He was probably very excited. He stopped at every table and drummed on them with his fat, short fingers. He was always drawn to the window, and yet he did not have the courage to go very close. But the eyes were always directed anew to the Buchenhof. He was so absorbed in his thoughts and looking at the stately homestead that he did not even notice the door opening and a man appear to watch him for a few seconds.
“A wonderful property, the Buchenhof, what, Schräger?”
“Ah – ah – yes – yes – of course – of course; oh, it’s you, Berger, you have me – ”
“So scared, right? Huh! It’s hard to believe that an innkeeper will be shocked when a guest comes. ”
“I – I was just thinking -”
“You were just thinking about what the Buchenhof would be for a very nice restaurant, and unfortunately I came and disturbed you in your devotion.”
“You’re just a funny person, Berger. Always know a joke. What can I pour you? ”
“Nothing at all! I just want to ask you something, weird. – – Does he already know? ‘And he pointed with his thumb at the Buchenhof.
“What – what should he know?”
“From the bankruptcy and the 15 percent!”
“Berger, how do you know that again? That’s not even possible! ”
The other laughed.
“Yes, you know, if you’re a rag like me and drive around the whole country with a dog-dog delivery service, you hear a lot. What a real scoundrel is, he knows everything. ”
The landlord looked at Berger with restlessly flickering eyes.
“Well, all right! A already knows. A is just unlucky! It’s none of my business, Berger. What?”
“Nu dear! O yes! Yes, yes!”
The rag man laughed at this speech. More obliquely started.
‘Should it concern me? Me? What? What for example? I want to know. What then, Berger? ”
He leaned against the ledge, narrowed his eyes a little and said very calmly: “I’ll tell you something, weird. You see, someone might think that it would actually be very nice if the two beech farms came together again. – Let me talk, weird, don’t get upset! So, if everything were a rule again! Someone might think so. Not? Well, but it would be a very stupid thought, weird, because the Raschdorfs don’t go out over there! ”
“I don’t know what you’ve got, Berger. I don’t think of that in my dream. The Raschdorf is my friend. ”
“Is your friend, weird. That’s nice of you! And because you just got your friend in the ink with the shares – ”
“Berger, I won’t put up with that!”
“Because you got him into the ink, I say, you will probably have to ride him out again now.”
“That’s a cheek of yours, Berger! How did you get there? That’s none of your business! ”
“Doesn’t concern me at all, weird, you’re right! But that is precisely what has nothing to do with me, I take care of that. Stranger, I want to say something to you in all comfort: If you act badly in Raschdorf, for example, I’ll make you bad in the whole fatherland and in the whole Waldenburg district. Understand? I sell you as a rag in every house. ”
“Now is enough, Berger! You told me in my house I’ll sue you, and if you say a single word, then – ”
“Threw me out. Do right, weird, I would do it too! But I’m going alone. Know my opinion! Live well, weird! ”
Berger could still hear the landlord hissing something after him, but he didn’t care. From the sour-sweet-smelling tavern he stepped back out onto the sunlit, free street. A small covered wagon was standing there, in front of which a large, black and white-haired dog was hitched. He glanced at his master with an amorous sidelong glance and knocked his mighty tail on the handle of the car in three evenly spaced intervals. The rag man paused and looked attentively at his vehicle, in which something was quietly moving.
“Have you seen a Raschdorf Heinrich, Pluto?”
The dog barked happily.
“Or maybe even a Schaffer-Hannes?”
The dog barked louder.
“Did you really see her, Pluto? I want to know where they are. ”
The dog barked madly and tugged and tore at his harness. The rag man bent down and released him.
“Well, look there, Pluto, look there!”
One leap and the mighty dog disappeared under the tarpaulin. There was screaming and murderous screams in the little car, in between there was a furious bark of dogs. The rag man stood there and laughed, and the tears ran down his wrinkled, dusty face.
A couple of gaiters became visible on the shaft, in which two Quartan’s feet were stuck, and gradually the whole young academic emerged. Meanwhile there was a wild roar and barking in the car.
“You are crazy, Pluto! My face, ouch, my face! ”
The little chariot swayed and trembled from the violent struggle that was going on within it, and then it became An animal tangle was visible in its dark opening, and a dog fell on the road to the right of the pole, and a boy to the left of the pole.
Hannes got up with a scratched face.
“We’re coming from the funeral,” he said ruefully, looking contrite at his father’s demolished parade hat. ‘You have a little joke and crawl into the rag wagon, and you start rushing with dogs. What only my father will say about his top hat! Ugh, Mathias, I’ll remember that! That’s rough of him. ”
The rag man laughed until he shook himself.
