And the rag man also gave a little funeral speech. “Heinrich, if someone says to you: Your father shot himself, then say: Yes, a shot himself, but whether a did it voluntarily or whether a had an accident, the good Lord alone knows. But if someone says to you: Your father lit himself, spit in his face, because that is the helliest lie in the world. Whoever lit it will come out brightly. And now I want to say something else: the Buchenhof stays with Heinrich. A is not sold! ”
Frau Anna looked sadly at Berger.
“The farm must be sold – soon! Schräger canceled his 20,000 marks and the miller his 5000 marks. Now nobody is lending us a hundred thalers for our last mortgage. ”
Berger made a defensive gesture. “Let me talk, Frau Raschdorf. How much are debts? ”
“So? And the farm is worth 150,000! At least!”
“Not now! Now the economies are nothing! And there are no cattle, no farm produce, the buildings burned down. Who knows if we can get out of the debt if we sell and add the insurance money. ”
The woman stretched both hands desolately over the table. Mathias Berger took on a determined expression.
“The economies don’t count now! Good! So she ain’t gonna beat her up. That would be sad. And now out with the language! Don’t be frightened! I borrow the necessary money myself! ”
‘By whom? From me! I borrow it myself! I borrow 10,000 thalers, that’s 30,000 marks. ”
The others looked at him blankly.
“Yes, who do you want to borrow it from?”
“Well, from nobody! From myself! I have so much money myself! ”
“Don’t be kidding today, Mathias,” warned the office. Frau Anna and Heinrich looked down in dismay, and only the Schaffer grunted, a little amused. Then Berger took the floor:
“I have to tell a little story first. Life is often wonderful. So one fine day – it’s been six years now – I’m sitting in a pub in Waldenburg. The stranger comes in. Well, we got on better back then, and a always chatted gladly with me, because one scoundrel knows some things that another doesn’t. Well, as I said, the stranger sits down next to me. A small boot had a fit. There was a dice cup on the table. “Are we around ‘n Bohm!” He said and threw seventeen. I didn’t mean to embarrass myself, threw sixteen and paid ten pfennigs. “Revenge,” said the stranger, and threw thirteen; and I returned the favor, threw seven and gave ten pfennigs again. I liked that weird; a kept rolling the dice and I kept going with it, and I kept paying ‘n Böhm until a mark was full. “You know, Berger, let’s risk a bitch amal, let’s each bet five Bohms. If so, then already! “” If so, then, “I said, and bet fifty pfennigs, because I had a small boot. Now I throw sixteen and I throw eighteen, and it went on until I took five marks and fifty pfennigs from him. A was angry, took his cap and left. Of course I am not too happy, had me brought a fancy roast veal for 40 pfennigs and sent my dog bones from the kitchen for 10 pfennigs. Then I drove off. As I drove through the city, I read a large poster: Marienburg money lottery. Big money wins. Lot 3 marks. I leaned against my dog carriage and so gently learned the poster by heart. And because, as I said, I wasn’t quite clear, I’ll go in and buy a ticket from Schräger’s money. When I came out again, my dog looked at me as if a wanted to say: You stupid fellow, what we could have got for a lot of roast veal and bones for the money. But well, business was done. So at least from that If I could win something real, I bought Liese a doll from the two marks I still had. So what? – After four weeks I had won 30,000 marks with my lottery ticket, a third main prize. ”
“Berger! It is not possible! ”
“Is that true, Mathias?”
The whole company was extremely excited.
Berger smiled. “It’s true. And I got the money paid out for pennies. But I didn’t get it in Waldenburg; I went to Breslau. Because I didn’t want to make any noise. ”
“You can’t believe that!”
“What is unbelievable? That somebody hits the jackpot? That happens in every lottery. And it happens that it hits a little man. I bought papers with the money. Four percent! That makes twelve hundred marks in interest per year. I’ve saved almost all of them. That is again around 7,000 marks. I haven’t said anything to anyone. My sister doesn’t know what and Liese doesn’t know anything. ”
“But why – why did you keep it quiet?”
