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Fritz and Eric - The Brother Crusoes
by John Conroy Hutcheson
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"Just so, that is good; and how do you feel this afternoon, eh?"

"Much better."

"Ah yes, so I see! You will go on improving, if you take plenty of food. I bet that in a week's time I shall be able to turn you out of these nice quarters here."

So saying, the surgeon bustled out of the room, with a kind nod to his patient and a bow to Madaleine, who was shortly afterwards summoned by a servant to the baroness—the footman telling her that her ladyship requested her presence at once.

She returned later on, but it was only for a very brief interval, to say good-bye. The Princess of Alten-Schlossen, she said, was about to leave Mezieres immediately for Germany, and the baroness could not think of staying behind, even for the charitable consideration of nursing any more wounded, if the exalted lady, whose actions traced the pattern for her own conduct, thought fit to go away! Madaleine, therefore, had orders to pack up all the old dowager's numerous belongings, being also given permission to make any arrangements she pleased for the poor fellows who remained in the villa, in order to have them handed over to the regular authorities, now that this amateur ambulance of the baroness was going to abandon its voluntary labours.

"It's a shame," said Madaleine indignantly. "It is like putting one's hand to the plough and then turning back!"

"Never mind, Fraulein, do not fret yourself," interposed Fritz. "The old lady has done some good by starting this hospital here, even if she did it in imitation of the Princess; and, although she may now give it up, it will be carried on all right by others, you see if it won't! As I am getting well, too, and will have to go, as the doctor says; why, I shall not regret it as I should otherwise have done."

"Oh, you selfish fellow!" said she, smiling. "Now you have been attended to and nursed into convalescence, you do not care what becomes of those who may come after you!"

"Not quite so bad as that," replied Fritz; "only, as I shall be away serving with my regiment, I should prefer to think of you ensconced in the quiet security of the baroness' castle on the Rhine, to being here amidst the excitement of the war and in the very thick of bands of stragglers to and from the front."

"Especially since I would lose your valuable protection!" laughed Madaleine.

"Ah, wait till I get up and am strong!" said Fritz. "When you see me again, I promise to be able to protect you."

"Aye, when!" repeated the girl with a sigh. "However, I must say good- bye now, Herr Lieutenant I have told our man Hans, whom the baroness leaves behind, to see that you want for nothing until you shall be able to attend to yourself. I'm sorry you'll have no female nurse now to look after you."

"I wouldn't let another woman come near me after you go!" exclaimed Fritz impulsively. "Mind, you have promised to write to me, you know."

"Yes," said she, "I will answer your letters; and now, good-bye! Don't forget me quite when you get amongst the gay ladies of Paris, who will quite eclipse your little German nurse!"

"Never!" he ejaculated. "Good-bye, till we meet again!" and he pressed her hand to his lips, looking up into her eyes.

"Good-bye!" said she in a husky voice, turning away; when the dog, which had been lying down in his usual place by his master's bedside, started up, "Good-bye you, too, my darling 'Fritz'!" she added, throwing her arms round the retriever's neck and kissing his smooth black head; "I nearly forgot you, dearest doggie, I do declare!"

"Heavens!" exclaimed the other Fritz, mortally jealous of his dog for the moment, "I wish you would only say farewell to me like that!"

Madaleine blushed a celestial rosy red.

But "Auf wiedersehen!" was all she said, as she left the room with a speaking glance from her violet eyes; and, towards the evening, from the confused bustling about which he heard going on within the villa, and the sound of carriage wheels without driving off, Fritz knew that the Baroness Stolzenkop and her party—amongst whom, of course, was Madaleine—had quitted Mezieres, on their way back to the banks of the Rhine.



CHAPTER TEN.

ON THE MOVE AGAIN.

"I wonder if she cares about that French fellow still?" thought Fritz to himself when Madaleine had gone. "I don't believe she could have felt for him much, from the manner in which she listened when I told her of his death and the way she looked at that ring. Himmel! Would she receive the news of my being shot in the same fashion, I wonder?"

