« ZurückWeiter »
subject, and I pass most evenings with His evident confusion was shared by her. You must learn to know our cousin, Emmy, and she blushed as she held out Emmy, and I am sure you will love her. her hand to him, and said — She is so dear and good, and her patience “I thought you were in the East Indies, with that old hypochondriac is truly won- Bruno." derful, for Uncle Van Stein still goes Bruno slowly recovered his self-possesabout as formerly, with his health under sion, but he did not look at Emmy when his arm; little or no change has taken he said, place there.”
| “I have already been back some weeks. “So, then, I have one more sister to be- My ship came home unexpectedly before come acquainted with. Well, one more or my time was out." He now stood aside to less is all the same to me,” said Emmy let Otto and Emmy pass, and turning back gayly ; “but I wish you happiness with all he walked on with them by Emmy's side my heart, dear Otto !"
without either of them saying a word. Brother and sister now walked on in In fact the rest of the walk was only silence for a little time. Although they along the fronts of some twenty houses. went slowly towards the town, Emmy had “Remember me to your father and hardly time enough to observe, right and mother, Bruno, until I can pay them a left, all the well-known objects which came visit," said Emmy at last, when Bruno had into the foreground of her memory. Here again raised his hat to take leave of them, a house, there a tree, a bridge, a bank—and Otto, going up the flight of steps to a she greeted all with gladness, and no more large house, exclaimed in a hearty manner, regular conversation took place.
“Welcome home, dear little sister !” All the persons they met saluted the ad- The residence of Burgomaster Welters vocate Welters, or were saluted by him, as was an old-fashioned house, built of gray is the habit in a small town ; but with stone. It had only two stories. Of these some special exceptions, in which Otto the upper had the small casement windows helped her memory with long forgotten with which our ancestors were content, names, they were all strangers to Emmy. whilst the lower story was altered accordWhen they reached the market-place in ing to the great window-glass mania with the middle of the town, on their way to which just at that time Dilburg was the street where her father's house was situ- possessed. These great panes were, howated, they met a young man in a light gray ever, so little in accordance with the oldsummer dress, who was coming out of the fashioned whole that it made one think of street somewhat hurriedly, and almost ran a man in new-fashioned clothes who was against them at the corner. He quickly faithful to his periwig and pigtail of the stepped aside, but Otto and Emmy had last century. Even before Otto rang, the already made way for him in the same door opened, and Emmy had barely endirection, so that they again stood before tered the marble passage when a young each other. Otto burst out laughing, and girl darted out from behind the front door, said
threw her arms round Emmy's neck and “Hallo ! Bruno ! not so fast ; don't run kissed her, calling out, in a merry voice, over old friends.”
“Here's a kiss of welcome from ElizaThe young man cast a rapid glance at beth.” Emmy, and a deep blush diffused itself Emmy was somewhat confounded by over his face. He hastily took off his straw this unexpected meeting, but it quite took hat, and muttered a few indistinct words. 'away the feeling of fear and trepidation
e her aloning, clearly sixteen. heen
her along the epily not impressed with ved in silence F
with which she had stood on the well- lips, whilst, much as she tried, she could known threshold.
not keep back her tears. She looked with a smile at the fresh “This is your sister Mina, Emmy,” happy face of Elizabeth, who now went said Mrs. Welters, turning to her eldest before her along the passage, jumping daughter, who was standing by the table rather than running, clearly not impressed with her work in her hand, and who now by the dignity of her age of sixteen. received in silence Emmy's kiss.
“Why, Otto, where have you been Elizabeth helped Emmy to take off her dawdling? I have been listening for the hat and cloak, and Mrs. Welters made carriage this half-hour, and here you come room for her on the sofa, whilst the rest at last, taking it all so quietly. But Otto sat down round the table. is a brother with whom one loses one's In first meetings of this kind, even when patience, Emmy.”
between old and loved friends who meet Otto laughed in answer to Elizabeth's with all possible joy, there is still somebanter, whilst he opened a door at the end thing forced. The heart is full ; each has of the passage, took Emmy's hand under a thousand things to ask and to say, and his arm, and entered with her.
yet on both sides a certain timidity is felt It was a large room with glass doors which makes the conversation turn at first opening into a garden. Near one of these on questions relating to the journey and open doors stood a sofa, with a small table the weather. In Emmy's peculiar position placed before it, at which Mrs. Welters with respect to her new family this impresand her eldest daughter were sitting. sion was still stronger. Mrs. Welters alone
Mrs. Welters was a large stout woman, was entirely at her ease, and kept the conwho, if ever she had been pretty, retained versation going with the greatest calmness. little trace of it. A large nose, and small She inquired of Emmy in the politest piercing eyes ; about the mouth an ex- manner as to her health and her journey ; pression of determination, and on her spoke of the death of the old aunt, the whole appearance a stamp of self-satisfac- warm weather, and the charming summer. tion, which made the first impression of But Emmy gave short and commonplace her not agreeable.
