Buchenhof a clock struck the third hour in the morning

Heinrich Raschdorf lay awake in bed. In the twilight, silver writing gleamed from the wall: “The father’s blessing builds houses for the children.”

The restless man closed his eyes and spoke to himself because he had to speak.

Who was to blame lay dumb and cool over there. His poor soul was gone. And life belongs to the pure. That doesn’t smash anything: no anger of friends, no sister’s curse. No bad blessing comes down to a pure life, not even from a victim.

So Heinrich Raschdorf fought against his sensitive heart. He fought in vain for a long time. Downstairs the hoarse clock struck four times, then five times, without lessening the young man’s agony. It was not until morning that he fell into a heavy slumber.

When the day had long shone into the room, Heinrich Raschdorf woke up. It was past ten o’clock. He hurriedly dressed and immediately went over to the Kretscham.

[272]

“I slept through it, Stenzeln. How are you? What is Lotte doing? ”

The Stenzeln went to the dresser.

“She’s sending a letter, she’s in town. At seven already. She has to get the mourning things. And the gentleman is in his room and won’t come out. There is the letter! It’s a pity how the kid looked this morning. ”

Heinrich tore up the envelope and read a sentence. He swallowed hard, wiped his eyes with the back of his hand and went to the window with the letter.

“She! – She! – She! – – Stenzeln! – – There – there – she’s gone – she’s gone, Stenzeln! ”

“Mr. Raschdorf! Jeses, what are you talking about? ”

“Stenzeln, she’s gone! She won’t come back! She won’t come back! ”

“Oh God, Herr Raschdorf, oh God. That’s not possible – what – ”

He pushed her aside and stormed up the stairs.

“Mr. Schräger! Open up! ”

The door boomed with the beating of his fists.

A groan came from the room.

“Open! I’ll break the door! I really knock the door in! ”

The door opened.

“There – the letter! She is gone! She writes that she doesn’t want to marry me! She won’t come back! That’s crazy! That’s totally crazy! ”

He stared more obliquely at the maddened young man with a pale face and wide-open eyes.

[273]

‘That’s how you talk! Speak a single word! Do you know that she is gone, that she will not come back? ”

Panted more obliquely.

“Yes!”

‘You know? And you don’t tell me anything? Do you let them go? You let me sleep Man!”

He raised his fists against him. Crouched more obliquely.

“Because of my Gustav! Just because of Gustav, ”he stammered.

“Where?! Where is she going? ”

“I – I don’t know.”

“That is not true! This is a hoax! That’s a lie! I want to know! Where is she going? Where has Lotte gone? ”

“She – she didn’t tell me.”

“Where is she ?!”

He screamed that.

“I don’t know, really, I don’t know! I can’t help it! I can’t help it! ”

Heinrich Raschdorf stood before him, trembling. For a few seconds he had to fight with himself not to mistreat the man, not to wrest his confession by force. But then he threw back his head, dug his hands into his pockets, and walked quickly through the room a few times. Finally he sat down on a chair, diagonally opposite.

“I want to be sensible, I don’t want to scream, I want to take everything on myself, but you have to tell me where she is going. It is very clear that you must tell me that. She is my bride after all! ”

[274]

“Heinrich, I don’t know! She wants to go far. And I’m supposed to sell the economy and then I’m supposed to come. ”

“Where should you come?”

“I don’t know. She won’t write that until much later, she said. She’ll look for a place first. ”

It went quiet. Heinrich Raschdorf stared at the old man with a motionless face. The door below was opened; – two men stomped into the hallway and sat something down.

“Good day! We bring the coffin! ”They said.

The old man heard it and put his hands over his face. “I wish it was mine!”

Heinrich heard nothing of any of this. After a while he got up.

“And she left nothing for me but the letter?”

“Then nothing!”

“Say: Can you swear to me that you don’t know where she is, why she’s leaving, even before the funeral? Can you swear that to me? ”

“Swear?! No, I don’t swear! No! But I don’t know where she went I asked her myself; she said I’d tell you, and that’s why she didn’t tell me. ”

“Farewell, Herr Schräger! I have nothing more to do here. ”

“Heinrich! Mr. Raschdorf! Stay a little longer, stay a little longer! It’s terrible to be alone. And then – I have a request that Lotte gave me. ”

[275]

“What?”

