The defendant’s interrogation was over

Hermann Raschdorf had not admitted the guilt that was assigned to him. The auditorium was overcrowded. Anyone who had been able to leave the village had gone to the trial.

“A looks very bad,” whispered the blacksmith to the shopkeeper.

“Well, that’s okay,” said he. “That’ll take you away. Anyway like that! Well, see what gray hair a got. ”

“Not a single time does a look round,” said the glasses. “A’s just too ashamed!”

“Eener shouldn’t be -”

“Quiet in the auditorium!”

The innkeeper Julius Schräger was called. He stepped in front of the green table, his face glowing red. He did not send a glance at the defendant, who was looking at his neighbor with frightened eyes.

“I draw your attention to the holiness and importance of the oath! Repeat after me! ”

[66]

“I swear that I will tell the pure truth, that I will not hide anything and that I will not add anything! So help me God! ”

The witness’s personal details were ascertained, and Schräger was then asked to say everything he knew about how the fire started.

He began in awkward speech. He said that Raschdorf had been with him on the afternoon of the day of the fire, that they had first talked about the defendant’s plight; then the Riedel farmer came and told about a fire in the neighborhood. And then Raschdorf would have said that the burn was not that bad because the insurance paid and because everyone helped someone who had burned down.

“What did you say about such phrases?”

“I said he shouldn’t sin!”

“Yes, that was the only right thing you could say. Go on! ”

Yes, he doesn’t know much else. Riedel would have said that the Raschdorf buildings were very good; but Raschdorf would have replied that the stable was no good and that the roofs were damaged; there would always be patches. The Raschdorf was a bit drunk. He left at seven o’clock, and at seven-thirty a maid came from the Buchenhof and reported the fire.

“You were involved in financial transactions with the defendant?”

“Yes, I had to borrow him sometimes.”

[67]

“Most recently, the defendant suffered a great loss from buying stocks. It is said that you strongly advised him to do this business. How is that? ”

Weird became embarrassed. He said that years ago a factory company was founded as a public company. He would have advised Raschdorf to take part. The Raschdorf would have done that too.

“But at that time he had to take out a mortgage to be able to subscribe for the shares?”

“Yes, but at that time the Raschdorf was still in very good shape.”

“It was bold advice from you! But you probably thought the matter was safe and would become profitable? ”

“Yes – yes, that’s what I mean!”

“That’s not true! It’s a hoax! ”

»Quiet in the auditorium! If that happens again, I’ll have the troublemaker brought in here at once! ”

The villagers crouched and moved a little away from Mathias, who stood trembling at the barrier and had called out the words.

“Do you know, Herr Schräger, who the arsonist was?”

“No!”

The defense attorney rose.

“A question! Mr. Schräger, you were a friend and neighbor of the defendant. You have known him well from your youth. Do you think he’s capable of arson? ”

Schräger became very restless. “I – I don’t know for sure. But I think – it must have been! ”

[68]

“That’s not true! That’s a mean thing! It wasn’t Raschdorf! It was more likely the stranger himself! ”

The President jumped up in indignation.

“Bailiff! The man at the barrier who called that has to be brought up here at once! ”

A bailiff came into the auditorium and Mathias Berger was brought before the judge. The villagers hardly dared to breathe.

Berger’s personal details were established.

“How can you dare to disturb the proceedings here repeatedly?”

“I – I don’t hold myself when I see how the – the – the rascal is saying wrong!”

“I’ll sue him!” Said Schräger, crimson with anger.

“That is your right, witness!”

The prosecutor rose.

“I am petitioning Mathias Berger to be imprisoned for three days for gross mischief in court!”

So it was recognized and Berger led away.

Outside in the long court corridor Heinrich Raschdorf was leaning in a window niche. Mathias Berger, whom the bailiff had gently on his arm, walked past him and looked at him with a pained look.

“Mathias – Mathias, what is -?”

“Heinrich, your father is lost!”

“Mathias, I want – I – I -”

He clung desperately to the rag man.

“Go away, my boy, let go!”

[69]

He did not let go when the bailiff pushed him firmly aside.

The boy watched the two disappear into the long corridor. Then he went to the window and stared down into the bare courtyard.

