November storm had risen sharply and treacherously

Hissed at the clouds like a vicious steppe wolf a herd of white, black and piebald steeds, so that everyone ran confused, bumped into each other and huddled in fear and everyone was in great distress while they were first, foremost, were torn by the monster. But then the herd had gathered, had advanced against the enemy, had pushed him back, slowly, step by step, and crushed him when it hit him on the ground.

Now the sky horses lay tired and safe in fields and meadows, and a person who went out had to push himself through between their white and gray bodies.

The living room of the Buchenhof lay in gloomy, gray light. Heinrich Raschdorf was alone. Long was[235] he went up and down for himself; now he was leaning against the stove and looking out into the foggy day.

In the uncertain light of the gloomy November day, the beech farmer looked terrifying. The eyes were deeply sunken and had a sickly feverish glow, the cheeks were colorless and withered, and the whole figure was dull and slack.

That came from much grief during the day and long waking hours at night. It came from loneliness, it came from the fact that Heinrich Raschdorf had only recently become completely homeless.

Lene was gone.

Once he tried to deal with her again, to explain everything to her. It had been unsuccessful. It was just that both had fallen into new anger, and the gap between them had widened.

So she left home. She stepped out the door firmly and safely and got into the car without looking back.

She also hadn’t shed a tear on the whole trip. So said the servant. Only with Mathias down in the village did she stay and stay for over an hour.

Mathias hadn’t come up since that time, and Heinrich hadn’t looked him up either. A bitter arrogance had seized him, which comes as a helper to all those who believe they have been unjustly condemned.

What did he do? He had not become disloyal to himself and to his best feelings. Therefore had[236] they leave him, all leave in a few days. Sometimes he laughed when he thought about it.

So be it! So he would submit to it and give no one a good word, be as dead to all of them as they were to him.

Solitude caught him, but it brought him no peace; it only tied his soul so that he had to endure all the torments without resistance like a sick person strapped to a bench, cut and burned.

As long as he was out in the field it was bearable, but in the empty house he was often seized with horror. And when the evenings came he would sit alone and be afraid of his own flock.

Then he said there was only one place in the world where it was terrible: this home.

He often reconsidered his fate. He had lost his home without guilt, had suffered, fought, and feared for a new home, found a few of the millions on the big, wide earth who meant well with him, and lost these few again.

Why? He brooded over it. If he felt a grudge against his former people, then he was still fine. There was a feeling of strength in his tired, lonely soul. But hours came when, next to the gray, silent woman Loneliness, that other sat at his stove, her daughter: repentance.

These are the tormentors. The old, ugly, skinny mother loneliness holds the poor tight with her spider fingers,[237] binds every limb, paralyzes every muscle, encloses his mouth and ears so that he cannot scream, run away, get help, and meanwhile your cruel child, repentance, is playing a bestial game, stabbing and scratching, burning and cutting , presses the heart together with rough hands, reaches through the forehead into the head, loosens there thread upon thread, tears the strands of will, tarnishes and drives the images of clear ideas and pours a creeping, deadly poison into the flowing feeling. Anyone who does not pull himself up with energetic strength, tossing the old woman aside, tearing her bonds apart and escaping to healthy, happy people, is lost. In the best case, the old woman calls a new daughter: melancholy, an inept, sick woman with lame hands and sad eyes,

Heinrich Raschdorf held still. Sometimes he stretched his limbs a little against the gang, but when the gloomy November came, he gave himself up discouraged.

They were good, dear people. They were gone. Hence it was his fault, he was the bad one, she the righteous. In this circle, after all, his thoughts kept moving.

So he stood leaning against the stove, while the white mist was brewing outside. He hadn’t spoken to anyone since noon. And then it was only a servant whom he asked something.

[238]

Where was his strength, the courage that he still had when he spoke to Mathias and Lene, the defiance with which he finally let his sister go?

The loneliness had worn him out.

Now he went to the window. Perhaps that he saw someone go by. That would do him good. And then – over there lived the girl for whose sake everything had come. When Mathias and Lene had left him, there had been a wild pleasure in him for hours, a feeling of freedom, the thought of being released from a false home, of having the opportunity to look for happiness now, his only, his true happiness.

How did he love Lotte! Her image had not left his soul since that May day, which he had done to cover it up. A staggering joy had seized him every time he saw the girl, and whether he fought the feeling like temptation and sin, it came again and again, always in deeply secret sweet delight.

And now, as he looked over, he saw her. Dressed to go out, she stepped into the front door and peered over at the windows of the beech courtyard. Heinrich wanted to step back into the room, but she had already seen him. So they looked in the face, probably for half a minute. She stood motionless and there was something searching about her gaze. Then she bowed her head a little in greeting and went down to the village.