“You scoundrels! True, it would have been fun if Mathias Berger had drawn you into the village! Well, don’t cry, Hannes! Your father won’t say anything about the broken cylinder; a never says anything; at most a will cut you. ”
Hannes could not see any consolation in these words, and so Mathias Berger promised him a new top hat. He has two of them. One comes from his wedding, the other he inherited. Hannes should pick up the most beautiful one right away, before his father returns home from the field and becomes aware of what has happened to his “mourning barrel”.
Then the boy’s distress was resolved. And after Hannes had received the comforting assurance through a few critical questions about the heirloom that the two Bergers hats were really splendid specimens of their kind, he tensed himself next to the one he otherwise loved Pluto and with him pulled the little cart down the street towards the village.
Mathias Berger and Heinrich Raschdorf followed some distance away. It was evening. Individual reapers came home from the field. The first stalks had fallen somewhere outside. How the people walk so proudly at the beginning of the harvest! There is stored strength in their muscles, and the joyful assurance resides in their hearts that their body is strong and capable. These healthy people are perhaps the happiest people on earth. Certainly the most suffering, the calmest, the most fearless. What they lack they do not know, and what they have is above all value for money. The others have a lot that is junk, and the worse is: they know what is wrong with them and brood over it and are tired of longing. It is no wonder that a closed, taciturn pride lives in the peasant.
Mathias Berger looked at his young companion, who was wearing a gray suit with shorts, a white straw hat and gaiters. “You actually look strange here on the village street,” he said.
“Yes, Mathias, you know, and I’d much rather be home again.”
“Don’t you like it at the school in Wroclaw?”
“Oh yes, when you’re seventh out of thirty-eight, that’s pretty decent. In French I only have “enough”, otherwise I look pretty good. But you know Mathias, the bad thing is that I’m always so afraid. ”
“Do you feel homesick sometimes, Heinrich?”
The boy tempered his voice.
“Yes, but I’ll only tell you that, Mathias! Otherwise I should be too ashamed of myself. And my colleagues would say I was a coward and I got class wedges. But I’m always so afraid. I can’t help it. After the holidays anyway! Once, after the vacation, I didn’t wear my weekday shoes for four weeks. I didn’t want to brush it off because – because it was floor of home. ”
The rag man turned away and said in a disguised, somewhat hoarse voice:
“You’ll learn to overcome that, Heinrich! Or don’t you want to be a doctor or a pastor or something? ”
“No, Mathias, I don’t want to! I want to be home again, where you all are. ”
“Do you want to become a farmer, Heinrich?”
“Yes. Look, Mathias, it would be a shame about our beautiful estate. You see, right here by the wild cherry tree you can overlook all of our fields. That’s a lot! Don’t you, Mathias? We are actually rich. But I don’t say that in Breslau. I just always remember that we have such a beautiful property. ”
The rascal bent down hastily for the edge of the road, tore off a stalk of sorrel, bit it, and then spat it all far away.
“What is your mother doing?” He asked.
“She’s very sick again. On Wednesday, as was the weekly market in Waldenburg, she was with the doctor. ”
“And what did he say?”
“I do not know that. She cried when she got home. It is also what always worries me that my mother is not healthy. ”
They walked on in silence for a while.
“Just see that you can keep going at school, Heinrich! Valid, you have to go to the prime before you have the one-year-old? ”
“Only up to upper secondary.”
“So that would be a good three years. Look, Heinrich, it’s good if you learn something. In any case, it’s good. It’s really pathetic when someone is as dumb as me, for example. Can you get a job when you’re one year old, Heinrich? ”
“Oh yes, there was someone in our booth who went away after he was one year old, and now he’s a clerk in a district office, and then he’s going to be district secretary or something like that. But I don’t like to be a district secretary. I want to be a farmer. ”
“Already, alright, Heinrich! But look, in the end you could change your mind later. ”
“Never, Mathias, never! I’ll take over the estate. It’s a thousand times better than having to sit in an office like that. ”
The rag man glanced over the golden corridors that stretched to the right and left of him and which now all belonged to the Raschdorfs.
“We’ll see that you can become a farmer. We’ll see! ”He said. – –
Hannes stopped with the dog in the middle of the road. A troop of reapers turned in from a field border, and August Reichel, Hannes’ father, walked heavily at their head.
“Well, come here quickly, Heinrich, otherwise there will be a disaster down there!” Said the rag man, and walked briskly with his companion.
They arrived at the car pretty much at the same time as the reapers. August Reichel, a giant of stature, stopped and looked with a most frightening look at his offspring, who was standing in front of him anxiously and convulsively hiding something behind his back with one hand.
The giant stretched his neck a little and was able to comfortably examine the back of his offspring from a distance. A twitch went over the Goliath’s face.
He said laconically and held out his hand.
Hannes handed him the ruined “mourning barrel” and peered half afraid, half waiting through the hair that hung on his forehead up to his muscular father.
He looked at the top hat, took the straw hat off his head, tried on the top hat, found that it would fit him, then checked the sweat leather and suddenly hit the kid in front of him the hat on his head with such force that he sank into it up to his chin and knelt with both legs on the street at the same time.
