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Smiling toe Minister said : “ the touching image of Death stande
Not as a Fear to the wise, and not as an End to the pious.
Him it sends to the business of life, and teaches him action ;
This one finds in it solace, and hope of a glorious future.
Each in death sees life. 'Twas not well done of the father
Thus to the sensitive boy death as death only to set forth.
Let men show to the youth the worth which in ripened manhood
Lies, and to age, the vigor of youth; that each may rejoice in
That continual round, and life may ever to life lead."
But then open'd the door, and the goodly couple appeared,
And the friends were struck, the affectionate parents were startled
At the form of the Bride, fit match for the form of the Bridegroom ;
Yea, too small the doorway seem'd, the towering stature
Of the pair to admit, who trod the threshold together.
Aud with winged words did Herman place her before them:
“ Here is a Maiden,” he said, "e'en such as ye wish in the household ;
Dearest Father, receive her well, she deserves it; and Mother,
In whate'er to housekeeping belongs inquire of her knowledge,
That you may learn how well she deserves, to you to be nearer."
Hastily then the excellent Pastor drew he aside, and
Said : “ Kind sir, do ye from this perplexity free me.
Quickly untying the knot, for I tremble to what it may drag me.
For I the Maid have in no wise woo'd she should here as my bride come ;
But she believes as a servant she comes to the house; and I fear me
She will take fright and fly hence, as soon as the talk is of wedlock.
But yet soon be decided the lot! No longer in error
Must she remain ; I, too, cannot bear the uncertainty longer.
Haste, and in this that wisdom show which we venerate ever!"
And the Minister straight then back to the company turn'd him.
But already, alas! the gentle soul of the Maiden
Was by the speech of the Father disturbed; he had freely addrest her
In his gamesome mood, nor meant he aught of unseemly:
“ Yes, my Child, it is well! With joy I perceive it, my son has
Taste, like his Father before him, who in his time, it was well known,
Ever the fairest led to the dance, and at last on the fairest
Fixt, and brought her as bride to his house ; for such was my Wife here
When a man chooses a bride it is well seen what is his spirit,
If he have judgment, and whether he feels that he has a value.
But you needed, I ween, small time to make your decision ;
And, by my troth, to follow our Herman is not a hard thing."
Herman heard but faintly the words; for all in a tremble
Was he within ; and at once the whole of the circle was silent.
But the excellent Maid, by such strange lightness of converse,
As to her it appear’d, offended and deep in her soul hurt,
Stood, with a tiying blush from her cheeks e'en down to her bosom
All suffus'd ; yet still she refrain’d, and herself she collected,
Then to the Host she spake, her pain not fully dissembling :
“ Truth! your Son had prepar'd me not for such a reception,
Who his Father's ways, as a worthy citizen's, painted;
And I know that I stand before a person of culture,
Who to the state of those he accosts still moulds his behavior.
Yet it would seem that ye scarce feel pity enough for a poor maid
Who on your threshold has but just trod, and is ready to serve you ;
Else ye never had sought, with bitter mocking, to show me
How remote my lot from yours and that of your Son's is.
True it is that I came to you poor, my all in my bundle,
Into your house, well stored with all that can serve to your comfort;
But myself I know, and how we stand to each other.
Is it then noble and right to cast such mockery on me
As at my entrance well-nigh scares me back from your threshold ?"
Anxious Herman moved, and unto the Minister sign made
Into the middle to break, and quick to demolish the error.
Soon forth stept the prudent man, and lookt at the Maiden's
Deep offence, and her pain supprest and the tears in her eyelids.
Then did his spirit urge, not straight to dispel the confusion,
But still further to probe the high-wrought soul of the Damsel ;
And forthwith to her then, with words deep-searching, he thus said :
“Surely, O foreigner Maid ! not well in thy thought thou hast weighed, --
When, too basiily all thou resolv'dst to serve with the stranger, -
What it is to enter the house of a lord and a master.
For the fate of the whole of the year is stampt by the hiring,
And when ‘Agreed' is said, most sure you have much to put up with!
That which is hardest to bear is not the wearying task-day,
Nor the sweat, though bitter, of labor pressing on labor,
For full oft he toils who is free, no less than his servant;
But with the master's humor to bear, when he chides thee unjustly,
Or would have now this and now that, with himself disagreeing;
Then the passionate fits of the women, so easily anger'd,
That, and the rudeness and pertness of spoilt and troublesome children,
This it is hard to endure, while still all duties performing
Quick and alert, nor once to show thee sullen or stupid.
Yet for this thou seem'st but unapt, since the jests of the Host here
Wound thee so deeply; and yet it is, sure, nought strange or unfrequent
Jesting a maiden to tease, that she for a youth has a liking."