answers. She came forward two steps, whilst Otto, Her heart was so full. She saw, as in a going up to her with Emmy, said, not dream, the same room, in which the sofa without some emotion, “Here is our stood in the same place, and where her Emmy, mamma.”
own mother was lying weak and ill. She Emmy had frequently imagined this remembered a fine day in June like this, meeting. In her thoughts she had thrown when the sun shone as gayly on the flowher arms round her stepmother's neck, and, ers as now; when, just as now, the sumwith a hearty kiss, had asked her for a mer air came in through the open doors, mother's love, of which she felt so greatly with the same scent of mignonette which the want.
now filled the room ; when Otto and she But, as is usually the case, the actual knelt by the sofa, and the last words of event was in no respect like the conception their dying mother were addressed to them. of it.
These recollections overwhelmed her so Herself of moderate height, Emmy that she could hardly listen to her steplooked up at the tall lady who impressed mother, and could not half understand a cold kiss on her forehead, and the words what was said to her ; but all at once she which she had wished to say died on her heard Mrs. Welters utter these words ; “There is your father, Emmy,” and when both much there, and regularly appeared she looked up. and saw him actually at the family dinner-table. coming into the room, she started up out Compared with Otto, William had few of her dream, ran to meet her father, threw friends; and although in Dilburg no one her arms round his neck, and whispered, could say anything against him, yet he “Papa, dear papa ! ” while she burst into was not liked ; no one could exactly say tears.
why, but he was never in request nor
sought after; and yet he was polite and CHAPTER II.
obliging to every one, and did not put a
straw in anybody's way. FIRST IMPRESSIONS.
Was it because he was ugly? No, that A FEW hours later the family were at could not be the reason, for it was just the dinner. The ice of first acquaintance was same at school, where good looks are not broken. Emmy sat between her brother the touchstone of popularity. There inOtto and William de Graaff, who was in-deed opinions were more openly expressed, troduced to her by her father, before for if any of the boys had done anything dinner, with the words : “Here is still wrong secretly, the master always knew it another brother, Emmy."
on the following day in a mysterious manEmmy looked up surprised as she ner, and the whole school declared that greeted William de Graaff, for, in the con-, William de Graaff was the informer, alfusion of making so many new acquaint-though no proof against him ever came to ances, she had entirely forgotten the son of light. Thus, when the time came for him her stepmother, who was not present in to leave school, he was without any friends, the family circle when she arrived. On and since his return to Dilburg he had her first look at him, however, she imme-made no new ones. diately turned her eyes away; and certainly He was silent and reserved in manner. William de Graaff was not attractive at first Most of his evening, after the post-office sight. Tall and stout in figure like his was shut up, he spent at home; but he mother, he had sharp features and thin generally had a book before him, and lips, which he kept fast closed when he seldom took part in the conversation. was not actually speaking. His light red- Such was the person who was introduced dish hair was straight, and his pale gray to Emmy as still another brother. eyes had something dreamy in their ex-! He was extremely polite to Emmy, and pression. Now and then he half closed she soon felt very much at her ease, and them, and there seemed a strange, almost took a lively part in the general conversagreen light in them, changing the whole tion, the subject of which was chiefly the expression of his countenance, and giving it events and recollections of earlier days. a look of slyness which had a repulsive I feel somewhat to blame, in having effect on those who saw him.
passed over the master of the house in William de Graaff was five-and-twenty. my description of the members of the His father, who had been Director of the family ; but my excuse must be a wish to Post Office at Dilburg, had brought him portray him sitting at his dinner-table in up to the same employment; and the the happiest hour of his whole day, and I appointment which his father had formerly shall not have done him injustice if I preheld having become vacant about a year sent him to you at this advantageous mo before, fell to his lot. Like Otto Welters, ment. he did not live at home; but they were! As to his exterior, I can say but little,
kept fast closed light red- Suchommy as still ano polite to
except that he was fat-fearfully fat. His philanthropy which his eyes expressed after : body was fat, his broad cheeks were fat, such a dinner must have been seen in and fat were his small white hands, which order to be intelligibly described. How he folded complacently over his fat stomach. his heart overflowed with gratitude to those
It is assumed that all men have a definite who provided him with the good things, character, and a narrator is required to he alone could know. reflect that character in all its peculiarities; Yes, the evil world declared (but what but I must honestly confess that I am will not men say to each other in a little somewhat at a loss as to the character of town like Dilburg?) that the first idea he Burgomaster Welters.
