed to participate; she was of course much further along, but at least objects could be found that interested both children equally, and Martha thought that the community was a wonderful spur for Fanny.
Mrs. v. March field and her daughters had often sent word; they had visited Lake Zurich, the Vierwaldstädter[p. 240]Lake with its beautiful surroundings, spent several days on the Rigi and have now been in Montreux on Lake Geneva for a few weeks.
“But now,” wrote Lucie, “let’s take the next route. We long for the child and a little more peace and will arrive in the course of the next week to move to Ragatz or Pfäffers with you.”
Fanny rejoiced, and Martha too, although she had to admit that her life would not continue to be as pleasant as it was now, was sincerely looking forward to showing her mother and sisters the progress. which had meanwhile made the child’s recovery.
A wonderfully beautiful day rose over Heyden after several rather unfriendly ones; all the mobile pensioners decided to take a tour of the quays, guided by their host; there should be a magnificent view of the mountains up there. Martha’s heart beat with great desire. An hour before dinner Frau v. B. call them.
“My dear Miss Martha,” she said, “I have a big request. My child has been here for weeks now and hasn’t seen the mountains yet. I would like[p. 241]so glad to allow her the walk today, but don’t let her go alone with the strange guests. Your little pupil is also burning with desire to give you the pleasure of the mountain journey; and so we came up with the idea that we wanted to swap this afternoon: you take my wilde under your protection when climbing the mountain, and Fanny comes to me as my daughter until you come back.”
This was tempting. Martha probably had concerns: “If only I had Mrs. March field can ask!” But that was not possible. Fanny and Friedericke begged and urged; she herself was convinced that Frau v. B’s supervision plentifully replaced hers. Oh, and she was so happy in anticipation of the mountain view—she relented and went with it. The innkeeper led up the mountain slope in such a way that on the way you had no other view than Heyden; the path was mostly very steep and often without shade; the sun was beating down, but the view beckoned, and the company endured the hardships with cheerful cheer. Now through this bush, now up this edge! and Martha stood on top and put her hands together and her eyes filled with tears, for in their narrow frame they embraced a picture,
There they lay opposite her, the snow fields of the Säntis; there towered its gigantic neighbors, the Kamor, Hohekasten, Altemann, Tödi into the blue air; further east the Vorarlberg and Lichtenstein mountains; in the distance the white chain of the Rhaetikon with the Sasaplana. On the other side, the Thurgau stretched out along the wide, blue lake with Trogen, Vöggeliseck, and Speicher; above them, far in the distance, Mount Pilatus and Mount Rigi.
“Oh, if I had wings, if I had wings!”
Friedericke next to her jumped up into the air and let out a whoop, as if she had learned it from the herdsman; Martha couldn’t speak. Oh, this one picture, wasn’t it enough to illuminate many a lonely hour with its light for the rest of your life? She saw and saw; she would not have wanted to lose any of it, not even the smallest.
“Come behind the stone and have a Schöppeli Markgräfler!” the innkeeper called again and again.
The advice was good, but it was a long time before our young companions made up their minds to tear themselves away from the splendid view and seek rest and refreshment. Then it was comfortable to sit in the shade after the exertion, to refresh oneself with the refreshments we had brought with us and to have cheerful conversations with our fellow travelers[p. 243]to lead. The company became very merry, and no one noticed that the sky had changed, until the voice from the clouds began to speak audibly. Then, of course, everyone jumped to their feet; once more the review was enjoyed, but only very fleetingly. The weather was coming up from the Rheinthal, and the innkeeper said it could be “a right” weather; from there it is often not possible to cross the lake: “We have to keep to the alpine huts!”
This was done without hesitation; they weren’t too far below the mountain peak, and with the first heavy drops one was admitted into the room, which was not equipped with conveniences but was at least dry and protected. It was very good to have a roof over you; the rain fell in torrents, pattering on the clapboard roof and against the small windows; the storm roared as if it wanted to take the little house with it; a bright, glaring flash chased the other and the thunder rolled majestically through the commotion, his voice pausing for no more than minutes as if to catch his breath. The company silently listened to the great music; even Friedericke, who loved to laugh so much, seriously snuggled up to Martha. These, outwardly composed and calm, was tormented inwardly by worrying about Fanny’s anxiety and, as a result, about her health. She looked with longing[p. 244]after the little strip of sky, which could be seen, whether it would not be getting lighter—in vain! If the storm was silent one minute, the next it roared with increased violence; if the voice of thunder seemed to sound further away, it rumbled from another corner all the closer. Hour after hour passed: soon the darkness of the falling evening joined the darkness of the sky and finally the darkness of the night.
Then it finally got quieter; The thunder rolled farther and farther, the lightning shone paler and paler, the drops only fell one by one on the roof, and then you couldn’t hear any more.
The door of the hut was opened; A few stars peeked through the torn clouds, the air was indescribably beautiful and fresh, but the whole mountain was just one big waterfall. The innkeeper and the milkmaid declared it absolutely impossible to go down before it was daylight. The latter fetched fresh milk and offered to bake Schmarren if you wanted. It was accepted with thanks and happily eaten, only Martha felt it on her chest like an alb and she cried out several times: “Oh, how scared you’ll be at home!”