Thus spoke he. And deeply the Damsel felt what he utter'd, And she refrained no more. Forth burst the tide of her feeling Strong, and her full heart heav'd, and a sob burst forth from her bosom, And with a food of scalding tears thus suddenly said she: “Ah! the prudent man, when he counsels us in our anguish, Little he knows how ill his cold word boots to relieve us From the load of our grief that Providence places upon us ! Ye are happy and gay, and how should a jest give to you pain ! But who is sick at heart, though slight, feels sorely the touching. No! to me 'twere of no avail e'en could I dissemble ; Forth at once come that which, later, bitterer pain were, And might plant in my heart a silent cankering sorrow. Let me hence depart! no longer here may I tarry ; Quick will I now return and seek my desolate people Whom I left in their wo, my own sole profit pursuing. Such is my firm resolve; unshrinking therefore I tell you What had else long years in my heart's recesses been buried. Yea, the Father's jests have deeply wounded me : not that
Proud I and sensitive am, beyond what is meet for a servant :
But that my heart, in truth, was inly aware of a leaning
Towards the Youth who to-day as a kind preserver had sought us.
For when first on the road we parted, still he remained
Firm in my memory fixt; I thought of the bliss of the maiden
Whom already pehaps in his heart, his betrothed, he cherisht.
And when again at the fountain I found him, I drew in a joy from
His dear sight, as if an angel from heav'n were before me.
And so readily with him I went, though sought as a servant.
Yet the fond thought still Aatter'd my heart, (I will not deny it.)
As on the way we came hither, I might at the last, by deserving
Win him., if once I became the needful prop of the household.
But, now alas ! at length my eyes are unclos'd to the danger
Which I had run, while in silence I lived so near to the lov'd One.
Ah, and at last I feel how far the destitute Maiden
Is from the opulent youth, e'en were she the best and discreetest.
All this now have I said, that of me judging ye err not,
Now that my heart, chance-bruised, has taught me to know my own weakness.
For, living on with my secret wish, this too I must look for,
That he at last his selected bride had brought to his homestead;
And how then had I borne the inward pangs of my
Happily now I am warn'd; and happily, loos’d from my breast, the
Veil of mystery falls, while yet the ill may be healed.
And so all is said. And now nought longer shall keep me
In this house, where I stand thus cover'd with pain and confusion,
Freely owning my love, and my hopes so fond and so foolish.
Not the night, and the sky all deep with lowering clouds spread,
Not the roll of the thunder (I hear it) shall hinder my going,
Not the burst of the rain from the sky impetuous pouring,
Not the howl of the storm. All this, already I've borne it,
Join'd with the terrours of flight, and the foeman pressing upon us.
And now again I go forth—such long has my customed course been-
Swept by the stream of the time and parting from all I have clung to.
Fare ye well! I tarry no longer; the struggle is over."
Thus as she spoke she moved her quickly back to the threshold
Under her arm, as she came, her little packet retaining.
But then both her arms the other ew round the Maiden,
Grasping her round her waist, and cried, amaz'd and astonisht:
“What is the meaning of this ? And whence come tears so uncall'd for?
Nay! but I let thee not go; thou art the betroth'd of my Herman."
But thereat the Sire much ruffled stood and displeased,
Lookt at them both as they wept, and drily said as he turned :
“ Even so! this is the beautiful sight at the end of the story!
That the day, for its close, has that which most I recoil from !
For nought worse can I bear than weeping and wailing of women,
Passionate sobs and cries, that make a scene of a matter
Which with an atom of sense might be far easier righted.
Tiresome it is to me, this incomprehensible bus'ness
Further to hear. It may take its course, but I shall to bed go."
And he turn'd him away, in act to go to his chamber,
Where was the bed of the married pair and where he his rest took.
But the Son held him back, and said with hurried accents,
“ Father, be not too hasty, nor angered be with the Maiden !
I alone am to blame for all this train of confusion
Which our Friend has increast, dissembling thus in his seeming.
Worthy sir, speak forth ! for to you I trusted the matter.
Add not trouble and pain, but rather clear up the whole tale !
For it were not in my power so highly hereafter to prize you
If you, admir'd as a wise good man, were a maker of mischief."
Smiling thereat, thus said the worthy Pastor in answer:
“What course other than this had giv'n us the pleasing confession
This good child has made, and shown the truth of her feeling?
Is not thy care all cured, thy sorrow to rapture and joy turn'd ?
Speak then out for thyself? What need of a stranger between you ?"
Then stept Herman forth, and said in friendliest accents :
“Never may'st thou these dear tears rue, these griefs of a moment!
For they the pledge of delight to me ; and I trust too to thee, are.