Heinrich got very excited. The hour was when he raged against the chains of loneliness. With a thousand arms it waved him out of this terrible one[239] Home that wasn’t home, that never had been.

It came over him like an intoxication; the anxiety fell away from him like a dead junk, the blood flowed young and fast through his veins again, and the will tightened to the decision: Follow her! Go to the young, beautiful girl! With her is salvation and happiness!

He found the hat and tied a collar.

The old Doubt grinned at him warningly.

He looked out from behind a picture of his dead father. –

He stood still. He didn’t dare look back. It seemed to him as if all his people were standing at the door of the room: Lene with angry, defensive arms, Mathias with a silent plea in her good eyes, Liese with a sad face, and in the background, outside in the dim hallway, the shadowy dead: Father and mother.

Discouraged, he sank into a chair and moaned loudly. And loneliness went and closed the door, took his hat off his head and sang its monotonous, dead song.

But she was wrong. She sang the song a shade too gruesome, a little too harsh, a few degrees too sneering. She sang it unbearable for those who had to listen to it.

“I can’t take it any longer; and if it were under a thousand curses – I’ll go after her! ”

With a few steps he was outside. He stormed through the autumn mist with red cheeks. The blood roared in his heart and head. The fog enveloped him, he could not miss the way into the village.

[240]

So he ran, chased like someone who is on a desperate flight, or someone who is chasing after the last, saving salvation that he thinks he is losing.

Now – now the figure of a girl emerged from the mist. A few more steps, then he recognized her clearly.

“Lotte!”

The name sounded like a scream through the still air.

She turned around, startled. With long strides and a glowing face, he came closer to her.

“Lotte – don’t be angry – I have to go after you – I’m going crazy alone!”

“Heinrich, oh God, Heinrich, what is it with you? How do you look?”

“Do me a favor, Lotte, say” You “to me, as before; be a little friendly! I can’t stand life like this anymore! I perish! ”

“Heinrich! Dear Heinrich! ”

She looked at him pityingly with her beautiful eyes, and he stood before her trembling, trembling; his breath was difficult, his eyes glowed, and she was so beautiful, so wonderfully beautiful, and then he tugged her into his arms without a word with an anger and ardor like the animal grasps its victim from painful hunger, and covered her face with furious kisses.

He held her tight as if with iron arms; as a drowning man clings to his savior, so he clung to her, and with all the feverish hunger of a greedy soul he kissed her. His face changed[241] himself, his eyes took on a strange, eerie glow; all the passion that had been suppressed for years broke through, all the burning thirst for happiness and love wanted to be satisfied.

She lay on his chest, frightened but blissful.

“Heinrich! Dear Heinrich! ”

“You must be mine, Lotte, and if the world goes to pieces, and if they cast me out like a scoundrel, and if it’s a crime – you must be mine!”

She looked up at the trembling man.

‘Do you love me, Lotte? A little dear? ”

“Yes, I love you, Heinrich!”

“Lotte!”

A shout of exultation, a cry of redemption resounded the pale autumn air. The homeless man held happiness in his trembling arms and looked at it and would have liked to laugh out loud with great joy.

“Lotte, I’m rich now! Now I’ve won everything! I feel good now! Now I will be able to live again! Now everything else is completely indifferent. ”

She looked at him and her eyes were wet.

There was a long, blissful pause, that great silence in which everything is dead except joy.

But gradually a shadow spread over her face.

“Heinrich! Have they really all left you for my sake? ”

“Yes, Lotte! But leave them, don’t talk about them, don’t think about them! When I have you, they may be gone; all all -!”

[242]

He laughed again, let go of her and shook himself as if he had something invisible to throw off.

“Come on, let’s go a bit, we want to discuss everything with one another.”

They went hand in hand and the mists covered them protectively. He told her about his love for her, how she had actually always lived in him since the days of childhood, how he had only pushed her back all that time in long, painful fights, and how these fights had become terrible after those days in May . Then he also told her about Liese, Mathias, Lene and the end.

She stopped. Quietly and anxiously she asked:

“Is that how I really destroyed your home, Heinrich? I?”

He shook his head thoughtfully.

“No! I’ve thought about it a lot. What is home anyway? I dont know! I just know that I never had one, unless it was as a child. We haven’t had a happy life – none of them! And that’s how it would have stayed if I had taken the Liese. No, it would have gotten a lot worse. Because I would never have got you out of my mind, never! ”

She leaned her head on his shoulder and he kissed her again.

Taking a deep breath, he straightened up and stood still, as if he had to reflect. How was he He felt free, light, strong, as if burdens had slipped from his soul and new, cheerful paths had opened up for him.

[243]

“Lotte, now luck will come!”