Fritz, however, could not settle this momentous question satisfactorily to his own mind just then; so he had, consequently, to leave the matter to be decided at that blissful period when everybody thought that "everything would come straight"—the period to which he had alluded at the interesting instant when his slightly confidential conversation with Madaleine was so inopportunely interrupted by the maladroit entrance of Doctor Carl. In other words, "when the war should be over!" But, as the worthy disciple of Aesculapius had sapiently remarked on the occasion of his accidental interference with what might have been otherwise a mutual understanding between the two, the war was not over yet. The halcyon time had not arrived for the sword to be beaten into a ploughshare, nor did there seem much prospect of such a happy contingency in the near immediate future; for, although the contest had already lasted three months—during which a series of terrible engagements had invariably resulted in the defeat of the French—from the commencement of the campaign to the capitulation of Metz, each crushing disaster only seemed to have the effect of nerving the Gallic race to fresh resistance and so prolong the struggle. Indeed, at the beginning of November, 1870, with Paris laughing the idea of a siege to scorn and new armies being rapidly organised, in the north at Saint Quentin, in the west at Havre, and in the south at Orleans, the end of the war appeared as far off as ever!

Fritz missed the attentions of his unwearying little nurse much, and his convalescence did not progress so rapidly in consequence; but one morning, some three weeks after the departure of the party of the baroness' from Mezieres, he was agreeably surprised by Doctor Carl giving him permission to rejoin his corps.

"I don't quite think you exactly strong enough yet, you know; but I've received orders to clear out the hospitals here, sending forward all such as are fit to their respective regiments, while those not sufficiently recovered I am to invalid to Germany. Now, which is it to be, Herr Lieutenant? I candidly don't believe you're quite up to the mark for campaigning again yet; but still, perhaps, you would not like being put on the shelf, and no doubt you'd gain strength from the change of air as you moved on with the army. Which course will you select, Herr Lieutenant? I give you the choice."

"To rejoin my regiment, certainly, doctor!" answered Fritz, without a moment's hesitation. "I'm tired of doing nothing here, and I fancy I've been well enough to move for the past fortnight."

"Ah, permit me to be the best judge of that, young man," said the other. "No doubt you feel wonderfully strong just now! Can you lift this chair, do you think, eh?"

"Certainly," replied Fritz, laying his hand on the slight little article of furniture the doctor had pointed out with his cane, and which he could have easily held up with one finger when in the possession of his proper strength. He was quite indignant, indeed, with Doctor Carl for suggesting such a feeble trial for him, as if he were a child; but, much to his astonishment, he found that he was utterly unable to raise the chair from the ground. Besides which, he quite panted after the exertion, just as if he had been endeavouring to lift a ton weight!

"Ha, what did I say, Herr Lieutenant?" said the surgeon with a laugh. "You will now allow, I suppose, that we doctors know best as to what is good for our patients! But, come, you will not be wanted to raise or carry about a greater weight than yourself until you come up with your regiment, which is now with Manteuffel's division near Amiens, for, by that time, you'll be yourself again. I'll now go and sign your certificate and papers, so that you may get ready to start as soon as you like."

"Hurrah!" exclaimed Fritz. "It is 'Forwards' again—the very word puts fresh life in me!" and, trying once more, he lifted the chair this time with ease. "You see, Herr Doctor, I can do it now!"

"Ah, there's nothing like hope and will!" said the doctor, bustling out of the room—which Fritz, unlike many poor victims of the war, had had entirely to himself, instead of being only one amongst hundreds of others in a crowded hospital ward. "By the time you join your comrades again, you'll be double the man you were before you came under my care!"

"Thanks to you, dear doctor," shouted out Fritz after him in cordial tones; and he then proceeded to overhaul his somewhat dilapidated uniform to see whether it was in order for him to don once more.

On the termination of the siege of Metz, by its capitulation at the end of October, the large German force which had been employed up till then in the investment of Marshal Bazaine's entrenched camp before the fortress, became released for other duties; thus enabling Von Moltke, the great strategical head of the Teuton legions, to develop his plans for the complete subjugation of the country.