Not as a servant the aid to gain of the excellent Stranger
Took I my way to the well; I came to sue for thy heart's love.
But, alas for my timorous glance! no trace it discover'd
Of thy leaning of heart; it saw but the visage of friendship
When from the glass of the tranquil well thou gav'st it a greeting.
But to my house to bring thee, already the half of my wish was;
Now thou hast giv'n me the whole! O, therefore blest be thou ever!"
And the Maiden lookt on the Youth with deepened emotion,
Nor did she shun the embrace and the kiss, which the summit of joy are,
When, long inly desir’d, to the pair they come as assurance
Of a future of bliss which, now as it seems, shall be endless.
Meanwhile unto the rest the Minister all had explained. But the Maid came, and before the Sire with a genuine grace stood, And, low bending, kist with affection the hand he retracted, And said : “ Ta'en as I was by surprize, you kindly will pardon First the tears of my pain, and now the tears of my gladness. O forgive me that former feeling! Forgive me the present! And let me feel me secure in the new found joy which is shown me. Yes, let the first offence, which I, bewildered, gave you Likewise be the last! The service, trusty and loving Which the maid had vowed, she trusts as a daughter to render."
Then the Father embrac'd her and hid the tears he was shedding;
Lovingly leant the Mother to them, and heartily kist her;
So, hand shaking in hand, wept on the woman in silence.
Quickly then took the hand the good intelligent Pastor
Of the Host, and drew the wedding-ring from his finger;
(Not with ease; the plump well-rounded member retain'd it ;)
Took the ring of the Mother there with and betrothed the children,
Saying: “Once more have this golden hoop for its office
Firmly a bond to knit, which blessed be as the former.
This Young man is deeply possest with love of the Maiden,
And the Maiden owns that he is the Youth of her wishes.
Therefore thus I betroth you, and bless your union henceforth,
With your Parent's leave, and with your friend as a witness."
And with wishing of joy the Surgeon made his obeisance.
But when the Minister now prepar’d on the hand of the Maid the
Cirelet of gold to place, he saw with wonder the other,
Which before at the well with trouble Herman had notic'd.
And he said thereon, in kind tones playfully chiding,
“How ! thou betrothest thee now to a second ? See that there come not
Thy first bridegroom back to forbid the banns at the altar!"
And she said thereon : "O yet to that mark of remembrance,
Let me a moment devote! for well he deserves my remembrance,
That true friend who gave it parting and never returned.
All did he well foresee, when, urg'd by the ardor of freedom,
Urg'd by desire to act in a world transform’d and renewed,
Eager to Paris he went, and there soon fetters and death found.
- Fare thee well and live happy ! he said: 'I go and I leave thee.
All is in motion on earth ; all things at once are dissever'd.
Nations see their foundation laws reversed in a moment,
Rich possessions quit the grasp of the ancient possessor,
Friend is sever'd from friend ; so love from love is divided.
Here I leave thee now; but where I find thee hereafter
Who can tell? Perhaps we talk thus now for the last time.
Well of a truth it was said that man on earth is a stranger,
And he, in our wild times, a stranger more than of yore is.
Ours is the solid ground no more; our treasures away fly ;
Gold and silver melt from the ancient hallowed figures ;
All is in change, as if the world, with its varied forms, would
Back into Chaos and Night dissolve, new-formed to come forth.
Keep thou thy heart for me; and if we meet as we walk on
Wrecks of a broken world, we meet as regenerate creatures,
Lifted and transform’d, nor more by destiny fetter'd ;
For what chains bind him who times like ours has survived ?
But if it may not be that ever again from these dangers
We, triumphant emerging, embrace each other in gladness,
O do thou keep still in thy thought my image before thee,
That thou with equal soul may’st bear or weal or misfortune.
Does a new home invite, new bands of union draw thee?
Then with gratitude take the good that destiny offers.
Give to the loving thy love, and thank the kind for their kindness.
But e'en so, set lightly thy foot, as easily lifted.
For some fresher loss may lurk, to double thy sorrow.
Sacred deem thy day; yet prize not higher thy life, than
Other gifts that thou hold'st, and gifts may still be deceitful.'-
Thus high-minded he spoke; and back he never returned.
Mean time I lost all; and thought full oft of the warning.
And e'en now do the words come back, when joy for me once more
Love prepares, and Hope spreads forth her loveliest prospects.
O forgive me, my excellent friend, that e'en while I hold thee
Thus by the arm, I quake; to the long time sea-tossed sailor
Seems, when landed, the solidest ground to sway with a motion."
Thus spoke she, and placed the rings on her finger together, And the Bridegroom spoke with a manly accent of feeling : “All the faster bound, amid this loosing of all things,