“I don’t think so much,” Friedericke said. “Mummy[p. 245]know that we are in God’s protection and with men of understanding; Anna will certainly tell her about the alpine huts and she will imagine that we are here. Be careful, she also comforts Fanny and doesn’t let her go.”
It all sounded quite likely, but it was her conscience that robbed her of confidence; the whole experience seemed to her like a punishment for her infidelity and she could not paint the consequences of it black enough. The preparations for the night’s rest were somewhat difficult; the company consisted of about ten people. The gentlemen had to settle down near the hearth with their plaids, the women were put up in the hay; It was very warm there, and a fat, no longer young lady, to whom the dairymaid had assigned her own bed, was moaning incessantly, while two young French women couldn’t stop laughing. Friedericke soon fell asleep; Martha sat, worried, asked God for forgiveness and called on him for help for her pupil, and only[p. 246]advised. It was a fresh, beautiful morning. Torn layers of cloud flew across the sky, driven by the wind; in the valleys here and there a veil of mist still swept to and fro; the mountain heads, as far as one could see them here, were free, and the little piece of lake that showed up shone in the freshest blue. It trickled and rustled from every crevice, it shimmered and shone on every blade of grass; the cows that were just being milked roared for freedom: it was a laughing morning picture; only the path which led down still looked very slippery and uninviting.
Martha and Friedericke wore good mountaineering boots, but some of the older folks sighed heavily and looked down the slope with horror. After one had refreshed oneself with fresh milk, it went down with many alas and woes, with many falling and getting up again; only our young friends kept their feet firmly on their feet and were sometimes able to reach out a hand to despondent souls to help them through critical areas. The herdsman had just finished his cupbearer’s office when the hikers turned into the streets of Heyden.
The landlady met them at the door; she seemed the absence of husband and guests with great[p. 247]to have endured equanimity; it must have happened before.
Martha flew past her up the stairs and quietly opened her room.
With a loud, happy cry, Fanny stretched out her arms while the President rose from the armchair by the bed and looked indescribably watched and miserable.
“You see, my dear child,” she said, “God has kept our family.”
Friedericke, who hadn’t found her mother in her room, had also come in and was hanging by her neck.
“You must have had a really bad night,” Martha exclaimed when she saw Frau von. B. “Oh, how I blamed myself for leaving.”
“Yes, my little charge could not be brought to rest at all,” she replied, “so I had to make up my mind to stay by her bed; but I find it superfluous for us to blame each other; the matter was well thought out; we had no way of knowing the storm was coming. Come on, little tomboy, take off your wet clothes and we’ll both try to get some sleep. Do the same, Fraulein Feldwart!”
Martha would have gladly followed this advice, but Fanny was still too excited: “First you have to tell me everything, everything!”
Martha did it and tried a remedy that had often helped her in the care of the irritable child: by holding Fanny’s hand in hers, she talked in a very monotonous voice, getting broader and slower and softer; it had the effect of bedtime music, calmed down the child’s overwrought nerves, and after half an hour it slept so soundly that Martha found the rest she had longed for.
A few hours of quiet sleep had completely refreshed her; She got up quietly so as not to disturb the child, but saw with great concern that Fanny’s face was redder than usual and her chest was heaving with unusually rapid breathing. In fact, when she awoke, it turned out that she was not free of fever; the doctor summoned advised that she should be left in bed to-day and have complete peace about her. Around noon, Martha received the telegram announcing the arrival of Mrs. Märzfeld reported for this afternoon. Fanny really wanted to get up to receive her, but she felt at once that it was an impossibility. Martha was very upset about this. How should she face her mother when Fanny[p. 249]got sicker, how ever to calm down? Her heart pounded as the expected entered. It seemed to her the only atonement to tell her mother immediately what had happened. She did, but she did not fully; she didn’t mention how she had been persuaded to do so by the President and Fanny.
Mrs. v. Märzfeld looked down at her, very surprised: “I wouldn’t have thought you capable of that, Miss Feldwart! You see what comes of your recklessness; Fanny’s whole recovery may be at stake.”
Martha wept: “Yes, madam, it is supposed to be a very bitter lesson for me; I will never, ever leave Fanny again!”
“I very much hope so; I could never leave you alone with the child any other way.”
It would probably be from these appearances at Frau v. Märzfeld had a cold that lasted until the evening, if the president had not been introduced to her in order to explain to her how the matter was going. She willingly took all the blame on her shoulders and didn’t refrain from saying openly that it was actually a duty to allow such a self-sacrificing being like Martha a sigh of relief and a rest. The President moved in the highest circles; you[p. 250]was a very respected personality, who also appeared noble on the outside; so her words did not fail to make the intended impression, all the more so when the next morning, after a quiet night, Fanny was pretty much her old self again.
Her mother and sisters were astonished to see her mobility, with even more her cheerfulness, her humor, the liveliness with which she took an interest in every topic of conversation, and this must have thrown a friendly light on Martha’s care and upbringing.
“And now,” said Frau von Märzfeld, “I also want to tell you great news: We have a bride in the room; guess who?
Fanny’s eyes had already seen the gold ring on Lucien’s hand with amazement; she cried, “Lucie, Lucie! but with whom?”