In accordance, therefore, with these arrangements, two army corps, each of some thirty thousand men, proceeded at once to aid the hosts encircling Paris with fire and steel; while two more corps were led by Prince Frederick Charles towards the south of France, where they arrived in the nick of time to assist the Duke of Mecklenburgh and the defeated Bavarians under Van der Tann in breaking up the formidable army of the Loire commanded by Chanzy, which had very nearly succeeded in altering the condition of the war; the remainder of the German investing force from Metz were sent northwards, under Manteuffel, in the direction of Brittany and the departments bordering on the English Channel, so as to crush out all opposition there.

With this latter force marched the regiment of our friend Fritz, which he was able to rejoin about the beginning of December at Amiens, where were established the headquarters of General Manteuffel, the present commander of the first army—"Old Blood and Iron."

Steinmetz having been shelved, it was said, on account of his age and infirmities, he having fought at Waterloo, but more probably on account of his rather lavish sacrifice of his men, especially at Gravelotte. This force kept firm hold of Normandy with a strong hand, threatening Dieppe and Havre on either side.

Fritz had a tedious journey to the front.

Partly by railway where practicable, and partly by roads that were blocked by the heavy siege guns and waggon loads of ammunition going forwards for the use of the force besieging Paris, the young lieutenant made his way onwards in company with a reserve column of Landwehr proceeding to fill up casualties in Manteuffel's ranks—the journey not being rendered any the more agreeable by the frequent attacks suffered from franc-tireurs when passing through the many woods and forests encountered on the route, in addition to meeting straggling bands of the enemy, who opposed the progress of the column the more vigorously as it abandoned the main roads leading from the frontier and struck across country.

It was not by any means a pleasure trip; but, putting all perils aside, regarding them merely as the vicissitudes of a soldier's lot, what impressed Fritz more than anything else was the ruin and devastation which, following thus in the rear of a triumphant army, he everywhere noticed.

The towns he entered on his way had most of their shops shut, and the windows of the private houses were closed, as if in sympathy with a national funeral, those which had been bombarded—and these were many— having, besides, their streets blocked up with fallen masonry and scattered beams of timber, their church steeples prostrate, and the walls of buildings perforated with round shot and bursting shells that had likewise burnt and demolished the roofs; while, in the more open country, the farms and villages had been swept away as if with a whirlwind of fire, only bare gables and blackened rafters staring up into the clouds, like the skeletons of what were once happy homes. The vineyards and fields and gardens around were destroyed and running to waste in the most pitiful way, for every one connected with them, who had formerly cherished and tended them with such care and attention, had either been killed or else sought safety in flight to the cities, where their refuge was equally precarious. Along the highway, the trees, whose branches once gave such grateful shade to wayfarers, were now cut down, only rows of hideous, half-consumed stumps remaining in their stead; while here and there, as the scene of some great battle was passed, great mounds like oblong bases of flattened pyramids rose above the surface of the devastated plain—mounds under whose frozen surface lay the mouldering bodies of thousands of brave men who had fallen on the bloody field, their last resting-place unmarked by sepulchral cross or monumental marble. Everywhere there was terrible evidence of the effects of war and the price of that "glory" which, the poet sings truly, "leads but to the grave!"

Fritz was sickened with it all; but, what struck his keen sense of honour and honesty more, was the wholesale pillage and robbery permitted by the German commanders to be exercised by their soldiery on the defenceless peasantry of France. A cart which he overhauled, proceeding back to the frontier, contained such wretched spoil as women's clothes, a bale of coffee, a quantity of cheap engravings and chimney ornaments, an old-fashioned kitchen clock, with an arm-chair—the pride of some fireside corner—a quantity of copper, and several pairs of ear-rings, such as are sold for a few sous in the Palais Royale!

The sight of this made his blood boil, and Fritz got into some trouble with a colonel of Uhlans by ordering the contents of the cart to be at once confiscated and burnt, the huckster being on the good books of that officer—doubtless as a useful collector of curios!