She snuggled up against him and now talked about herself, about her desolate home, about the bliss she felt in May, despite her sick foot, about his care, about the long, hapless time when the barber told anew every day how Heinrich tries very hard for Liese, and the young Riedelbauer bothered her with his intrusiveness, and then about how she had heard that Liese was going to the monastery and Mathias had become enemies with Heinrich. A new hope crept into her heart. In the following weeks, however, when Lena was gone and she saw him walking around so tired and sick, the maids had said that the young beech farmer was getting profound, he didn’t eat any more and woke up all nights in his room, and then it would be again the barber came and said Heinrich would grieve to death for Liese. Of course, all their hopes were over.

“But now, Heinrich, everything is different now!”

The bliss of love shone on the girl’s face.

He stopped.

“Something occurred to me, Lotte: where two homeless people meet who love each other, there becomes a home.”

She looked at him with confidence and faith and nodded her head.

They went a little further. The girl struggled with a thought that finally broke out:

“I have to know one thing, Heinrich: What do you reproach my father for? You have to tell me that!”

[244]

“Lotte, dear Lotte, let’s not torment ourselves with the old stories in our first good hour.”

She bowed her head.

“Yes, Heinrich, it is necessary! We have to be clear about that. There must be nothing between us! This unspoken distrust between the two courtyards, that was the worst. That can’t be between the two of us! ”

“It won’t be, Lotte!”

“But we have to speak up!”

She paused again. Then, with great effort, she brought out:

“Do you think – that my father – set fire to your yard?”

“No, Lotte! That’s not even possible! He was always at home! ”

“But – but you think that he instigated someone to do it or that he knew about it?”

Heinrich hesitated.

“You know, Lotte, that Mathias said that and was therefore punished.”

“And you?”

She looked fearfully into his eyes.

“I, Lotte – I don’t believe it! It could have been anyone: a careless servant, a loiter, an unknown enemy. God knows! ”

“It’s good, Heinrich, because otherwise – and what are you reproaching him for? What does Lene say? Tell me everything! I beg you, Heinrich! ”

“Lotte, I find it difficult – especially today -”

[245]

“Yes, already today! When it is down from the heart, then we will only be completely happy. What does Lene say? ”

“She says – our – our father shot himself because your father canceled his money.”

Lotte nodded.

“Yes I know! Father told me. He was over with you and wanted to have a good talk with your father; but he was annoyed and even gave him notice of “you” and there – my father asked for the money. But he had no idea that everything would turn out like this. And, Heinrich, that it came like an unforeseen misfortune, that’s why father drinks, it ruined him. ”

She cried.

“Lotte, dear Lotte! You have also experienced bitter things. ”

“Oh, Heinrich! And I didn’t have a soul to speak to. Nobody! I had to carry everything for myself. And the only one I loved was you – and – and – ”

“Dear, dear girl!”

He kissed her again, long and deeply.

“I am so happy, Heinrich, that we have said that. If you had thought so bad of my father, we shouldn’t have had each other. No, Heinrich, certainly not, then I would not be worthy of you, then it would be quite impossible. But you can believe that: my father has his faults; but he has nothing bad[246] done. Your people are doing him an injustice, I can assure you that, and therefore I can also become your wife! If you only believe it firmly. ”

“I believe it, Lotte!”

She nodded happily and they took a few more steps.

“And what next, Lotte? What will your father say when I come and want you to be my wife? ”

She bowed her head.

“He will be frightened, maybe also scold a lot. You don’t have to blame that. That’s natural. But he won’t say “no”, not in the long run. He can’t refuse a single request – none! And you – how will it be with you? ”

“I? I am my own boss! I’ve got it through so far and I’ll finish it off. I broke with the others. I’m lonely now, but I’m free! When I have you, Lotte, I get over everything. And time changes some things. My people will gradually change their minds. ”

“Let’s hope so!”

Lotte had wanted to visit the village. She gave up the intention.

The young couple walked on a wide, quiet field, and the mist shielded them from prying eyes. They talked about their future and built a new home. From the west a red glow shone through the white mist. The sun went down there.

[247]

“I have to go home now,” said Lotte. “Maybe if the father is alone, I’ll tell him today.”

“Lotte! Do you want to dare? Or isn’t it better if I do? ”

“No, Heinrich! If my father admits it, he’s only doing it because he loves me and doesn’t refuse me anything. I’ll give you a message. ”

They went home very slowly. When the beech courtyards emerged from the thick fog, they said a long farewell.

When Heinrich entered his room it was as if he were drunk.

He could not stop in one place, not sit; he was always walking to and fro in blissful restlessness, and sometimes he clapped his hands over his glowing face, and again and again he went to the window and looked across the street.

