The young beech farmer sat desolate at home in his room

She washed the wound with tender care, and when she poured the healing arnica juice on it, she looked anxious[150] according to Heinrich, whether it wasn’t causing him too much pain.

She applied the bandage with skillful fingers.

Heinrich looked at the delicate, pretty girl. She was now seventeen years old. Light blond hair fell in part around the pure, white forehead. The face was a little pale.

Heinrich thought of how tenderly Mathias loved this girl, and he resolved to be kind to Liese all his life. That, he said, required gratitude to Mathias, his great benefactor.

And the thought that Mathias would be happy if he were good and kind to Liese seized him strongly at this hour. He had hardly thought of it before. Now the high duty became his.

He gently ran his hand over the top of the head of the kneeling girl.

“You are so good to me, Liese. I thank you!”

Then she looked at him with bright eyes, and her pale cheeks turned a little red.

“I like to do it,” she said simply.

At that moment Mathias looked in through the garden window. He looked at them for a moment, then stepped back silently.

In the garden he leaned against a tree. The first buds had opened and looked at him like stars that had just risen. –

For the following days Heinrich was tied to the room. His foot was badly swollen.

[151]

So he asked the Liese to bring him some of his books.

As the books lay in front of him, the young beech farmer’s eyes shone. It was like seeing old friends again.

Then the postman brought a letter. It was from a good friend of Heinrich’s from Breslau, a schoolmate who had sat next to him in the class and had also lived in the same pension with him.

Heinrich received the letter with a cheer and read it with shining eyes. Lots of interesting news from people he knew well. And at the end came the description of the life and goings-on in the new class.

Heinrich got homesick about this letter, and it was so bitter and strong that he had hardly known it before. He looked around. Wasn’t he home? Wasn’t that his room? Wasn’t that your home street outside? How could he get homesick? What was it about home?

The youth did not know; he still believed that home was a visible, definite space.

When Mathias came into the room a little later, Heinrich said: “Mathias, I have a matter. I got a letter here from a friend who is now in senior secondary school. I would like to have the new class send the books to me. I’m interested in what’s coming next, and then, sometimes I’ll have time to learn a little. ”

[152]

“Yes, Heinrich, you’re doing the right thing if you want to continue learning.”

So it came about that the young beech farmer remained a student. He sat with the books on all the long evenings, even on rainy days. And his lively mind got most of it right. He did not neglect to train himself in agricultural work; and things have been going very well since he had made the silent, patient worker his teacher. Hannes had not been able to achieve any success in teaching with him because he was too hot-tempered, biting pedagogue. So his agricultural mentorship was revoked on the basis of a family resolution, and he complied with this dismissal with dignity.

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