It was a current report amongst the French at the time that the German army was followed by a tribe of Jew speculators, who purchased from the soldiers the plunder that they certainly could not themselves expect to carry back to their own country; and this incident led Fritz to believe the rumour well founded.

"Heavens, little mother," as he wrote home subsequently to Madame Dort, after his experience of what went on at headquarters under his new commander. "I do not fear the enemy; but the only thing which will do us any harm, God willing that we come safely home, is that we shall not be able to distinguish between mine and thine, the 'meum' and 'tuum' taught us at school, for we shall be all thorough thieves; that is to say, we are ordered to take—'requisition' they call it—everything that we can find and that we can use. This does not confine itself alone to food for the horses and people, but to every piece of portable property, not an absolute fixture, which, if of any value, we are directed to appropriate and 'nail' fast!

"Through the desertion of most of the castles here in the neighbourhood by their legitimate proprietors, the entry to all of them is open to us; and now everything is taken out of them that is worth taking at all. The wine-cellars in particular are searched; and I may say that our division has drank more champagne on its own account than I ever remember to have seen in the district of Champagne, when I visited it last year before the war.

"In the second place, our light-fingered forces carry off all the horses we can take with us; all toilet things, glasses, stockings, brushes, boots and shoes, linen—in a word, everything is 'stuck to!'

"The officers, I may add, are no exception to the private soldiers, but steal in their proper precedence, appropriating whatever objects of art or pictures of value they can find in the mansions we visit in these archaeological tours of ours. Only yesterday, the adjutant of my regiment, a noble by birth, but I am sorry to say not a gentleman either by manners or moral demeanour, came to me and said, 'Fritz Dort, do me the favour to steal for me all the loot you can bring me. We will at all events show Moltke that he has not sent us into this war for nothing.' Of course, this being an order from a superior officer, I could not say anything but 'At your command, your highness!' But what will come of it all only God knows! I'm afraid, when there is nothing left to lay our hands on, we will begin to appropriate the goods and chattels of each other; although, little mother, I will endeavour to keep my fingers clean, if only for your sake!"

Fritz, however, soon had something more exciting to think about than the morals of his comrades; for, only a few days after he joined his regiment, he went into action again at the battle of Amiens, when the Germans drove back Faidherbe's "army of the north," routing them with much slaughter, and taking many prisoners, besides thirteen cannon. A French regiment of marines was ridden down by a body of German Hussars, who were almost decimated by the charge—which resembled that of Balaclava, the "sea soldiers" standing behind entrenchments with their guns.

Later on, too, Fritz was in a more memorable engagement. It occurred on the morning of the 23rd of December at Pont Noyelles, where the army of General Manteuffel, numbering about fifty thousand men with some forty guns, attacked a force of almost double the strength, commanded by Faidherbe, the last of the generals on whom the French relied outside of Paris. The two armies confronted each other from opposing heights, separated by the valley of the Somme and a small, winding stream, which falls into the larger river at Daours, on the right and left banks of which the contending forces were respectively aligned; and the combat opened about eleven o'clock in the forenoon with a heavy cannonade, under cover of which the German tirailleurs smartly advanced and took possession of several small villages, although the French shortly afterwards drove them out of these at the point of the bayonet, exhibiting great gallantry. In the evening, both armies rested in the same positions they had occupied at the commencement of the fight; but, although the French greatly outnumbered their antagonists, being especially superior in artillery, the fire of which had considerably thinned the German ranks, they did nothing the whole of the succeeding day. On the contrary, they rested in a state of complete inactivity, when, if they had but pushed forwards, they might have compelled the retreat of Manteuffel.

The next morning was that of Christmas Day.

Fritz could not but remember it, in spite of his surroundings, for he received a small parcel by the field post, containing some warm woollen socks knitted by Lorischen's own fair fingers, and sent to him in order "to prevent his appropriating those of the poor French peasantry," as he had intimated might be the case with him in his last letter home, should he be in need of such necessaries and not have any of his own. His good mother, too, did not forget him, nor did a certain young lady who resided at Darmstadt.