had of marrying widow De Graaff was Properly speaking, the man's qualities suggested to him by a certain kind of pie, were entirely of a negative kind. He had of which she obstinately kept the secret to not a bad heart; he was not stupid ; he herself, and of which, by his marriage, he had not a bad temper. He was by no became naturally the owner. means a bad husband or father, still less a However this may be, so much is cercareless or incapable Burgomaster of Dil- tain, that, owing to the above-mentioned burg, which town had entrusted its in- idol, the Burgomaster's train of thought terests to him for more than five-and-took a peculiar turn. The idea of the twenty years, and had felt perfectly con- birth of a child came before his mind in tented with his administration ; but that the form of a christening dinner-a marthe reverse of each of the above qualities riage in the form of a déjeuner. was applicable to him in a positive sense I If Germany were mentioned, he thought cannot take upon myself to state.
of Bavarian beer. France reminded him His rule of life was, to let “God's of Veuve Cliquot, and Strasbourg of pâté water flow over God's field”-to take the de foie gras. If any one spoke of the gloriworld as he found it—and, if the truth ous summer, he thought of early vegetables must be told, “to howl with the wolves and fruit; in a word, life presented to for the sake of peace and quietness.” Burgomaster Welters an ever fresh and Since he had married his present wife, or, changing picture, which any one with a to speak more correctly,, since she had smaller stomach and a larger heart could married him, he had given up into her hardly have imagined. hands the whole domestic administration, With his wife, Mr. Welters lived in the and it probably went on no worse for that most beautiful harmony. She decided ; But besides the negative qualities of Burgo- he confirmed, or at least did so in apmaster Welters, above mentioned, I have pearance, for Mrs. Welters was clever reserved for the last one that was positive, enough carefully to keep up that appearbecause it was the key to his whole charac-lance, even when the reality was not ter. .
always present. “Welters and I think He had one idol which he worshipped this or that right,” was a form of speech with all the strength of his heart and soul, which she had made her own, although and on whose altar he would, in case of this was often the first word which her necessity, have sacrificed everything be- husband heard about the matter in queslonging to him. That idol was his belly. tion. But as he was quite satisfied we What a good dinner was to Burgomaster are not called upon to make any remark Welters no words' can tell ; it was the upon it. realization of all his dreams and wishes. It could not be denied that Mrs. Wel
The content of soul and the feeling oflters had a good, clear understanding. A
strength of will, such as is not often found she might enter the age of three crosses. in a woman, made every one in the family She was besides plain rather than pretty, subject to her, and thus enabled her to and in these two things lay the whole hisaccomplish her will without opposition. tory of her woes. To be old and ugly is What she had once undertaken she carried for a “young lady” undoubtedly disaout irrevocably.
greeable—very disagreeable in itself, but to On a certain day she formed the inten-be old and ugly, and to wish to appear tion of bettering her position of widow-young and pretty, to attract attention, to hood by marrying the well-to-do Burgo-make conquests—this is a misfortune for master Welters, and before six months which, as for many another, one has to had passed, she and her children had thank one's own folly; but it is still a misentered his dwelling. The children, who fortune, for all that. felt for her more respect than love, were Mina had also a life's dream which never on that confidential footing with her hitherto had not been realized. She was which one so wishes to see between mo- not exorbitant in her wishes; it was simply ther and child, and which generally exer- that she desired a companion in her journey cises such a salutary influence on the through this world of sorrow; and, although formation of character.
it seems easy to some to accomplish this, The one who was least in awe of her Mina had not yet had the satisfaction of strict mother was the young Elizabeth, seeing her efforts crowned with success. born long after the others, and indeed! Her endeavors had taken all possible after her parents had already determined forms in the ten years which she had already to put away the cradle into the loft. She sacrificed in the fruitless chase. The older was the acknowledged favorite of her she became, the more she tried to attain mother. In her youthful playfulness she her end by gaudy, fashionable dress ; but was often allowed to do things which, had the men had been, and continued to be, they been done by Mina or William in insensible to all the bonnets and hats, the their childhood, would have brought down endless jackets and flounces, which she upon them severe punishment or sharp employed towards the furthering of the reproof.
good cause. She had almost entangled in But from a child Elizabeth was irresisti- her nets a lieutenant, a captain, a landed bly lively and good-humored. She looked proprietor, and even a professor ; but, in at the world with a merry, arch face; she one way or another, they had all been able contemplated life on its most roseate side ; to escape before the knot was tied, and as and was so contented with everything and yet no one had spoken the important word, everybody, that one could not be angry and Mina was still Mina de Graaff. with her, but one involuntarily joined in Her mind was embittered by all her her laugh instead of giving her the scold- disappointments, and her temper had sufing intended for her. A few weeks before fered much, but she had not yet lost heart. Emmy's return home she had left school, As long as there is life there is hope, she not much to the satisfaction of her sister reasoned, and as her eyes became duller, her Mina, who had her own reasons for wish- complexion sallower, her features sharper, ing Elizabeth to be considered still a her dress was proportionally younger and child.
gayer in order to make up for short-comings. For Mina de Graaff was so far beyond But with all her follies, Mina was wise twenty, and so close upon thirty, that a enough to understand that a single lady very small step was necessary in order that has more chance of marrying in the first