Mathias put both hands on his shoulders

“No, old Heinrich! I’m not going! I’m definitely not going! I’m not going at all! ”

Heinrich shook off his hands.

“Aren’t you going any more? Because of me! I don’t care! So hold on! ”

Mathias went to the table, took a chair and sat down.

“You know what, Heinrich, I thought about it on the way here – you have to go!”

Heinrich raised his head and looked briefly and shyly at the old man.

[279]

‘Away? Right! I have to go! You’re right.”

“Yes, at least for a year. You have to go to Breslau! Get away from the hole where you get sick of life. In Breslau you had to have fun or study a bit or kill money, it doesn’t matter, just you have to go! ”

Heinrich laughed.

“Don’t be mistaken! I’m going, going, but to Wroclaw? No! Don’t be mistaken! ”

“There’s nothing to be fooled about! You are a very botched customer, Heinrich! You are not suitable as a farmer, you don’t get along with any people, the old foreman and sister run away from you, the bride is also moving out – at most you fit into the big city. There you would still be considered a state guy, there are many buttons like you are! ”

Heinrich looked up.

“Don’t you know a few other jokes, Mathias?”

“They’re not jokes, Heinrich! Look, you can take poison on that: the vast majority of people are extremely stupid. Me and you especially! I old ass move out because something doesn’t suit me, and you young fellow is sitting where most of your bad luck is smeared for you. And I tell you: the weird Lotte has ten times more brains than you and I put together. ”

Heinrich laughed scornfully.

“Yes, you have to say that!”

“You really have to say! She has a character! That’s one who don’t think of herself. By contrast, we’re all smart guys. And the worst thing is that I only learn to see where she has gone. That’s a gorgeous girl, Lotte! ”

[280]

Heinrich got up from the stove bench.

“I want to know what the use of this silly talk is. In reality she’s a stupid goose, or religiously crazy, or something – all the same! Because her stupid brother set my father’s barn on fire, she runs away from me and makes me unhappy. So she atoned for it! Well, man, don’t you see that that’s insane ?! ”

He laughed until he shook himself.

Mathias looked at him mildly.

“A little bit of ranting doesn’t matter, Heinrich. But I tell you: if you were to kill yourself, you’d be a smack! ”

The young beech farmer started wildly.

“What?! As?! Who says that! Mind your own business? What? Do you have something to tell me? You?!”

“Nope! But I would like to advise you something: Go to sleep a little! ”

“Mathias! Are you drunk? How did you get such stupid talk in my current situation? ”

‘It would be very good for you if you could sleep a little, after all they could talk to you afterwards. Whether you want it or not, it doesn’t matter. We also finally have to offset each other. Who knows what will become of you and I don’t want to get my money. ”

The beech farmer looked uncertainly at Mathias.

“These are excuses! It’s not about the money. I understand you already! ”

[281]

“It’s nice if you understand me! Yes, I won’t go off your neck until you sleep, or until you have different eyes again – not such! Understand me And you can’t throw me out, no servant lends a hand, and you’re too weak on your own. I’m not going out of my way, Heinrich, you can do what you want. ”

Heinrich Raschdorf went to the window with dogged anger. The man wanted to deprive him of his mood by talking. He noticed that.

»Mathias, you haven’t found me since then, why are you coming now? I don’t need you, I don’t want you! I want you to let me do what I want! I don’t accept any more teaching from you, you understand! And if you really want to stay here, I’ll go! ”

“If you go, we’ll go together, Heinrich,” said Mathias, getting up.

The young beech farmer sank angrily on a chair.

They quarreled until about two in the afternoon. Around three o’clock Heinrich Raschdorf actually fell asleep on the sofa. He hadn’t slept properly in three nights, and it was like heavy numbness on his brain.

Mathias sat down in the armchair by the window and watched over him. Through the seriousness of his face a smile shimmered at the victory he had won. After a while the conductor came pacing into the room.

[282]

»Pst! Don’t act like that, man! ”

The Schaffer took off the wooden clogs and picked them up.

“Is it true?” He asked softly, pointing with the panties first to Heinrich and then to Kretscham.

Mathias nodded.

“Yes, she is gone! Because her brother lit the fire, she thinks she can’t come to a Buchenhof as a woman. She has too much sense of honor. ”

A pantine fell on the floor for the Schaffer.

»Pst – man! Hold your slippers tight! A must sleep! ”

“A is wull – a is wull – completely disperate um a Kopp?”

“Yes, but you better go out! I’ll tell you tonight. ”

The giant obediently bent down to pick up his lost slipper and crept out of the room.

The evening came. Mathias was still sitting in the armchair and looking at the sleeper, sometimes very worried, but then again with all his tender love. It was his good, dear Heinrich! He had missed him badly in the few weeks and never found the courage to go to him again. Now he can look at it without any resentment. The Liese is at peace. The only one of all who is at peace! The others are all scattered abroad.

Now it was very dark and Heinrich was still asleep. Outside the wind whistled through the branches of the trees.

[283]

Then the door opened softly. A dark figure appeared and stood motionless.

“Who comes? Whispered Mathias.

A low sob came from the door.

“Mathias! It’s me!”

“Lene! You?”

He went over, took her hand, pulled her down the hall and carefully closed the door.

“Where are you from? What do you want?”