She was engaged to Count T.; he had met them at Lake Geneva, had stopped there after a few days for Lucie, and she said “yes” with a warm heart, happy and surprised.
Martha was surprised too; she had often seen Count T. in the family. He had always made her a serious and trusting impression, but he always divided his attentions evenly between the two sisters,[p. 251]and it was generally believed in M. that he would become engaged to Judith, who was the older and more important of the two. Martha understood that he had chosen this warm and graceful being who now seemed to be a radiantly happy bride.
Judith looked very serious and was almost more unapproachable than usual. Mama said the groom had gone to Ragatz to get an apartment there.
“But Mama!” cried Fanny very unhappily, “I want to go to the Pfäffers!”
Friedericke stood by: “Oh yes, please, to Pfäffers, we’ll go there too, and we’ll live there with the little earth spirits, they’ll make Fanny healthy again!”
Mrs. v. Märzfeld laughed: “Let’s ask the doctor!”
He thought Ragatz might have the same effect; but there were many sick people who thought the baths so near to the spring more curative. The facilities in Pfäffers were very good, and he advised Frau v. Märzfeld to start her little patient there; If it turned out that she was missing air and sun too much, she could move to Ragatz any day.
When an apartment was ordered for Martha and Fanny in Pfaeffers, everyone explained, mostly to Martha[p. 252]Surprised Judith, she would like to go to Pfäffers, she had wanted this for a long time, and added very resolutely: “We can then take turns caring for Fanny and each of us can go for a walk every now and then.”
If a bit of heaven had fallen, Martha could not have looked more astonished. She had had several opportunities to convince herself of Judith’s sense of justice, and of her care for Fanny; but kindness and consideration for her—this was quite new to Martha. She must have been pretty close to the truth when she suspected that it might not be easy for Judith to live in the immediate vicinity of the bridal couple. But there was another reason. Judith didn’t love Count T.; her heart was not touched by his engagement, her pride all the harder; she felt neglected and humiliated and began to feel a little for others who were experiencing the same thing. Martha’s influence on Fanny, and especially her cheerfulness and patience in caring for her, filled her with respect; Mrs. v. B. s open outpouring of heart had completely opened her eyes; she came to the conclusion that she had not treated Martha as was fair and kind, and it seemed her honor to make amends as much as possible.
Martha and Fanny would have preferred to be alone with the President and her daughter; but Fanny recognized the friendly intention, and Martha knew that God assigns us the people with whom we should live and that we have to answer to him if we push them away with coldness and indifference; so they both met Judith’s wishes in a friendly manner.
The journey through the beautiful Rheinthal gave everyone the greatest pleasure, especially the two who had not traveled before. You can see the mountain giants towering on both sides: Säntis, Kamor, Hohekasten, Altemann salute; on the other side of the valley the Austrian mountains rise steeply, while the green meadows of the valley delight the eye and in the background the Kalande closes the view.
Fanny kept cheering until the train stopped in Ragatz and the new brother-in-law lovingly lifted her out of the car to greet her as his little sister. When they had refreshed themselves a little, the guests should first be brought to the spot for the Pfäffers. Two carriages were taken; In one sat Mama with the bride and groom, in the other Judith, Martha and Fanny.
What a wonderful path, almost horrible in places! The road is won from the rock; she leads close to[p. 254]banks of the Tamina. This roaring, white-foaming mountain water therefore flows over black-brown rocks; in some places so deep under the narrow road that it can get a little dizzy for those driving on it. High, almost vertical cliffs rise up on both sides, pushed into and in front of each other in such a coulisse-like manner that one always feels as if one is enclosed in a narrow basin. Streams of dust, divided into millions of small, fine, luminous droplets, pour from its height into the Tamina with such graceful, daring swing that they form a brilliant arc over the road, under which it remains completely dry. Sunlight still glowed and trembled on the rocks above, painting the rolling veils of water rainbow colors,
Fanny snuggled up to Martha with glowing cheeks; she was a little afraid between the foaming abyss and the rigid rock.
“Oh, how big and beautiful!” said Martha.
“Yes, this is really big,” replied Judith, “awfully big! I’m a little dreaded here; You too, Martha?”
“No!” she cried seriously and confidently. “I know the one who founded this earth and tore apart this rocky gorge, who called for this water and caused it to rush down, he is my father, holds me in his loving, strong hand and has counted all the hairs on my head. It’s so comforting to think, you get so quiet and still want to sing psalms from the bottom of your heart.”
Judith looked at her seriously and wistfully: “I’m different, I have the feeling: the same violence that caused these cracks to appear thousands of years ago can shake them again at any time; I feel as if heaven and earth could be torn to pieces, and I already feel their trembling, as it were.”
“They will one day,” said Martha kindly, “but then the new heaven and the new earth will come, where everything will be just peace and joy.”
They no longer spoke, but Fanny had snuggled tightly in Martha’s arms; she looked and looked, tender red bloomed on her cheeks and her eyes shone. Judith’s eyes, too, grew larger and more serious, and sometimes the lids drooped to cover up tears. It was strange to everyone when the car ahead came at such an angle to theirs that one could hear cheerful conversation and happy laughter; and yet this went naturally[p. 256]to: the bridal happiness outshined even this magnificent scenery. When it comes to the effect of external impressions, everything depends on how it looks in the little mirror of the heart in which they are reflected.
