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- The Burgomaster's Wife, Volume 4. - 6/13 -


"With the blue feather," replied the widow.

"And he has curls, curls as long as Assendelft's little Clara. May I go with you to see Cousin Henrica?"

"Afterwards, perhaps," replied Maria. "Go now, children, get the flowers and separate them carefully from the leaves. Trautchen will bring some hoops and strings, and then we'll bind the wreaths."

Junker Georg's remark, that this was a lucky day, seemed to be verified; for the young wife found Henrica bright and free from pain. With the doctor's permission, she had walked up and down her room several times, sat a longer time at the open window, relished her chicken, and when Maria entered, was seated in the softly-cushioned arm-chair, rejoicing in the consciousness of increasing strength.

Maria was delighted at her improved appearance, and told her how well she looked that day.

"I can return the compliment," replied Henrica. "You look very happy. What has happened to you?"

"To me? Oh! my husband was more cheerful than usual, and there was a great deal to tell at dinner. I've only come to enquire for your health. I will see you later. Now I must go with the children to a sorrowful task."

"With the children? What have the little elf and Signor Salvatore to do with sorrow?"

"Captain Allertssohn will be buried to-morrow, and we are going to make some wreaths for the coffin."

"Make wreaths!" cried Henrica, "I can teach you that! There, Trautchen, take the plate and call the little ones."

The servant went away, but Maria said anxiously: "You will exert yourself too much again, Henrica."

"I? I shall be singing again to-morrow. My preserver's potion does wonders, I assure you. Have you flowers and oak-leaves enough?"

"I should think so."

At the last words the door opened and Bessie cautiously entered the room, walking on tiptoe as she had been told, went up to Henrica, received a kiss from her, and then asked eagerly:

"Cousin Henrica, do you know? Junker Georg, with the blue feather, is coming again to-morrow and will dine with us."

"Junker Georg?" asked the young lady.

Maria interrupted the child's reply, and answered in an embarrassed tone:

"Herr von Domburg, an officer who came to the city with the Englishmen, of whom I spoke to you--a German--an old acquaintance. Go and arrange the flowers with Adrian, Bessie, then I'll come and help you."

"Here, with Cousin Henrica," pleaded the child.

"Yes, little elf, here; and we'll both make the loveliest wreath you ever saw."

The child ran out, and this time, in her delight, forgot to shut the door gently.

The young wife gazed out of the window. Henrica watched her silently for a time and then exclaimed:

"One word, Frau Maria. What is going on in the court-yard? Nothing? And what has become of the happy light in your eyes? Your house isn't swarming with guests; why did you wait for Bessie to tell me about Junker Georg, the German, the old acquaintance?"

"Let that subject drop, Henrica."

"No, no! Do you know what I think? The storm of war has blown to your house the young madcap, with whom you spent such happy hours at your sister's wedding. Am I right or wrong? You needn't blush so deeply."

"It is he," replied Maria gravely. "But if you love me, forget what I told you about him, or deny yourself the idle amusement of alluding to it, for if you should still do so, it would offend me."

"Why should I! You are the wife of another."

"Of another whom I honor and love, who trusts me and himself invited the Junker to his house. I have liked the young man, admired his talents, been anxious when he trifled with his life as if it were a paltry leaf, which is flung into the river."

"And now that you have seen him again, Maria?"

"Now I know, what my duty is. Do you see, that my peace here is not disturbed by idle gossip."

"Certainly not, Maria; yet I am still curious about this Chevalier Georg and his singing. Unfortunately we shan't be long together. I want to go home."

"The doctor will not allow you to travel yet."

"No matter. I shall go as soon as I feel well enough. My father is refused admittance, but your husband can do much, and I must speak with him."

"Will you receive him to-morrow?"

"The sooner the better, for he is your husband and, I repeat, the ground is burning under my feet."

"Oh!" exclaimed Maria.

"That sounds very sad," cried Henrica. "Do you want to hear, that I shall find it hard to leave you? I shouldn't go yet; but my sister Anna, she is now a widow--Thank God, I should like to say, but she is suffering want and utterly deserted. I must speak to my father about her, and go forth from the quiet haven into the storm once more."

"My husband will come to you," said Maria.

"That's right, that's right! Come in, children! Put the flowers on the table yonder. You, little elf, sit down on the stool and you, Salvatore, shall give me the flowers. What does this mean? I really believe the scamp has been putting perfumed oil on his curly head. In honor of me, Salvatore? Thank you!--We shall need the hoops later. First we'll make bouquets, and then bind them with the leaves to the wood. Sing me a song while we are working, Maria. The first one! I can bear it to-day."

CHAPTER XXIII.

Half Leyden had followed the brave captain's coffin, and among the other soldiers, who rendered the last honors to the departed, was Georg von Dornburg. After the funeral, the musician Wilhelm led the son of the kind comrade, whom so many mourned, to his house. Van der Werff found many things to be done after the burial, but reserved the noon hour; for he expected the German to dine.

The burgomaster, as usual, sat at the head of the table; the Junker had taken his place between him and Maria, opposite to Barbara and the children.

The widow never wearied of gazing at the young man's fresh, bright face, for although her son could not compare with him in beauty, there was an honest expression in the Junker's eyes, which reminded her of her Wilhelm.

Many a question and answer had already been exchanged between those assembled round the board, many a pleasant memory recalled, when Peter, after the dishes had been removed and a new jug with better wine placed on the table, filled the young nobleman's glass again, and raised his own.

"Let us drink this bumper," he cried, gazing at Georg with sincere pleasure in his eyes, "let us drink to the victory of the good cause, for which you too voluntarily draw your sword. Thanks for the vigorous pledge. Drinking is also an art, and the Germans are masters of it."

"We learn it in various places, and not worst at the University of Jena."

"All honor to the doctors and professors, who bring their pupils up to the standard of my dead brother-in-law, and judging from this sample drink, you also."

"Leonhard was my teacher in the 'ars bibendi.' How long ago it is!"

"Youth is not usually content," replied Peter, "but when the point in question concerns years, readily calls 'much,' what seems to older people 'little.' True, many experiences may have been crowded into the last few years of your life. I can still spare an hour, and as we are all sitting so cosily together here, you can tell us, unless you wish to keep silence on the subject, how you chanced to leave your distant home for Holland, and your German and Latin books to enlist under the English standard."

"Yes," added Maria, without any trace of embarrassment. "You still owe me the story. Give thanks, children, and then go."

Adrian gazed beseechingly first at his mother and then at his father, and as neither forbade him to stay, moved his chair close to his sister, and both leaned their heads together and listened with wide open eyes, while the Junker first quietly, then with increasing vivacity, related the following story:

"You know that I am a native of Thuringia, a mountainous country in the heart of Germany. Our castle is situated in a pleasant valley, through which a clear river flows in countless windings. Wooded mountains, not so high as the giants in Switzerland, yet by no means contemptible, border the narrow boundaries of the valley. At their feet the fields and meadows, at a greater height rise pine forests, which, like the huntsman, wear green robes at all seasons of the year. In winter, it is true, the snow cover them with a glimmering white sheet. When spring comes, the pines put forth new shoots, as fresh and full of sap as the budding foliage of your oaks and beeches, and in the meadows by the river it begins to snow in the warm breezes, for then one fruit-tree blooms beside another, and when the wind rises, the delicate white petals flutter


The Burgomaster's Wife, Volume 4. - 6/13

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