It was the morning of Christmas Day; but not withstanding its holy and peaceful associations, Fritz and every one else in Manteuffel's army corps expected that the anniversary would be celebrated in blood. Judge of their surprise, however, when, as the day advanced, the vedettes and outposts they sent ahead returned with the strange intelligence that the enemy had abandoned the highly advantageous ground they had selected on Pont Noyelles, retiring on Arras.

The news was almost too good to be true; but, nevertheless, the German cavalry were soon on the alert, pursuing the retreating force and slaughtering thousands in the chase—thus Christmas Day was passed!

The new year opened with more fighting for Fritz; for, on the 2nd of January, occurred the battle of Bapaume, and on the 19th of the same month the more disastrous engagement for the French of Saint Quentin, which finally crumbled up "the army of the north" under Faidherbe, which at one time almost looked as if it would have succeeded in raising the siege of Paris, by diverting the attention of the encircling force. However, in neither of these actions did Fritz either get wounded or gain additional promotion; and from thence, up to the close of the war, his life in the invaded country was uneventful and without interest.

Yes, to him; for he was longing to return home.

"Going to the war" had lost all its excitement for him, the carnage of the past months and the sorrowful scenes he had witnessed having fairly satiated him with "glory" and all the horrors which follow in its train.

Now, he was fairly hungering for home, and the quiet of the old household at Lubeck with his "little mother" and Lorischen—not forgetting Mouser, to make home more homelike and enjoyable, for Fritz thought how he would have to teach Gelert, who had likewise escaped scathless throughout the remainder of the campaign in the north of France, to be on friendly terms with the old nurse's pet cat.

He was thinking of some one else too; for, lately, the letters of Madaleine had stopped, although she had previously corresponded with him regularly. He could not make out the reason for her silence. One despatch might certainly have been lost in transmission through the field post; but for three or four—as would have been the case if she had responded in due course to his effusions, which were written off to Darmstadt each week without fail—to miss on the journey, was simply impossible!

Some treachery must be at work; or else, Madaleine was ill; or, she had changed her mind towards him.

Which of these reasons caused her silence?

It was probably, he thought, the former which he had to thank for his anxiety; and the cause, he was certain, was the baroness. What blessings he heaped on her devoted head!

It was in this frame of mind that Fritz awaited the end of the war.



CHAPTER ELEVEN.

A PLEASANT SURPRISE!

That winter was the dullest ever known in the little household of the Gulden Strasse, and the coldest experienced for years in Lubeck—quiet town of cold winters, situated as it is on the shores of the ice-bound Baltic!

It was such bitter, inclement weather, with the thermometer going down to zero and the snow freezing as it fell, that neither Madame Dort nor old Lorischen went out of the house more than they could help; and, as for Mouser, he lived and slept and miaow-wowed in close neighbourhood to the stove in the parlour, not even the temptation of cream inducing him to leave the protection of its enjoyable warmth. For him, the mice might ravage the cupboards below the staircase, his whilom happy hunting-ground, at their own sweet will; and the birds, rendered tame by their privations, invade the sanctity of the balcony and the window- sills, whereon at another season their lives would not be worth a moment's purchase. He heeded them not now, nor did he, as of yore, resent the intrusion of Burgher Jans' terrier, when that predatory animal came prowling within the widow's tenement in company with his master, who had not entirely ceased his periodic visits, in spite of "the cold shoulder" invariably turned to him by Lorischen. Mouser wasn't going to inconvenience himself for the best dog in Christendom; so, on the advent of the terrier, he merely hopped from the front of the stove to the top, where he frizzled his feet and fizzed at his enemy, without risking the danger of catching an influenza, as he might otherwise have done if he had sought refuge elsewhere out in the cold.

Aye, for it was cold; and many was the time, when, rubbing their tingling fingers, both the widow and Lorischen pitied the hardships to which poor Fritz was exposed in the field, almost feeling angry and ashamed at themselves for being comfortable when he had to endure so much—as they knew from all the accounts published in the newspapers of the sufferings which the invading armies had to put up with, although Fritz himself made light of his physical grievances.