When you got out in front of the buildings of Bad Pfäffers, which, wedged between the rock walls and now just reached by the last ray of sunshine in their upper half, made a more gloomy than pleasant impression at first sight, the occupants of both cars looked at each other questioningly; the whole thing was very much like a natural prison. But they were ushered in friendly, first into the rooms intended for the new bathers. In the middle was a larger shared living room, on the right a bedroom for Judith, on the left one for Martha and Fanny. The rooms were comfortably and cleanly furnished and the future residents declared themselves satisfied with this.
The bathing facilities were found to be particularly clean and nice, and when one entered one of the meeting rooms to enjoy the coffee there, a distinguished-looking gentleman with white hair stood up at the head of the table and introduced himself as General E. from Württemberg , at the same time as the brother of the dear President, who meets with him here every year and whom he will meet tomorrow around noon[p. 257]with her daughter Friedericke. The acquaintance was quickly made, and when Frau v. March field left with her bridal couple, the three who stayed behind sat trustingly next to their new protector, talking and listening as if they had known each other for a long time. Even Judith gave up her rigid nature to the South German ingenuity. The walk into the gorge, in which the healing springs spring, was postponed until tomorrow, because they didn’t want to do it without Fanny, who was exhausted from the trip, yes, possibly also without Friedericke, who had been looking forward to it in Heyden. to show her friend these miracles.
As darkness fell fully, very different figures appeared in the drawing-room; only a few seemed to belong to the higher classes; the wealthy part of the peasant population from Switzerland and Upper Austria was well represented, and Judith looked around at this environment with not very pleasant looks. Her astonishment increased when she noticed the unabashed, familiar, cheerful tone in which the general talked to the people and responded to all their interests.
“Here,” she thought, “it will be difficult to keep one’s position,” and as a portly, friendly Austrian[p. 258]she asked: “Wouldn’t it be too boring for the beautiful young ladies here?” he received such a short, negative answer that Martha was glad when Fanny’s tiredness forced them all to retire to their room.
When Fanny rested, Judith and Martha sat together in the living room for another half hour.
“Isn’t it terrible here?” cried Judith; “A man like that presumes to address me without my allowing him to do so! And this general! Belongs to the top districts in Württemberg and speaks to these people as if they were his own kind!”
“I believe, Miss Judith, bathing life brings with it a freer tone in a completely natural way; all are here for the sake of their ailments and infirmities, all seek help from the same fatherly hand and from the same source, all are confined to a small, narrow space. But if you look closely, you will find that no one dares to do anything intrusive or clumsy to the General; For all his affability he is such a truly noble appearance that no one can forget or misjudge this towards him!“
Judith sighed; she had also thought that she was an elegant person and was very dissatisfied with the first evening.
Martha found her charge with wide open eyes.
“Just listen to how the Tamina rustles!” whispered Fanny. “Oh, please, read another psalm or a song to ‘Good night!'”
Martha picked up the Bible and read Psalm 121: “I lift up my eyes to the mountains from which comes help to me; my help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth” – to the end: “The Lord protect you from all evil, he protects your soul; the Lord will keep your going out and your coming in from now to eternity.” Then she prayed the verse:
When the waves are mighty
In the gloomy night
wants to cover the heart’s little ship,
Do you want to stretch out your hand;
take care of me
Guardian in the night!
Martha went back into the living room to get her work and there she found Judith standing in the middle of the room, leaning thoughtfully on the large oak table. Now she looked up and said almost softly, “If you’re reading with Fanny, don’t close the door, or let me be there!”
“Oh, how gladly!” cried Martha with all her heart; she wanted to shake hands with Judith, but she had already disappeared into her bedroom.
Yes, Judith felt that her existence lacked proper refreshment; By observing her little sister, who was ill, she had recently gotten an idea of where to find her, and she was not a superficial person; what she once grasped, she used to grasp seriously.
The next morning Fanny took her first bath, and both Martha and Judith were delighted with the beautiful white tiles in which the baths were set, with the whole soothing and elegant furnishings in this apparent seclusion, and with Fanny the pleasant effect of the water felt grateful, her two keepers decided to get this refreshment and refreshment of the nerves as much as possible.
Around noon the president and Friedericke appeared, warmly welcomed by the dear old brother and uncle, cheering by Fanny. Immediately after the table came, as she had promised, Frau v. Märzfeld and her bridal couple, and it was decided to take the path into the gorge before coffee, which is so smooth, safe and close that even Fanny, leaning alternately on Friedericke and Martha,[p. 261]could participate without hesitation. This gorge, from which the hot springs rise, is indeed a sight as magnificent as it is horrible. The rocks here come so close together that below there is room only for the foaming, roaring Tamina between them, and above it a path resting on sure supports, or rather a long bridge, which leads to the hot springs, which can be seen from afar announced by their white steam, which seems to assume the strangest shapes in the wonderful light of the underworld. The rocks are so close together at their upper end that only a small gap remains open to let in the light of the sky, and at one point the path to Dorf Pfäffers even leads across this gap. If you make the cuts If you carefully compare corners and edges on either side, it’s easy to see that they fit together perfectly, and it’s as if a mighty finger has pushed these walls apart a little to make room for the rushing mountain water. Friedericke and Fanny held each other tightly when the Fiihrer drew their attention to it.