A maid was interrogated inside the courtroom.

She was busy in the cowshed, but then she wanted to fetch a feed basket from the barn, and then she saw that it was burning. So she ran to the living room.

“What did the defendant say when you reported to him?”

The maid was silent.

“What your master said when you told him there was a fire, I ask.”

“A – – a said:” It – it burns! “And then a – has a – laughed!”

A movement went through the whole courtroom and the defendant winced.

Then a servant. He testified that the gentleman had come to him in the stable and had been there for a long time. He would have ranted about anything and then left. The witness did not know where to go.

“Heinrich Raschdorf!”

Not a breath could be heard in the wide courtroom. The defendant just spun around and turned his pale face to the door.

Heinrich Raschdorf stepped into the courtroom with his head bowed and his face bloodless. You were wrong once[70] his dark eyes in a circle. When he saw his father, his mouth opened, his face twisted, and he stopped. But then he lowered his eyes and went before the judge.

He looked at the beautiful boy, and a warm beam flashed through the cold, inquiring eyes of the lawyer.

“My child! You have been summoned as a witness. The accused is your father. You can refuse to testify. Then you can go again soon! ”

The boy raised his eyes and looked anxiously at the judge.

“I – I want to say everything – everything. I – I have – lit myself! ”

A few screams came from the auditorium, and the President forgot the call to order.

“You lit the fire?”

“Yes! – I – I wanted to smoke cigarettes – cigarettes – in the barn – and there – there – ”

The defendant raised his hand.

“Heinrich! Heinrich, is that true? ”

Heinrich Raschdorf did not look at him and said:

“It’s true!”

“Boy, how can you say that? You will be locked up immediately if that is true. Remember that! ”Warned the judge.

“It is true!” Repeated Heinrich.

Then he turned pale and began to tremble so violently that the judge told him to sit down for the time being until he had recovered.

[71]

The hearing continued.

“August Reichel!”

The giant padded heavily into the hall. He mumbled the oath so softly that the President had to admonish him to speak audibly.

He stood before the court with an awkward, frightened face. He was supposed to tell, but he just growled, grunted incomprehensible stuff and couldn’t get a sentence out. Then the judge turned to questioning.

“Were you in the courtyard or in the farm buildings at the time of the crime?”

Reichel stared at the judge and was silent.

“I ask whether you were in the courtyard, in the stable or in the barn on the day in question between 7 am and ½ o’clock in the evening?”

The conductor shook his head.

“No!”

“Where were you during that time?”

Reichel considered himself and then said slowly:

“Derheeme!”

“What does” derheeme mean? “You mean you were at home in your room?”

Reichel nodded.

“Who was with you?”

“Hannes and Heinrich!”

“What did the boys do with you?”

“Sixty-six!”

“What?”

“Sixty-six! I’ll teach him! ”

[72]

A couple of jurors grinned.

“So the boys played cards? How long?”

“Until half past seven!”

“Why until half past eight?”

“Halfway through, I took the cards away.”

“So! And then did Heinrich Raschdorf leave? Alone?”

“No, with Hannes!”

“Do you know anything about how the fire started?”

Reichel shook his head.

“But it wasn’t the Lord!” He said.

“Why wasn’t it him?”

Reichel shrugged his shoulders.

“Do you know anything to suggest that your master is innocent?”

Reichel nodded significantly.

“I speak it!”

The judge ran a hand over his face.

“I mean, Reichel, that’s just your opinion! Do you have any proof of that? ”

“Ain’t it! A don’t do it! ”

“You sit down!”

The conductor sat down on the narrow witness bench and stretched his mighty legs far into the room. He scowled because all that talking had annoyed him. –

“Johannes Reichel!”

Hannes was brought in half forcibly in very poor condition. He wriggled hands[73] and legs and howled to soften stones. The judge encouraged him, but that made the howling worse. The officer shouted at him enormously, and that helped.

The judge first established that Hannes had been with his father and Heinrich.

“What did you do?” Asked the judge in his benevolent but somewhat brief manner.