He could still feel her soft, warm mouth now. The dear girl. If she would be, then everything would be fine, then a whole sea of ​​sun and bliss came into this empty room, then there had to be a wonderful home here.

If only he could talk to someone, now he wouldn’t have to be alone again! He considered himself and went over to the conductor.

The conductor sat at his table and studied a letter. He wanted to hide the document, but then he thought about it, pushed it over to Heinrich and growled:

[248]

“Doesn’t matter! There! From Hannes! ”

Heinrich read:

Dear father!

By writing to you once again. You shouldn’t worry about me. I’m fine. But I was arrested for three days. But you don’t have to worry because they’re already over. And it was bearable. Because Lena wrote to me that she was going to marry me, I didn’t clean the buttons and I was late for roll call. Whereby one of the NCOs stuck right away. What I whistled against when I was in the can. Because I’m so happy that Lene is marrying me because I am good to her and because she is a beautiful, strong girl. Then I’ll become a miner and she’ll sew. We get along there because I neither drink nor dance. Dear father, I am very sorry that Lene made such a row with Heinrich and is gone. Aunt Emilie, with whom she is now, I can’t stand it, she’s an old toad. But now I have to act like a tulip and stand by Lene, which is why I am her bridegroom. Where I now have to grumble at Heinrich, because otherwise she won’t take me. But what is all just an act. Because Heinrich has always been my friend, and I won’t leave that. But now I pretend and curse him as much as I can. You have to tell him that he won’t be offended if he hears something. When I have married Lene, I will be the master of the house. It’ll be different, there won’t be a row with him Because Heinrich has always been my friend, and I won’t leave that. But now I pretend and curse him as much as I can. You have to tell him that he won’t be offended if he hears something. When I have married Lene, I will be the master of the house. It’ll be different, there won’t be a row with him Because Heinrich has always been my friend, and I won’t leave that. But now I pretend and curse him as much as I can. You have to tell him that he won’t be offended if he hears something. When I have married Lene, I will be the master of the house. It’ll be different, there won’t be a row with him[249] Heinrich more. The main thing is to get married first! It’s a shame that Mathias is gone too, and that Liese is gone. But that cannot be changed. And you have to stay at the Buchenhof, otherwise everything will go bankrupt. Dear father, when I get vacation for Christmas, I’ll go to Waldenburg. You have to come there on the first holiday. Because I don’t come to the Buchenhof because of the hostility. And if I don’t get a vacation, I won’t come at all. Because of the three days! And you don’t have to worry and say hello to Heinrich and say nothing to Lene about anything. Then you can send me ten marks if necessary.

Best regards

Your son

Johannes Reichel.

“You know what, Schaffer,” said Heinrich happily, “send him thirty marks! There they are! Send it to him! He’s a great guy! ”

Heinrich put the money on the table.

The giant stared at him stupidly, but then he grinned and rested a finger on his right hand heavily on the gold pieces, as if he were afraid that a draft might blow them away.

“And you, Reichel, will you remain loyal to me? Whatever may come? Yes? You stay with me when they all go – all of them! ”

The giant thought hard. Then he said:

“A old tomcat won’t leave the farm!”

[250]

“That’s nice of you, Reichel! We will stay friends! And now you come over with me. We want to drink a bottle of wine together because Hannes is going to get engaged. Are you listening to Hannes? Only to Hannes’ health! He reported it to us. ”

Reichel said that if he was to drink wine, he had to wash himself and put on his Sunday jacket and put on his embroidered shirt, otherwise it wouldn’t work. But then he would come.

When Heinrich came back into the courtyard, he met old Stenzeln.

»Pst! That’s good! It doesn’t cause a stir! Here! From the miss! Good night!”

She scurried away.

Heinrich vomited the letter in the living room.

Dear Heinrich!

Everything is good. The father will consent. Come over to us tomorrow morning at 10 a.m. Good night dearest It kisses you warmly

Your overjoyed Lotte.

Heinrich picked up the letter and pressed it to his forehead. Then he looked at the large picture of his father on the wall.

“Father, you have to say ‘yes and amen’. I’m too happy, too happy! ”

Loneliness and remorse were far.

[251]

The moon had driven the mists away. Late in the night he peeked into three rooms in the beech courtyards.

Then he saw how the old Schaffer shook hands with his young master and said with an even heavier tongue than usual:

“Lotte is good! You can’t do anything for anything! And it’s none of my business. And I’m a worker. ”

Then he shone in the face of the old man, who was standing soberly up at the gable window today and looking down at the churchyard and said:

“Now be satisfied and leave me alone.”

And he scattered silver sparks on the forehead and mouth of Lotte, who lay blissfully in her bed and dreamed of a new, beautiful home.

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