“It must have been a bang,” said Friedericke, “I wouldn’t have wanted to be there!”
When you got to the hot spring, it showed up[p. 262]Door to a tunnel dug into the rock to get more water. But since it was of course hot and dark in there, no one refrained from visiting him. Depressions were noticed in the rock on both sides, as if to form a log.
“Here,” said the guide, “a small house used to stand floating above the spring before a path led into the gorge; the sick were let down by ropes from above, provided with food, and only pulled up again when the cure was over.”
“They were all with the earth spirits,” said Friedericke.
“And I’m afraid they didn’t have as nice honey and grape raisins for dessert as we did this lunchtime,” added Fanny.
Both, honey and raisins, are not only part of the cure in Pfäffers, but are warmly recommended by the doctors and are therefore always available in abundance and unusual goodness, which had Fanny’s full approval. She was quite satisfied now that Friedericke was with her; they played, read and studied together, as much or rather as little as Martha found advisable during the cure; Fanny took the little walks on Friedericken’s arm, what[p. 263]she could perform and which the doctor urgently wanted to strengthen her. They built up a whole fairytale world in their imagination, every ledge, every depression had its meaning for them.
“Up there, where no one can get, by the protruding peaks and edges, there is the dwarf’s castle, that’s where they look out and sunbathe. There, where the deep hole goes into the rock, lives the earth spirit mother; she is peevish, you can hear her growling when the wind blows. In the white vapor above the spring the Tamina elves dance; they are so fine that one only sees their veils blowing.”
Or they made up whole stories about sick people who were let down by ropes, how afraid and terrified they were, and how the dear dwarfs came out of the rock to comfort them.
Martha worried whether such fantasies would not get on Fanny’s nerves; but she slept soundly and soundly; she no longer needed to be forced to eat, and she was able to extend her walks with each passing day. Contrary to the assumption that a rose can only get its beautiful color in the sun, a rosy shimmer came to the pale children’s cheeks, and a ray of youthful joy and wantonness came into the dull eyes[p. 264]Martha delighted. She herself also felt empowered and completely at peace. Since the gloomy experiences in Heyden she had given up all impetuous desires for great excursions and was grateful for the little walks that Judith’s friendliness made possible for her.
The relationship with Judith greatly aroused her interest; They were very slowly getting a little closer, and from what was revealed it seemed certain that there were still many hidden treasures slumbering in this soul that only needed the right dowsing rod to come to light.
A rainy day brought a greater or lesser trial, depending on the peculiarities of the guests; thank goodness! there weren’t many that summer. When the clouds hung down between the rocks like dark gray curtains, the lamps in the corridor and the common room were not allowed to go out all day, the bathers were either confined to their room or confined to the common room, there was a great temptation to catch crickets. Such a day came in the second week.
Judith had just been busy with her wardrobe, now she followed Martha and Fanny, who had finished their lessons, to the meeting room. sat there[p. 265]the General by lamplight, playing a game of chess with the President; there women from all classes and countries had grouped themselves around a long table with their handicrafts; A group of peasant owners sat there and talked about traffic conditions, fruit prices and politics. The young ladies took their places at the women’s table, since Fanny and Friedericke claimed a small, special little table for themselves in order to act out the strangest stories with their fashion dolls. Martha soon got into lively conversation with her neighbors.
The theme after the first acquaintance in seaside resorts is always the same: the ailments and illnesses for which everyone here seeks help and healing, and this theme is presented by different personalities in just as different variations, but it still touches on the same basic chords in the hearts and leads to compassion, joy and easy understanding.
In addition to the various sufferings and individual bitterness and despondency, Martha also found a lot of humility, patience and trust in God, and listened with pleasure and hopeful to stories about some successes that had been achieved with God’s help through the use of these sources.
When the chess game was over, Frau v. B.[p. 266]in the women’s circle, and Martha was amazed at how she knew how to talk to the simplest women, how to win their trust, how to comfort and advise them. The general had gone to the men; here a very lively conversation ensued about meadow and forest culture, tillage and the like; depending on whether the speakers came from different regions and backgrounds, the views differed, and there was often a danger that the conversation might turn into a quarrel. Then one always heard the general’s calm, sure voice, which explained, mediated, and to which they all seemed to submit.
Judith was extremely bored. The light fell badly on their fine work; she had dropped it, leaned back carelessly, yawned several times without noticing it, and frustration and tiredness were reflected on her otherwise beautiful face in such a way that an old Bavarian, who had been watching her unnoticed for quite a while, came up to her : “Are you angry, Miss, that our Lord God is pouring? Doesn’t help you anyway; that’s why he won’t let it go; It doesn’t bother him if a young girl frowns!”
Judith gave him a big look and looked down on him; she did not answer, but left the hall immediately afterwards, and[p. 267]when Martha and Fanny followed her later, they found her in the worst of moods upstairs, still in the dark.
Fanny was now always very tired and soon fell asleep; when Martha quietly entered the living room, Judith walked up and down there with long strides. Martha sat quietly with her work at the table by the lamp and waited for the rest.