The good Hannes was terrified at this question. He started to howl, lifted his hands pleadingly and sobbed: “Played sixty-six – but I won’t do it anymore – I won’t do it anymore – just don’t lock up – oh – oh dear – oh dear -”

“Be quiet, boy! I don’t care if you played cards. Nothing happens to you there. Tell me how Heinrich Raschdorf went home. But now tell the truth! Woe to you if you lie. So how was that? ”

Hannes said that he and Heinrich went straight over to the living room.

“Tell me, my boy, so you played cards; didn’t you smoke too? ”

“No, we didn’t smoke – we didn’t smoke at all – not a tiny bit -”

“Johannes, don’t lie! Did you smoke? ”

“We smoked cigarettes a number of times, but that was in the field in the summer – Heinrich two and I one – but we got so bad -”

“Did you smoke on the day you were burning?”

[74]

“No, not there, we didn’t even have any cigarettes. Truly not! ”

“Weren’t you in the barn before you went to Raschdorf’s living room?”

“Nah, we went over soon.”

“Heinrich Raschdorf!” The boy stepped forward again.

“You heard what your friend was saying. That’s just the opposite of what you’re saying. Who is lying about you two now? ”

“I – I smoked – smoked alone – in the barn -”

“You smoked alone? When did you smoke? When were you alone? ”

The boy was mortally embarrassed and had no answer. Hannes took courage and answered with his index finger as in school.

“Teacher, a dizzy! A was always with us, and then, when we passed over, Robert went with us, the servant. ”

“Robert Kirschner!”

The servant testified that he had come out of the wagon shed, saw the two boys come out of the servants’ quarters, and because he had not yet spoken to Heinrich, who had just come on vacation, he had gone with the boys and accompanied her to the door. He saw Heinrich go into the room, and he chatted with Hannes. And then Karoline had already come and said that it was burning.

[75]

“Heinrich Raschdorf! Why do you lie in court? Why do you accuse yourself? ”

“My father! My father!”

“You wanted to save your father?”

The boy nodded, sobbing heavily. It was over with his composure.

“Has anyone persuaded you to make such a statement? Tell the truth now, my boy! You know God looks into your heart. And you mustn’t stain your heart. Has anyone persuaded you to falsely accuse yourself? ”

“Nobody encouraged me!”

“Really not? How did you come up with that? ”

“I’m so scared – so terribly scared!”

“Sit down, Heinrich Raschdorf!”

“Mrs. Anna Raschdorf!”

The consumptive woman staggered into the hall. The churchyard roses bloomed on her cheeks.

“Do you want to exercise your right to refuse to testify, Ms. Raschdorf?”

“No!”

She testified what she knew. She did not deny that your husband was not sober; but when he told the boy that ruin was at hand, he trembled. And the fire only made it worse. Machines have been burned that are not insured, the whole, rich harvest has been burned, the cattle must be away. The misery only became full through the fire.

A number of other witnesses were also questioned without anything of particular interest being revealed.

[76]

The plaidoyers began.

The prosecutor stated:

The defendant was in a desperate financial situation. He couldn’t pay the interest on the St. John’s appointment and neither on the Michael’s appointment. In addition, there was a bill of exchange debt that he was unable to repay. On the afternoon of the day of the fire, the story of the farmer Riedel had stimulated Raschdorf’s imagination; he had recognized a favorable way out in a fire and expressed this idea through extremely burdensome words. His brain had been heated up by copious amounts of alcohol, and so the prosecution, fully convinced that the accused had started the fire in the barn, went to the horse stable, where he made himself indifferent and unsuspecting through completely unmotivated scolding want to ask, and then went to the living room. In the intoxication, he could not have avoided laughing when the maid reported the fire. Which farmer would laugh if a fire was reported to him in his homestead? The fact that the defendant’s financial situation worsened as a result of the fire could not be of any relief. Raschdorf had wished for a temporary delay, for things to be turned around; he was tempted by the prospect of getting a lot of hard cash into hand. Heinrich Raschdorf’s statement also appears suspicious to the public prosecutor. What child would accuse himself of such a terrible crime if he was not encouraged, downright seduced? Have a child the fact that the defendant’s financial situation had worsened as a result of the fire could not be of any relief. Raschdorf had wished for a temporary delay, for things to be turned around; he was tempted by the prospect of getting a lot of hard cash into hand. Heinrich Raschdorf’s statement also appears suspicious to the public prosecutor. What child would accuse himself of such a terrible crime if he was not encouraged, downright seduced? Have a child the fact that the defendant’s financial situation had worsened as a result of the fire could not be of any relief. Raschdorf had wished for a temporary delay, for things to be turned around; he was tempted by the prospect of getting a lot of hard cash into hand. Heinrich Raschdorf’s statement also appears suspicious to the public prosecutor. What child would accuse himself of such a terrible crime if he was not encouraged, downright seduced? Have a child What child would accuse himself of such a terrible crime if he was not encouraged, downright seduced? Have a child What child would accuse himself of such a terrible crime if he was not encouraged, downright seduced? Have a child[77] Fear of court; it tries to wash itself clean rather than burden itself. This boy Heinrich Raschdorf wanted to have a relieving effect, but the opposite had happened. It was a failed comedy. The public prosecutor would also like to mention the other incident. The defendant was said to have sided with the auditorium, and Schräger, the main witness, was insulted and downright accused himself. But this witness in particular is entirely credible. His own homestead, which is in the immediate vicinity, was extremely endangered by the fire; In addition, Schräger had been in the inn with his guests all afternoon until the fire broke out. And this man, who has known the accused from his youth, who was his friend and who had helped him out of financial difficulties dozen times, who would now probably lose his money if the accused was convicted and the resulting financial collapse, was not able to testify under the pressure of the oath that he was his friend, neighbor and Debtor does not trust the deed. He, the public prosecutor, asked the jury to pronounce guilty so that the criminal could be punished.

A scream. Heinrich Raschdorf was lying in the courtroom with his arms outstretched, his face on the ground.

The conductor picked it up and carried it carefully out of the hall. Mrs. Anna followed him.

