A gray autumn morning came

The syringes and all the curious onlookers were gone. Mathias Berger and August Reichel carried the last chest from the garden into the house. As they picked up the heavy box, Berger saw that a broken wooden cross lay underneath; it read: “Here our dear chicken rests.”

There was nothing to be seen of the rule. The woman was in bed seriously ill, and the master was in a room[62] locked in. Magdalene Raschdorf lay on a sofa in damp clothes and slept. She had red cheeks and laughed in a dream. Two paces away, Hannes had bedded himself on the bare hallway and lay motionless as a dead person.

Heinrich stood outside in the rubble. A girl approached him and looked at him for a long time with big dreamy eyes.


“You – oh, it’s you, weird Lotte!”

She came closer and looked him in the face with deep concern. He lowered his eyes and pressed his lips tightly together. He wanted to control himself. Then she took his arm and leaned the blond girl’s head on his shoulder.

“I’m sorry about you, Heinrich! I cried all night. Your mother was with us and cried like that. ”She sobbed.

He could not hold himself there any longer; a convulsive, dull scream came from his mouth.

“Lotte! Now – now we no longer know where to go. ”

And he wept bitterly.

“Heinrich – dear Heinrich!”

There was a good, comforting tone in that voice.

After a while he calmed down. He took Lotte by the hand and pulled her with him to the overturned cart on which his father had sat that night. There the two children sat down and huddled close together.


Heinrich said in a strange voice: “Yesterday, when I was driving up there, up there on the street, and saw our farm, I was so proud and wanted to show it to everyone I knew in Breslau and say:” You see, this is ours . “And afterwards my father said we were bankrupt and that we burned down that night.”

He shivered and the girl moved closer to him. In a whispered voice she said: “Just be quiet, Heinrich! Father says I’ll inherit our house and our fields one day. Afterwards I’ll give you everything. ”

The boy didn’t move. But it went warm through the young body. Slowly he turned his head and looked at Lotte, who looked up at him for comfort with large, beautiful eyes. And there he leaned over and kissed her solemnly on the mouth.

“When I grow up, I will marry you, Lotte.”

He said that firmly and firmly.

The girl smiled happily. “But you gave the beautiful ring to Liese as a present.”

“That was only because I was ashamed of Hannes and Mathias. I actually wanted it for you. ”

Then they sat in silence. It was a dreary autumn all around, and the wind was blowing over the ruins, playing with rubble and dust.

Then the girl looked down the village path.

“You, Heinrich, here comes your grandfather!”

“Yes, it’s him,” said the boy. “He had to ring the fire that night. Just think, Lotte, what it is, to walk across the churchyard at night and up the dark tower[64] climb. And then he looked from the tower at the fire with his old eyes and certainly thought of my mother. ”

The girl put her hand over her eyes. The boy too looked sharply again.

“Look, Lotte, grandfather comes so quickly, and otherwise he gets so hard to breathe – and back there, who’s coming?”

“That’s the sergeant, Heinrich!”

“The sergeant? What does he want?”

“What does he want?” Repeated the girl indecisively.

Heinrich got up excitedly. “I want to go in, I need to know what that means. Go home too, Lotte, there is such a dark cloud over us and it is starting to rain! “