Finally Judith stopped in front of her: “Now tell me, Martha, how is it that people take such things against me?”
“But, dear Miss, how can I know?”
“Why doesn’t anything like this ever happen to the General and the President? You said the other day that he was so elegant; I don’t think so at all; he speaks to all peasants as to his own kind. If you know where his distinction is, tell me!”
Martha thought a little: “May I speak frankly, Miss Judith?”
“Yes, please; and just do n’t keep saying ‘Miss’; I’m very bored of you, you know!”
“It’s a difficult question; let me think a little. On the one hand it is probably really the predominance of experience, knowledge, education, what people[p. 268]feel without realizing it; but I think the reason for the general respect is, above all, that the two old gentlemen have themselves completely under control; that they are very advanced in self-control and unselfishness; I think this must always precede one’s attempt to impress or dominate others. They show no vulnerability to people and, dear Miss Judith, they never pretend to want to force respect; in such situations as ours is here in the small bath, that so easily provokes contradiction!
“Oh God,” Judith sighed, “if only life with these people weren’t so boring, and not only with them, but also with my acquaintances in M.; I envy anyone who can have a good time, but I don’t get it!”
“I wish,” said Martha warmly, “you understood; You of all people, dear Judith, would be so happy and be able to make others so happy if you once began to take a warm interest in your fellow human beings, their sorrows and joys, their ideas and thoughts. They love to read descriptions of foreign peoples and countries, and yet these are often wonderfully colored by the author’s peculiar glasses. I much prefer reading[p. 269]a book as lively as we now have before us; you can learn a lot from this! Just try; I hope the satisfaction is found!”
Judith stood in deep thought for a while, then said kindly: “Good night, dear Professor! I’ll think about the lecture,” and disappeared into her room.
The next morning a similar subject was discussed between the General and the President.
“I like to associate with all kinds of people,” said the former, “you get to know a lot of things that you don’t come into contact with otherwise. But I still don’t know how to get close to people as well as my Georg does; when the boy comes, you shall see your miracle!”
“When my Georg comes!” The girls had heard this word from his lips so often that they looked at each other with a slight smile when it came back. As a result, “my Georg” had gradually become a person who was looked forward to with some excitement.
One evening, when it was particularly nice and warm, they walked in the Tamina valley, the children first, Judith[p. 270]and Martha, as has often been the case lately, arm in arm.
Then a young wanderer turned around the corner of the rock; a tall, strong and yet agile figure, the light summer skirt unbuttoned, the scarf loosened, the straw hat pushed back on the neck, revealing a wealth of light brown curls and a cheerful, lively face with sparkling brown eyes, a healthy, somewhat tanned colour, merrily laughing mouth and a dimple in each cheek; a not very full beard surrounded the rounded chin.
Judith looked at him in astonishment and was annoyed with herself that she had involuntarily thought of a word that she had always found very silly from the lips of her acquaintances: “A young God!”
The “young God” gave her time to look at him, because he had stopped several steps in front of them by Fanny and Friedericke, had lifted the latter up and kissed them without any ado, which was accompanied by the cheering cry: “Cousin Georg! dear cousin Georg!” was replied.
Then he leaned towards Fanny: “And here is a little lady who walks a bit lame. Have you gone a little too far, little wood nymph?”
“I think so,” said Fanny in a tearful voice.
“May I carry you?”
Fanny looked at him doubtfully; but he lifted her lightly on his arm as if she were a feather, and proudly went with her to meet the two ladies.
“Now I am your knight and you are my lady!”
“A knight! a knight!” exclaimed Friedericke. “We have earth spirits, dwarves, elves; now we also have a knight—and a knight George; it’s just a pity there isn’t a dragon!”
Friedericke introduced him to the two young ladies; he had a cheerful, friendly word for everyone, and since they had to turn around for the children’s sake, they entered Pfäffer’s baths as if in triumph with what they had been expecting.
Of course he was greeted warmly by his father and aunt, but he hadn’t been there for an hour, so it was as if a fresh wind had blown over the whole company; he chatted with the old people, laughed with the children, arranged a walk to the Kalanda show and the village of Pfäffers for the next morning, and a tour to Ragatz and Chur for the day after tomorrow; According to Judith, Martha was to take part in the first, she wanted to join the second herself, and it was hoped that Frau von. Märzfeld will take part with the bridal couple from Ragatz.
Everything became life and movement. “My Georg” was the owner and administrator of the family estate, which was located in southern Germany; his conversations with the country folk were much more thorough than those of his father; he made himself agreeable to women by kind errands, little inventions that added to the pleasantness of life; He liked to talk to Martha and Judith about books, pictures, life in the residence, etc.
The latter sometimes seemed a little unfathomable to him, but he was visibly tempted to investigate her nature and to set this beautiful, proud face out of its calm and solemnity. This succeeded all the more often because Judith really began to be ashamed of her arrogance and to look with sympathy at the society that surrounded her. How much loveliness and grace she gained in this way, she did not notice herself, others all the more so.
When the next rainy day tied the company to the house, “my Georg” started talking about “Schuhplatteln” with a young Upper Bavarian who was visiting his mother; It turned out that both of them knew and could do this Upper Bavarian national dance, and when evening came, Judith and Martha were besieged to perform it with them. An elderly bather offered to accompany us on the grand piano. The girls didn’t want to; they had never seen it before.