Slanted face turned fiery red and the water rose to his eyes.

“What kind of request?” Urged Heinrich.

“Buy from me – buy my economy from me. I – leave them to you for half the money. ”

The tears ran down the man’s face, and you could see how he uttered the words with terrible pain and difficulty.

»Your economy? Lotte wants that? ”

“Yes! I promised it in her hand. And if I don’t, I won’t see her again. ”

Heinrich was not immediately able to say anything. Only after a while did he ask:

“Why does she want that?”

“She thinks because you – because the Raschdorfs were harmed by us – I want to say by our poor Gustav.”

“So yes! And maybe also because she abandons me without saying goodbye. I’m supposed to get an economy at half the price. I should get a severance payment. ”

He laughed bitterly. Not only did she go without saying goodbye to him, she parted with an insult.

“Mr. Schräger, I don’t like your economy, yes, you can breathe a sigh of relief! I don’t like them for free! It is still too expensive for nothing. If Lotte oppressed her conscience, then she should have known that there was only one compensation for me, and that was herself. An economy is no good for me. On the contrary![276] If you want the Buchenhof, want it dirt cheap, you can have it today or tomorrow. Today or tomorrow, the sooner, the better! ”

A very faint, stray glow flashed through the old landlord’s eyes; it immediately went out again.

“The Buchenhof? Cheap? – What use is it! It’s too late It doesn’t work anymore! ”

“And didn’t Lotte tell you when to give you news?”

“Yes! At least in a year! I had to give her a thousand marks. As long as that lasts, she doesn’t write. ”

“Farewell, Herr Schräger! Have a good time! ”

“Stay a little longer, a little bit.”

“No! I have no time. I’ve spent too much time here. Good luck for the future!”

He went down the stairs. He held on tightly to the railing and yet swayed and stepped heavily.

Downstairs from the hall there was shuffling of steps and hushed speech. They put the dead man in the coffin.

Heinrich did not turn around, and when Stenzeln came and grabbed his sleeve in the front door, he shook her off.

Over in his living room he looked around.

There he was! There he came again! He came from over there, came back home.

His laugh echoed eerily.

“That’s nice! Is it nice at home! ”

[277]

Slowly he sat down behind the table and leaned his hot head against the cool wall. The eyes stared blankly at the ceiling; the mouth was a little open. It lay on his forehead like a heavy numb. A gray spider crawled out of a corner, paused on the ceiling just above him and stared at him eerily with its immobile eyes.

He sat at the table for a long time without moving. Then he walked heavily through the room, took Lotte’s letter out of his pocket, opened the oven and threw the letter inside.

“There, you bloody Wisch! There you burn, burn like sulfur! Oho, there is the word “love”! Do you see how beautiful a lie burns? O yes! And now it’s good, now it’s over! ”

He sat on the stove bench. He thought of his father’s hunting rifle. It was two courses. One cartridge was shot, the other was still in place. In the end it would still be useful. What a shame about such a cartridge when it has been stuck in a barrel unused for years!

He looked over at his father’s picture.

“Yes, you – we have lovely neighbors! There is something to get, something very specific that nobody needs twice! ”

Half an hour passed. Horror, pain, anger alternated in his soul, there was a huge astonishment over everything, the astonishment that a person could act like Lotte, the amazement that a person could meet such a pitiful fate as him. –

[278]

The courtyard door opened and a man’s head was visible in the window – Mathias!

Heinrich didn’t move and didn’t say a word either, when there was a soft knock on the door. Mathias opened it carefully and entered.

“Heinrich!”

He didn’t move and looked at the floor.

“Heinrich, Lotte sent me to you! She wrote me a letter. ”

“So? You too? You can laugh there! My letter is already in the oven! ”

Mathias came up to him and put a hand on his shoulder.

“We have to talk to each other, Heinrich!”

“Talk? No! I do not want! Do me a favor and go again. What are you coming back I can’t use anyone. Not you either! Really not! Don’t look at me like that! It is annoying to me! “

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