Berger looked down in front of him.
“Yes why? Well, you’ve probably heard and read that many people who people thought were anemic fellows were actually a little Croesus. With some who were a fencing brother, in the end a lot of gold and silver was found under his rags. There are such quirky guys. It’s a very special fun, the world to be fooled. It was the same with me. But it was not all. The money came too late. It should have come ten years earlier, when I was younger. I would have needed it. ”
The others looked at him blankly; only Frau Anna looked down before her.
Berger forced himself to adopt a more moody tone again.
“Yes, and for a rascal it’s not good if a is rich. I was ashamed. And I wanted to stay a rag man. Driving around in the world and coming to people, that suits me. It’s not that boring. There’s something new every day. Well, and the business feeds me. That’s why I don’t need the money either. I always thought to myself, a lottery like that was crazy. Somebody who doesn’t need it always wins. But again it wasn’t such a thing. Whenever I looked at me so peevishly and thought: “Oh, the poor swallower!” I laughed to myself in silence. And I thought of all kinds of things! ”
The others were silent. Berger’s eyes began to light up.
“And now I thank God that I have the money. Now I can use it. ”
“Berger, you can’t – you mustn’t put your money on such an uncertain thing -”
“I do what I want! I’ll borrow it – that’s that! The matter is quite well. Schräger and Müller are paid off, leaving 85,000 marks in debt. That’s only half of what the good is worth. Then there are still 5,000 marks left to the insurance money that they Buildings can be rebuilt properly. And when I die, Liese and my sister will still have 7,000 marks. That’s a lot of money. And besides, they have the mortgage. ”
“Berger, it seems to me as if you were telling a fairy tale,” said the old cantor. “But you have to think of your child.”
“I’m already thinking of Liese. That remains everything, every penny. If it wasn’t safe, I won’t borrow it. Because I’ve become stingy since I got the money. But it is safe! ”
“We won’t accept that, Berger.”
“So? And back then – how should I get into the parish hall – as a poor village? – You probably think that a rag has no sense of honor? A remembers that when someone hasn’t left him lumpy and starved. And frankly, I don’t know any advice with money. I often said to myself, you could actually start something, clean up the Liese and so – or bite out a fine guy yourself. I always had to laugh when I thought of that. It seemed so dumb to me. Well, and I always put it off. If everything will be okay, I always thought. Leave the girl! It is better if she thinks she is poor. There she will be a very good girl. Everything will be fine! ”
“I’m getting drunk, too, and afterwards I’ll throw the dice,” said Reichel, the worker. It was the first time that he was enthusiastic.
But the others looked down seriously. They were all embarrassed. There was a pause. Frau Anna took Berger’s hand.
“Mathias, you want to make my dying easier.”
“Child! Anna, don’t speak like that! I can’t hear it! ”
The woman shook her head softly and covered her face with her hands.
Mathias Berger said nothing. For a while he sat very still with a red face. Then suddenly he got up and went out.
He stood motionless in the deserted courtyard.
Once, when he was a young guy, he loved a girl. It wasn’t going to be. A rich rival came and pulled her into his arms.
Now she has become poor and he has become rich, and the other is buried. But again it won’t be. A stronger suitor comes – death. He’s probably already over there in the bare meadows. Soon he is walking over the ruins and the yard and leads Anna home to his quiet house. And people will ring the bell and sing at the wedding reception and laugh and drink afterwards, like the loud guests over in the tavern now. But Mathias will go around the world again in his handcart and seek to forget.
“Mathias! Mathias, where are you? ”
“Heinrich! Come here, Heinrich! ”
“Mathias, are you sick?”
“It’s nothing, Heinrich! I’ve just thought of so many things. Heinrich, we two will stick together! ”
“Yes, Mathias! I am so glad that you are to become my guardian. ”
“They call it guardian at the court; it’s called a friend. You should now say “You” to me, Heinrich, and I will say “You” too, forever. And nobody should bring us two apart! ”
So they shook hands.