At Christmas-tide they were sad enough at his absence, with the memory of the lost Eric also to make that merry-making time for others doubly miserable to them; but, on the dawn of the new year, their hopes began to brighten with the receipt of every fresh piece of news from France concerning the progress of the war.

"The end cannot be far off now," they said to one another in mutual consolation, so as to cheer up each other's drooping spirits. "Surely the campaign cannot last much longer!"

The last Sunday in the month came, and on this day Madame Dort and Lorischen went to the Marien Kirche to service.

Previously they had been in the habit of attending the Dom Kirche, from the fact of Eric's liking to see, first as a child and afterwards as a growing boy, the great astronomical clock whose queer-looking eyes rolled so very curiously with the swing of the pendulum backwards and forwards each second; but, now, they went to the other house of God for a different reason. It, too, had an eccentric clock, distinguished for a procession of figures of the saints, which jerked themselves into notice each hour above the dial; still it was not that which attracted the widow there. The church was filled with large monumental figures with white, outstretching wings, that hovered out into prominence above the carvings of the old oak screens, black with age. These figures appeared as if soaring up to the roof of the chancel; and Madame Dort had a fancy, morbid it might have been, that she could pray better there, surrounded as it were by guardian angels, whose protection she invoked on behalf of her boy lost at sea, and that other, yet alive, who was "in danger, necessity," and possibly "tribulation!"

After she and Lorischen had returned home from the Marien Kirche, the day passed quietly and melancholy away; but the next morning broke more cheerfully.

It was the 30th of January, 1871. Both the lone women at the little house in the Gulden Strasse remembered that fact well; for, on the morrow, the month from which they had expected such good tidings would be up, and if they heard nothing before its close they must needs despair.

Seeing that the morning broke bright and cheerily, with the sun shining down through the frost-laden air, making the snow on the roofs look crisper and causing the icicles from the eaves to glitter in its scintillating rays, Lorischen determined to go to market, especially as she had not been outside the doorway, except to go to church, since the previous week.

She had not much to buy, it is true; but then she might have a gossip with the neighbours and hear some news, perhaps—who knows?

Anything might have happened without the knowledge of herself or her mistress, as no one, not even Burgher Jans, had been to visit them for ever so long!

Clad, therefore, in her thick cloak and warm boots, with her wide, red- knitted woollen shawl over her head and portly market-basket on arm, Lorischen sallied out like the dove from the ark, hoping perchance to bring back with her an olive branch of comfort; while the widow sat herself down by the stove in the parlour with her needle, stitching away at some new shirts she was engaged on to renew Fritz's wardrobe when he came back. Seeing an opportunity for taking up a comfortable position, Mouser jumped up at once into her lap as soon as the old nurse had left the room, purring away with great complacency and watching in a lazy way the movements of her busy fingers, blinking sleepily the while at the glowing fire in front of him.

Lorischen had not been gone long when Madame Dort heard her bustling back up the staircase without. She knew the old nurse's step well; but, besides hers, she heard the tread of some one else, and then the noisy bark of a dog. A sort of altercation between two voices followed, in which the old nurse's angry accents were plainly perceptible; and next there seemed a hurried scuffle just without the parlour door, which suddenly burst open with a clatter, and two people entered the room.

They were Lorischen and Burgher Jans, who both tried to speak together, the result being a confused jangle of tongues from which Madame Dort could learn nothing.

"I say I was first!" squeaked the Burgher in a high treble key, which he always adopted when excited beyond his usual placid mode of utterance.

"And I say it was me!" retorted the old nurse in her gruff tones, which were much more like those of a man. "What right have you to try and supplant the servant of the house, who specially went out about it, you little meddlesome teetotum, I'd like to know, hey?"

"But I was first, I say! Madame Dort—"

"Don't listen to him, mistress," interposed Lorischen. "I've just—"

"There's news of—"

But, bang just then came Lorischen's market-basket against the side of the little man's head, knocking his hat off and stopping his speech abruptly; while the old nurse muttered savagely, "I wish it had been your little turnip-top of a head instead of your hat, that I do!"

