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- Stories by Foreign Authors: German - 1/29 -
STORIES BY FOREIGN AUTHORS
THE FURY ...... BY PAUL HEYSE
THE PHILOSOPHER'S PENDULUM ...... BY RUDOLPH LINDAU
THE BOOKBINDER OF HORT........BY LEOPOLD VON SACHER-MASOCH
THE EGYPTIAN FIRE-EATER........BY RUDOLPH BAUMBACH
THE CREMONA VIOLIN ........BY E.T. . HOFFMANN
ADVENTURES Of A NEW-YEAR'S EVE...... BY HEINRICH ZSCHOKKE
From "Tales from the German of Paul Heyse"
The day had scarcely dawned. Over Vesuvius hung one broad gray stripe of mist, stretching across as far as Naples, and darkening all the small towns along the coast. The sea lay calm. Along the shore of the narrow creek that lies beneath the Sorrento cliffs, fishermen and their wives were at work already, some with giant cables drawing their boats to land, with the nets that had been cast the night before, while others were rigging their craft, trimming the sails, or fetching out oars and masts from the great grated vaults that have been built deep into the rocks for shelter to the tackle overnight. Nowhere an idle hand; even the very aged, who had long given up going to sea, fell into the long chain of those who were hauling in the nets. Here and there, on some flat housetop, an old woman stood and spun, or busied herself about her grandchildren, whom their mother had left to help her husband.
"Do you see, Rachela? yonder is our padre curato," said one to a little thing of ten, who brandished a small spindle by her side; "Antonio is to row him over to Capri. Madre Santissima! but the reverend signore's eyes are dull with sleep!" and she waved her hand to a benevolent-looking little priest, who was settling himself in the boat, and spreading out upon the bench his carefully tucked-up skirts.
The men upon the quay had dropped their work to see their pastor off, who bowed and nodded kindly, right and left.
"What for must he go to Capri, granny?" asked the child. "Have the people there no priest of their own, that they must borrow ours?"
"Silly thing!" returned the granny. "Priests they have in plenty-- and the most beautiful of churches, and a hermit too, which is more than we have. But there lives a great signora, who once lived here; she was so very ill! Many's the time our padre had to go and take the Most Holy to her, when they thought she could not live the night. But with the Blessed Virgin's help she got strong and well, and was able to bathe every day in the sea. When she went away, she left a fine heap of ducats behind her for our church, and for the poor; and she would not go, they say, until our padre promised to go and see her over there, that she might confess to him as before. It is quite wonderful, the store she lays by him! Indeed, and we have cause to bless ourselves for having a curato who has gifts enough for an archbishop, and is in such request with all the great folks. The Madonna be with him!" she cried, and waved her hand again, as the boat was about to put from shore.
"Are we to have fair weather, my son?" inquired the little priest, with an anxious look toward Naples.
"The sun is not yet up," the young man answered; "when he comes, he will easily do for that small trifle of mist."
"Off with you, then! that we may arrive before the heat."
Antonio was just reaching for his long oar to shove away the boat, when suddenly he paused, and fixed his eyes upon the summit of the steep path that leads down from Sorrento to the water. A tall and slender girlish figure had become visible upon the heights, and was now hastily stepping down the stones, waving her handkerchief She had a small bundle under her arm, and her dress was mean and poor. Yet she had a distinguished if somewhat savage way of throwing back her head, and the dark tress wreathed around it was like a diadem.
"What have we to wait for?" inquired the curato.
"There is some one coming who wants to go to Capri--with your permission, padre. We shall not go a whit the slower. It is a slight young thing, but just eighteen."
At that moment the young girl appeared from behind the wall that bounds the winding path.
"Laurella!" cried the priest; "and what has she to do in Capri?"
Antonio shrugged his shoulders. She came up with hasty steps, her eyes fixed straight before her.
"Ha! l'Arrabiata! good-morning!" shouted one or two of the young boatmen. But for the curato's presence, they might have added more; the look of mute defiance with which the young girl received their welcome appeared to tempt the more mischievous among them.
"Good-day, Laurella!" now said the priest; "how are you? Are you coming with us to Capri?"
"If I may, padre."
"Ask Antonio there; the boat is his. Every man is master of his own, I say, as God is master of us all."
"There is half a carlino, if I may go for that?" said Laurella, without looking at the young boatman.
"You need it more than I," he muttered, and pushed aside some orange-baskets to make room: he was to sell the oranges in Capri, which little isle of rocks has never been able to grow enough for all its visitors.
"I do not choose to go for nothing," said the girl, with a slight frown of her dark eyebrows.
"Come, child," said the priest; "he is a good lad, and had rather not enrich himself with that little morsel of your poverty. Come now, and step in," and he stretched out his hand to help her, "and sit you down by me. See, now, he has spread his jacket for you, that you may sit the softer. Young folks are all alike; for one little maiden of eighteen they will do more than for ten of us reverend fathers. Nay, no excuse, Tonino. It is the Lord's own doing, that like and like should hold together."
Meantime Laurella had stepped in, and seated herself beside the padre, first putting away Antonio's jacket without a word. The young fellow let it lie, and, muttering between his teeth, he gave one vigorous push against the pier, and the little boat flew out into the open bay.
"What are you carrying there in that little bundle?" inquired the padre, as they were floating on over a calm sea, now just beginning to be lighted up with the earliest rays of the rising sun. "Silk, thread, and a loaf, padre. The silk is to be sold at Anacapri, to a woman who makes ribbons, and the thread to another."
"Spun by yourself?"
"You once learned to weave ribbons yourself, if I remember right?"
"I did, sir; but mother has been much worse, and I cannot stay so long from home; and a loom to ourselves we are not rich enough to buy."
"Worse, is she? Ah! dear, dear! when I was with you last, at Easter, she was up."
"The spring is always her worst time. Ever since those last great storms, and the earthquakes she has been forced to keep her bed from pain."
"Pray, my child. Never slacken your prayers and petitions that the Blessed Virgin may intercede for you; and be industrious and good, that your prayers may find a hearing."
After a pause: "When you were coming toward the shore, I heard them calling after you. 'Good-morning, l'Arrabiata!' they said. What made them call you so? It is not a nice name for a young Christian maiden, who should be meek and mild."
The young girl's brown face glowed all over, while her eyes flashed fire.
"They always mock me so, because I do not dance and sing, and stand about to chatter, as other girls do. I might be left in peace, I think; I do THEM no harm."
"Nay, but you might be civil. Let others dance and sing, on whom this life sits lighter; but a kind word now and then is seemly even from the most afflicted."
Her dark eyes fell, and she drew her eyebrows closer over them, as if she would have hidden them.
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