‘Oh, you have nothing to do with it but turn around as gracefully as you can while we shoe-plate; in between we’ll turn you around, as it should be.”
“Yes, but modestly!” determined Judith.
It was promised and was a great pleasure for everyone at first. The two dancers were agile, practiced, and strong; it was not at all difficult for them to slap the soles of their feet with the palms of their hands as they jumped up and perform all the strange movements required for the dance. There is a fair amount of noise; some nervous ladies escaped, but all the other guests formed a circle and watched the rubber men happily and with excitement. The Bavarian danced with Martha, “my Georg” with Judith. At first they kept themselves within very modest limits and gently turned their ladies around in circles, but when George came into the fire, had he forgotten who he was looking at? that Judith was not an Upper Bavarian country girl? With a swift grasp he seized his lady firmly by the waist,
There he stood, ruffling his hair and looking utterly miserable and miserable. The president was angry, the general patted him on the shoulder: “It’s all right, that’s from the impetuosity!” and Martha hurried after Judith. They raged in two voices, in the best harmony.
“No, that is not acceptable! This is beyond description unseemly! A nobleman must have so much in his power that he does not forget with whom he has to do! There must be punishment for that, that’s for sure!’
Judith’s first thought was to escape to Ragatz altogether. But no! he wouldn’t care in the end, or he’d hardly notice, or he could pride himself on having driven her away! No, they wanted to be completely cold and completely alien to him, so that he would realize what a terrible person he was. Tonight they didn’t want to go down again, but tomorrow morning, at breakfast, he should experience it!
Martha was only surprised that Judith suddenly burst into tears; this was very unusual for her.
“But, Miss Judith,” she comforted, “it’s not that terribly bad after all; everyone saw that you couldn’t help it!”
“Yes, but that he! just him!”
“Now that’s not really that surprising,” said Martha calmly; “One can already credit him with such a little rashness; He certainly didn’t mean to offend you.”
But Judith could not be consoled; Even the word of God and the lovely evening song: “The day is gone now”, which she had always loved and valued recently, could not be grasped today.
The next morning she went to the coffee table with her head held high.
“My Georg” was already there; he saluted, a little embarrassed, but respectfully and kindly, and received a proud, stiff bow in thanks. He spoke cheerfully from the brightened sky – and received no answer! He suggested a morning walk—Judith and Martha assured them that they had letters to write. After coffee he approached as if to ask forgiveness—as soon as Judith noticed, she went out and Martha followed her.
“That’s unbearable today!” said the old general; “You see, Georg, that comes from your stupidity! Ah, Agnes, see if you can straighten it out.”
The president as a friendly aunt really went and[p. 276]knocked on the Märzfeld living room, while Fanny and Friedericke stayed at the coffee table, chatting happily.
Martha and Judith sat across from each other very seriously; each had a large sheet of paper in front of her and dipped pen in hand, but neither was in the mood to write; the blue sky looked in so tempting; the regret of having to hold anger grew steadily and Frau v. B. was received by them with great tenderness and reverence, since she brought with her the hope of a change in this unpleasant situation, along with her otherwise loved one.
“Dear children!” she said, “I don’t come to defend my naughty nephew, but to ask you, dear Judith: don’t take it so hard here in the freedom of the mountain wilderness and don’t spoil us all the couple friendly days of togetherness! In the end it wasn’t a crime worthy of death, and I think he’s been punished quite well; I haven’t even seen his good eyes smile today; at least allow him to say a word of apology to you himself. Come down now and accompany us on the walk. See how kindly the sun smiles; we are not allowed to catch crickets there!”
Yes, the sun was very tempting; she gilded the edges[p. 277]the rock opposite, and Mrs. v. B’s voice counted for a lot in the small company. When Judith saw the criminal wandering down the valley from the window, she thought he wanted her company just as little as she wanted his, and silently put on her hat. They slowly followed the company in eager conversation, until Martha noticed that Fanny and Friedericke were having fun close to the edge of the Tamina, and worried hurriedly to them. Judith now joined the President, but saw with horror that Georg and the Bavarian were waiting at the next rocky corner of hers, and stayed behind, apparently to tie a small bouquet out of the fine stalks, mosses and herbs that grew in the crevices in the rocks grew.
How did it come about that Frau v. B. went ten steps ahead with the Bavarian and she was alone and abandoned facing the dreaded George, she never realized that.
He looked at her less embarrassed than serious and sad: “Miss Judith, won’t you allow me to ask your forgiveness for last night? I’m so sorry to have forgotten myself and offended you, but—”
“Mr. E., there are no buts here! A nobleman must have enough control over himself to be conscious[p. 278]remains with whom he has to do; I wouldn’t have thought you could forget that!”
“Oh, Fraulein, I haven’t forgotten that for a minute; that’s it!”
“As? You knew who you were dancing with and dared to insult me like that?” cried Judith, changing colour.
“More and more misunderstandings!” he cried; “Now, Fraulein, I must explain it properly to you. Please stay and listen to me patiently!”