“The – weird Lotte wrote to me. I’ll get the letter this afternoon. ”

“You too? Come up with me, Lena; Heinrich is sleeping in there. ”

They both sat together in the gable. Lene lay face down on the table. Mathias read the letter.

Dear Fraulein Raschdorf!

An unfortunate woman is writing to you. I became your brother’s bride because I loved him and because I firmly believed that the accusations you and Mathias Berger made against my family were unfounded. With the death of my unhappy brother I have gained the sad certainty that I was mistaken and that you were right. That’s why I’m giving up the engagement because I don’t want to break into a house that has been so badly damaged by my family. I’m going abroad and, when you get this letter, I’ll be far from home, where I never want to go back. I’m leaving because you[284] Brother would try anything to change my mind because I feel too weak, to resist in the long run, unable to face him even once more, and because I couldn’t be without cheating on him. For the sake of all the grief you have experienced through us, I beg your pardon and beg you to return to your unhappy brother, since he cannot and must not be alone now.

Charlotte Schräger.

Mathias Berger pushed the letter back and turned red in the face.

“Lene, we have wronged her. So – like that one will seldom be. ”

The girl did not answer; she just sobbed hard. After a while she said:

“She has to go back – she has to go back to him!”

“Don’t go, Lene, don’t work! Nobody knows where she is, not even her father! ”

And in the two people what is as old as the world was fulfilled again: In all hostilities of the children of men, it is the noble deed alone that finds victory, that passes over into the enemy camp, looks at the opponent with mild, magnetic eyes and, while she confuses and dismayed him, gently but irresistibly taking arms out of his hand.

The two were ashamed of each other and of themselves. Then they sought consolation: they would not have known better.

[285]

They talked for a while, then went quietly down to the living room. The lamp was on and Heinrich was sitting at the table. He didn’t look up when they entered.

Lena stopped at the door again; then suddenly she hurried across the room and knelt down in front of the table.

“Heinrich!”

He looked at her in surprise.

“Lene – what do you want here?”

The girl was unable to speak a word.

Mathias took Heinrich around the shoulders.

“Be good, Heinrich! Lotte wrote to her. She can see now that she has done Lotte wrong, and so do I. ”

Heinrich laughed.

“That is all that can be for you to see it! That’s just in time. After everything has broken, see it! ”

“Heinrich, leave me here again, leave me with you again!” Sobbed Lene.

“No! Whoever runs away does not need to come back! Nobody! Not Mathias, not you and not those over there either! There was no need to do so secretly; I wouldn’t have fetched her. And I don’t need you anymore! I don’t need anyone! ”

Lene rose.

“Should I – should I really go, Heinrich?”

“Yes!”

“No, she ain’t going, and I’m not going either! We are staying here. Tomorrow morning if you want we will go.[286] Not now in the weather and at night! You can’t ask for that! ”

Heinrich did not answer. So both sat down at the table. Everyone was silent for a while, then Mathias said:

“Heinrich, don’t you want to tell us what you’re going to do?”

“Is not necessary!”

Mathias said nothing more. He knew that the young beech farmer where it worked terribly would speak of itself. So it happened. After a while he jumped up and raised his arms in the air.

“I have to go – go, go from this miserable, accursed house – or – or -”

“Heinrich, look, it would be good if you could talk to us sensibly. The best thing is, you sell a farm and until you get rid of him – ”

“Should I stay here? Here? Not a day! Not half a day more! ”

“I say that too. You have to leave soon! Tomorrow! And that the economy is not alone, Lene and I stay here until we get rid of them. Then we’ll send you the money and you don’t have to worry about anything else, not even about us. ”

Heinrich listened to this, and a conversation took place in which Mathias Berger spoke almost entirely by himself, but in the course of which he managed to direct the young beech farmer completely to his plans.

[287]

So on the next day Heinrich Raschdorf said goodbye to the Buchenhof. He was pale, otherwise no expression betrayed his excitement. He only spoke to Mathias and Lene about purely business matters. He would soon send Mathias a power of attorney to sell the Buchenhof.

Shortly after noon he gave the order to the worker to harness. He himself stepped into the living room again.

“You will send my clothes and books after me when I have written you my address!”

“Yes, Heinrich!”

“Otherwise everything stays here! You can do an auction. And if you want to keep something to remember yourself, you can anticipate it. I do not want anything.”

“Yes, Heinrich!”

He went through the room again and looked out of the window for a few seconds. Then he turned.

“Farewell! The conductor will be ready. ”

Lene burst into passionate, loud weeping, and Mathias, pale, clung to the corner of the table.

Heinrich stopped in the middle of the room. His chest heaved a couple of times, then he shrugged and walked quickly out.

The sledge slid inaudibly out of the wide-open gate of the Buchenhof, which a servant soon locked.

Heinrich Raschdorf drove along the mountain path with his eyes closed; only when he got into the forest did he look up.

[288]

Now there was nothing to be seen of the courtyards, nothing of the village. It was all buried behind him down there in the snowy valley. He only saw the place where he had once picked her lilies of the valley. There was now a snow jump. And the little fountain, which at that time sang so sweetly through the midday silence, was dead and still.

A while later a tower rose. The train station was near it. There the iron rails ran out into the white, hazy distance into the world.

Yesterday she – today he! Each his way! A lot of rails run from the same place, which no longer cross at any station in the world.

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