So Hermann Raschdorf was alone. Neither the wife nor the child heard the defense attorney’s speech. The executions[78] The main thing about this man was that Hermann Raschdorf, who had a certain degree of education, could never have committed such a crude crime. Even when he was intoxicated, shortly after he had spoken the careless words, he would have been careful not to commit an act of which he was very likely to be suspected. In addition, Raschdorf sees his financial situation worsened by the fire. He, defense attorney, was of the opinion that the fire had already started while Raschdorf was still in the tavern. The defense attorney could not envy the public prosecutor for his psychological insight. It does happen that a person to whom a terrible accident is reported suddenly laughs, that is a much more intense expression of grief than tears; because so Just as there are tears of joy, there is a laugh of despair, and that was probably to be expected from Hermann Raschdorf, who shortly before the report of the fire informed his son of the impending bankruptcy and found himself in a heavy mood. But the defense attorney was even more sorry that the public prosecutor had called little Heinrich Raschdorf’s filial love, which appeared so real and moving here, a failed comedy. Even the most capable boy does not play comedy so skillfully that he collapses unconscious when he hears of the severe punishment to which he believed his beloved father had already been sentenced. But it does happen that a child, in the fear of his heart, falsely accuses himself in order to save a loved one. The idealism so there is a laugh of despair, and that was probably to be expected from Hermann Raschdorf, who shortly before the report of the fire informed his son of the impending bankruptcy and found himself in severe emotion. But the defense attorney was even more sorry that the public prosecutor had called little Heinrich Raschdorf’s filial love, which appeared so real and moving here, a failed comedy. Even the most capable boy does not play comedy so skilfully that he collapses impotently when he hears of the severe punishment to which he believed his beloved father had already been sentenced. But it does happen that a child, in the fear of his heart, falsely accuses himself in order to save a loved one. The idealism so there is a laugh of despair, and that was probably to be expected from Hermann Raschdorf, who shortly before the report of the fire informed his son of the impending bankruptcy and found himself in severe emotion. But the defense attorney was even more sorry that the public prosecutor had called little Heinrich Raschdorf’s filial love, which appeared so real and moving here, a failed comedy. Even the most capable boy does not play comedy so skillfully that he collapses unconscious when he hears of the severe punishment to which he believed his beloved father had already been sentenced. But it does happen that a child, in the fear of his heart, falsely accuses himself in order to save a loved one. Idealism and that was probably to be assumed in the case of Hermann Raschdorf, who shortly before the report of the fire had informed his son of the impending bankruptcy and found himself in severe emotion. But the defense attorney was even more sorry that the public prosecutor had called little Heinrich Raschdorf’s filial love, which appeared so real and moving here, a failed comedy. Even the most capable boy does not play comedy so skillfully that he collapses unconscious when he hears of the severe punishment to which he believed his beloved father had already been sentenced. But it does happen that a child, in the fear of his heart, falsely accuses himself in order to save a loved one. The idealism and that was probably to be assumed in the case of Hermann Raschdorf, who shortly before the report of the fire had informed his son of the impending bankruptcy and found himself in severe emotion. But the defense attorney was even more sorry that the public prosecutor had called little Heinrich Raschdorf’s filial love, which appeared so real and moving here, a failed comedy. Even the most capable boy does not play comedy so skillfully that he collapses unconscious when he hears of the severe punishment to which he believed his beloved father had already been sentenced. But it does happen that a child, in the fear of his heart, falsely accuses himself in order to save a loved one. The idealism who had informed his son of the impending bankruptcy shortly before the fire was reported and had found himself in severe emotion. But the defense attorney was even more sorry that the public prosecutor had called little Heinrich Raschdorf’s filial love, which appeared so real and moving here, a failed comedy. Even the most capable boy does not play comedy so skillfully that he collapses unconscious when he hears of the severe punishment to which he believed his beloved father had already been sentenced. But it does happen that a child, in the fear of his heart, falsely accuses himself in order to save a loved one. Idealism who had informed his son of the impending bankruptcy shortly before the fire was reported and was in severe emotion. But the defense attorney was even more sorry that the public prosecutor had called little Heinrich Raschdorf’s filial love, which appeared so real and moving here, a failed comedy. Even the most capable boy does not play comedy so skillfully that he collapses unconscious when he hears of the severe punishment to which he believed his beloved father had already been sentenced. But it does happen that a child, in the fear of his heart, falsely accuses himself in order to save a loved one. The idealism that the public prosecutor had called little Heinrich Raschdorf’s filial love, which had appeared so real and moving here, a failed comedy. Even the most capable boy does not play comedy so skillfully that he collapses unconscious when he hears of the severe punishment to which he believed his beloved father had already been sentenced. But it does happen that a child, in the fear of his heart, falsely accuses himself in order to save a loved one. The idealism that the public prosecutor had called little Heinrich Raschdorf’s filial love, which had appeared so real and moving here, a failed comedy. Even the most capable boy does not play comedy so skillfully that he collapses unconscious when he hears of the severe punishment to which he believed his beloved father had already been sentenced. But it does happen that a child, in the fear of his heart, falsely accuses himself in order to save a loved one. The idealism But it does happen that a child, in the fear of his heart, falsely accuses himself in order to save a loved one. The idealism But it does happen that a child, in the fear of his heart, falsely accuses himself in order to save a loved one. The idealism[79] is closer to being a child than a public prosecutor. “Gentlemen of the jury! I most definitely expect from your sense of justice that you will not send this man to prison on mere suspicion, which has in no way been proven; that you will not steal the father of such a heroic boy, the husband of such a sick woman, the savior of such a devastated property. On the whole, however, I do not appeal to your pity, but to your justice and await the acquittal. ”

The jury withdrew. The winter sun shone brightly into the bare courtroom, bells rang out from outside, and the laughter of funny people echoed from the street.

And here sat a man whose fate was in the hands of weak people.

In the distance a dull bell rang three times.

“Three! Look out, a is getting three years, “whispered the superstitious Glasen in the auditorium.

“I’m feeling sick,” said the shopkeeper, and went out.

And now that heavy silence again. Every now and then you could hear the pen of the backward prosecutor scratching softly, who read and signed files indifferently.

The jury came back. No sound went through the wide hall. It was quiet outside too.

“The jury said no to guilty questions. Hermann Raschdorf has been acquitted and will soon be released from prison. ”

[80]

Then the man in the dock buried his face in both hands and wept like a child. An agony thawed, a terrible, long agony.

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