"Good people! good people!" exclaimed Madame Dort, rising to her feet and dropping her needlework and Mouser—who rapidly jumped on to the top of the stove out of the reach of Burgher Jans' terrier, which, of course, had followed his master into the parlour and at once made a dart at the cat as he tumbled on to the floor from the widow's lap. "Pray do not make such a noise, and both speak at once! What is the matter that you are so eager to tell me—good news, I trust, Lorischen, or you would not have hurried back so soon?"

Madame Dort's voice trembled with anxiety, and tears of suspense stood in her eyes.

"There," said Lorischen triumphantly to the Burgher, who remained silent for the moment from the shock of the old nurse's attack. "You see for yourself that my mistress wishes me to tell her."

"Oh, what is it—what have you heard?" cried the widow plaintively. "Do not keep me in this agony any longer!"

And she sat down again nervously in her chair, gazing from one to the other in mute entreaty and looking as if she were going to faint.

"There now, see what you've done!" said Lorischen, hastening to Madame Dort's side. "I told you what it would be if you blurted it out like that!"

Burgher Jans' eyes grew quite wide with astonishment beneath the broad rims of his tortoise-shell spectacles, giving him more than ever the appearance of an owl.

"Peace, woman!" he exclaimed. "I—"

"Yes, that's it, dear mistress," interrupted the old nurse, half laughing, half crying, as she knelt down beside the widow's chair and put her arm round her caressingly. "There's peace proclaimed at last, and the dear young Herr will come home again to you now!"

"Peace?" repeated the widow, looking up with an anxious stare from one to the other.

"Yes, peace, most worthy lady," said Burgher Jans pompously in his ordinary bland voice; adding immediately afterwards for Lorischen's especial benefit—"and I was the first to tell you of it, after all."

"Never mind," replied that worthy, too much overpowered with emotion at the happiness of the widow to contest the point. "We both brought the glad tidings together. Madame, dearest mistress, you are glad, are you not?"

But Madame Dort was silent for the moment. Her eyes were closed, and her lips moving in earnest prayer of thankfulness to Him who had heard her prayers and granted the fervent wish of her heart at last.

"Is it really true?" she asked presently.

"Yes, well-born and most worthy lady," replied the little fat man, whom Lorischen now allowed to speak without further interruption. "Our Bismark signed an armistice with the French at Versailles on Saturday by which Paris capitulates, the forts defending it being given over to our soldiers, and the starving city allowed to be reprovisioned by the good English, who have prepared ever so many train-loads of food to go in for the use of the population."

"Ah, those good English!" chimed in Lorischen.

"You have reason to say that, dearest maiden," continued the Burgher, bowing suavely to the old woman. "They subscribed, ah! more than a million thalers for this purpose in London."

"And I suppose the war will now cease?" said Madame Dort.

"Most certainly, worthy lady," replied Burgher Jans. "The armistice is to last for three weeks to enable the French to have an election of members to an assembly which will decide whether the contest shall go on any further; but there is no doubt, as their armies have all been defeated and their resources exhausted, that hostilities will not be again resumed. All parties are sick of fighting by this time!"

"So I should think," exclaimed Lorischen warmly. "It has been a bloody, murdering work, that of the last six months!"

"Yes, but good for Germany," put in the little man in his bland way.

"Humph! much good, with widows left without their husbands and children fatherless, and the stalwart sons that should have been the help of their mothers made food for French powder and the chassepot! Besides, I don't think the German states, Meinherr," added the old nurse more politely than she usually addressed the Burgher, "will get much of the plunder. Mark my words if Prussia does not take the lion's share!"

"You have reason, dearest maiden," answered the other, agreeing with his old opponent for once. "I've no doubt that, like the poor Bavarians who had to do the heaviest part of the fighting, we shall get only the kicks and Prussia the halfpence!"