“August, it’s half my fault,” said the rag man soothingly, “I’ve got two top hats at home; I’ll send you one. ”
A smile crossed the giant’s broad face.
“I don’t need one!” He said, and nodded gently to the rag man. Then he sat down again at the head of his tailors and strode in majesty with legs apart up the hill towards the Buchenhof.
Hannes worked his way into daylight. He looked after his father, half angry, half gleefully, and said, rubbing his forehead and threatening his father with his finger:
“Just wait! If I have a headache tonight, I’ll have to make tea! ”
Mathias Berger laughed, Pluto barked a little cheering hymn, Hannes took him around the neck and the little caravan moved on.
So they arrived at the rag man’s little house. The Liese came towards them. She hadn’t seen her father for a whole week. Now she hugged him tenderly. But he put his arm around her and ran his hand over her flax-blonde head.
“Liese! Nu, Liese! Nu, mei Madel you! ”
A whole stream of love went through these few words. Then came Berger’s sister, who has been with him took care of housekeeping after his wife’s early death. Meanwhile the boys unhitched the dog and pushed the wagon into a small shed. Mathias Berger followed them. He lifted a huge sack full of rags from the car and shook it out.
“Well, look there! If I will sort them out, that will be very interesting. Everything is there. Stains of wool from grandmother’s clothes and calico from children’s aprons, remnants from the bride’s state and canvas from a death shirt. A rag man can see everything. Everything comes in his sack. ”
Heinrich followed these words thoughtfully; but Hannes didn’t listen and went to work with a small wooden box.
This treasure chest was opened in the room. A child’s heart could be happy at such a sight. There were also some boring things in the box, like: thimbles, sewing needles, thread, Jerusalem balm and pen holders. But otherwise! Soldier pictures, all sorts of other pictures with beautiful verses by Gustav Kühn from Neu Ruppin, whip strings, pipes, spinning tops, tokens, paper medals, small pistols, bird whistles, “gold and silver” clocks and finger rings the heavy mass with the most magnificent stones.
“I would like a finger ring for Raschdorf-Lene,” said Hannes, “because she often gives me a slice of sausage cuts.”
“Pick one for yourself, Hannes,” said the rag man.
The boy rummaged through the treasures with trembling fingers. The Prince Charming may have felt like that when they were looking for the wonder ring.
Heinrich stood a little apart. He probably thought it incompatible with his high school dignity to be interested in such things, but he never turned an eye from the box. Finally he stepped closer with forcibly enforced indifference.
“What’s that all about?” He asked with tremendous equanimity.
“If you like something, Heinrich, just choose something,” said Berger in a friendly manner.
Heinrich acted as if he had absolutely no intention of doing that, but in the end he checked a small fuse and was persuaded by Berger to keep it and a box of ammunition. He also took a silver medal star. But then he felt the need to be more serious again.
“Do you know, Mathias, who actually introduced the rag men in Silesia?”
“No,” said Mathias, “I don’t know.”
“Old Fritz did that,” instructed Heinrich. “Before the time of Old Fritz there were no rags in Silesia.”
“Old Fritz did something very clever,” said Berger.
“I was very good in general,” said Hannes benevolently, to show that he was also well versed in history. He put three rings in the shortlist: a diamond ring, a ruby ring and a simple silver ring with the word “love” embossed on it.
“Yes,” said Heinrich again, “old Fritz was very economical, and he didn’t want people to throw things away: rags, bones, old iron and the like. So he put the rag men in the country. And they had to have things like you, Mathias. And that’s called barter. The new paper mills also mattered. ”
Berger’s eyes shone. “Look, Heinrich, that’s nice when someone knows all this. I’ve been a rascal for so long, and I like to be one too; but I’ve never known who actually invented us. It would be nice if you kept studying and became a scholar. Not, Heinrich? Look, there are tons of farmers in the world. ”
The boy felt flattered, but he shook his head.
“No, I want to be a farmer. I want to take over the farm. I always want to be here. ”
“That’s right,” agreed Hannes; “If you’re not there, there’s nothing going on at home. Look, Heinrich, which one do I take: the one with the white stone or the one with the red stone? I don’t like the silver one with “love”; Lene would give me a slap in the end. I think I’ll take the red one. ”
“Take them both, Hannes,” said the rag man. “Those who have a choice are spoiled for choice.”
“But the silver one is cute too – it’s very pretty,” said Heinrich.
“So keep it,” said Berger.
“The one with” love “?” Asked Hannes, astonished. “Who do you want to give the one with” love “to, Heinrich?”
The Quartan turned blood red.
“Oh, nobody,” he stammered, “nobody, maybe the Liese.”
And he gave the fake little ring to Liese, Berger’s daughter, who had stood behind him for a long time with red cheeks.