She had just made an effort to escape. A glance around convinced her that this was not quite possible; her friends walked in front of her, and some distance behind her the stranger part of society. So she carried what she could not help with decency, and walked beside him with bowed head, drawing figures in the damp sand with the tip of her parasol.
“You see, Fraulein Judith,” he began, and it lay like a veil on his otherwise fresh voice, “since I’ve been here, I’ve had the warmest interest in you; I was sad when you sat there so stiffly and happy when you laughed, and on the first evening I thought: ‘What a joy it must be to make you as happy as other young girls are. they think[p. 279]not how happy I was when you gradually became freer, fresher, and more at ease; I was tempted to help more and more. When I persuaded you to the dance last night, I thought I was over every difficulty; I thought I wanted to lead you through life and spread sunshine around you, and I saw you before my eyes, you, whom I love like no one else, as beautiful, as cheerful, as happy and exhilarating as God originally intended placed in your nature; oh Judith, I thought we were so far! Then an inner storm of joy seized me; I had to rejoice; I had to swing you in the air. O Judith, dear Judith, can you forgive me now?”
She walked beside him, the big muslin hat shaded her face, but George saw that she was wiping a drop from her eyelashes with the handkerchief; but he did not know what it meant to him, not that it was the words, “You, whom I love like no other,” which moved her heart so much.
“Judith, just tell me one word, just that you’re not mad anymore, just that I can hope a little bit! You see,” he went on suddenly, more in his old cheerful tone, “I really need someone to pull me, because I’m a tomboy, but you are like that[p. 280] understanding! Doesn’t the task of improving me, dear Judith, appeal to you?”
She still said nothing; he continued: ‘I know I ought to be more serious about these things, but God only knows how serious I am; he also knows that I am counting on his support when I promise you: I want to be your faithful companion! Now, Judith, if you don’t want to talk, give me your little bouquet of flowers!”
Timidly she handed it to him; she opened her eyes; there were tears in them, but a ray of happiness transfigured them.
They now saw the others coming towards each other. Georg hugged his aunt: “She’s well again; ah, aunt!”
“Well, boy, don’t crush me; I’m too old to be swung through the air!”
Everything now went its natural course. While Judith and Martha were having a very emotional conversation, George poured out his heart to his father and was very surprised that he was so unsurprised by what he said; then he hurried to Ragatz to Frau v. Märzfeld, and when she came over in the afternoon with her bridal couple, the newly engaged couple were introduced to the astonished bathing party, but at the same time it was determined that Judith, Martha[p. 281]and Fanny were to move to Ragatz the other morning, which the mother now rightly seemed to be appropriate.
“I thought so yesterday,” said the Bavarian, “it’s a pity that she isn’t his bride; we think it’s good luck when someone swings theirs quite high.”
It was difficult for everyone to say goodbye to the Pfaffers, but it was greatly relieved by the prospect that the General and his son, and the President and her Friedericke, would follow them in the next few days.
Martha was delighted with both Judith’s and Lucien’s happiness, even if times came when she had to fight her longing for Siegfried. Luckily she didn’t have much time for that; because now Fanny’s direction and supervision was in her hands alone again and Mrs. v. March field for the many considerations and concerns, which this double engagement brought with it, only found a support in her, her strength and time were amply taken up. Her position in the family had become quite different; the love of her daughters for the young governess, the freer and fairer views of the sons-in-law about their position, the example of the general and the president all had a mitigating effect on Frau von von. Märzfeld’s behavior, and although Martha[p. 282]kept the outward respectful form with the right tact, her position to the whole family was more that of a dear, close relative than that of an inferior. In the few weeks that were still destined for the stay in Switzerland, nice excursions were made, partly in carriages, partly by train; since Fanny was no longer too weak for it, everyone took part, and so little by little Martha got to see a beautiful little piece of Switzerland; Yes, on the way home they stopped for a few days in Heidelberg, which had been the goal of their dreams from childhood.
After returning home, or rather already on the way home, there were serious discussions about what should happen to Fanny, who was now almost completely recovered. Count T. and the General, who had observed her most impartially, strongly advised that she be taken to a reformatory with other children as soon as possible; she must get to know the happiness of working together and relaxing together and should no longer be the center of the house as before.
Madam President suggested that she go to the same pension[p. 283]near Dresden, where Friedericke had been for a number of years. This seemed sensible and good to everyone, and it was decided that Martha should prepare her for entry into the same with more thorough instruction over the winter.
Mrs. v. Märzfeld then offered to stay with her as a companion, but Martha declined with a friendly thank you. She had always feared alienating herself from her special profession by treating Fanny more liberally; if she left, it was clear to her that she had to look around for a place at a school.
While she worked diligently with Fanny and now gladly took part in the smaller gatherings of the house, all sorts of letters and newspaper advertisements were sent out, and before the new year she was promised the position where we found her at the beginning of our story.
She could only with warm gratitude from the house of Mrs. March field divorce. How difficult it was at first, how easy it became! How cold everything seemed at first, and now she felt so warmly surrounded by friendship and love!
Her tears flowed, as did the others, when she took leave; but she firmly believed in her[p. 284]heart that God would also lead her by the hand in her new situation, and said quietly and confidently as she drove along alone and the loving faces that accompanied her to the station disappeared from her eyes: “In God’s name!”