"That's more than likely," said Lorischen, much pleased at the similarity of their sentiments; "and I suppose we can expect Herr Fritz home soon now, eh?"

"Probably as soon as peace is regularly established; for then, our troops will commence to evacuate France and march back to the Rhine," replied Burgher Jans,—"that Rhine whose banks they have so valiantly defended."

"Ah, we'd better begin at once to prepare to receive our soldier lad," said the old nurse with much cheerfulness, as if she wished to set to without a moment's delay at making things ready for Fritz; seeing which, Burgher Jans took his departure, the widow and Lorischen both expressing their thanks for the good news he had brought, and the old nurse actually escorting him to the door in a most unusual fit of civility!

The definite treaty of peace between France and Germany was completed on the 28th February, 1871, when it was ratified by the constituent assembly sitting at Bordeaux, the conquered country surrendering two of her richest provinces, Alsace and Lorraine, together with the fortresses of Metz and Belfort—the strongest on the frontier—besides paying an indemnity of no less a sum than five milliards of francs, some two hundred millions of pounds in English money, to the victors!

It was a terrible price to pay for the war; for, in addition to these sacrifices must be reckoned:— 2,400 captured field guns; 120 eagles, flags, and standards; 4,000 fortress guns; and 11,669 officers and 363,326 men taken prisoners in battle and interned in Germany—not counting 170,000 men of the garrison of Paris who must be held to have surrendered to their conquerors, although these were not led away captive like the others, who were kept in durance until the first moiety of their ransom was paid!

But, Prince Bismark over-reached himself in grinding down the country as he did. He thought, that, by fixing such an enormous sum for the indemnity, France would be under the heel of Germany for years to come, as the Prussian troops were not to leave until the money was paid. Instead of which, by a general and stupendous movement of her population, inflamed by a praiseworthy spirit of patriotism, the five milliards were paid within a year and the French soil clear of the invader—this being the most wonderful thing connected with the war, some persons think!

Meanwhile, Madame Dort's anxiety to behold her son again at home and his earnest wish to the same effect had to await gratification.

The news of the armistice before Paris reached Lubeck on the 30th January; but it was not until March that the German troops began to evacuate their positions in front of the capital of France, and nearly the end of the month before the last battalion turned its face homeward.

Before that wished-for end was reached, Fritz was terribly heart-sick about Madaleine.

After a long silence, enduring for over a month, during which his mind was torn by conflicting doubts and fears, he had received a short, hurried note from her, telling him that she had been ill and was worried by domestic circumstances. She did not know what would become of her, she wrote, adding that he had better cease to think of her, although she would always pray for his welfare.

That was all; but it wasn't a very agreeable collapse to the nice little enchanted "castle in Spain" he had been diligently building up ever since his meeting with Madaleine at Mezieres:— it was a sad downfall to the hopes he had of meeting her again!

Of course, he wrote to his mother, telling her of his misery; but she could not console him much, save by exhorting him to live in hope, for that all would come well in good time.

"Old people can't feel like young ones," thought Fritz. "She doesn't know what I suffer in my heart."

And so time rolled on slowly enough for mother and son; he, counting the days—sadly now, for his return was robbed of one of its chief expectations; she, gladly, watching to clasp her firstborn in her arms once more. Ample amends she thought this would be to her for all the anxiety she had suffered since Fritz had left home the previous summer, especially after her agonised fear of losing him!

Towards the close of March, the Hanoverian regiments returned to their depot, Fritz being forwarded on to Lubeck.

As no one knew the precise day or hour when the train bearing him home might be expected to arrive, of course there was no one specially waiting at the railway station to welcome him back. Only the ordinary curiosity-mongers amongst the townspeople were there; but these were always on the watch for new-comers. They raised a sort of cheer when he and his comrades belonging to the neighbourhood alighted from the railway carriages; but, although the cheering was hearty, and Fritz and the others joined in the popular Volkslieder that the townspeople started, the young sub-lieutenant missed his mother's dear face and Lorischen's friendly, wrinkled old countenance, both of whom, somehow or other without any reason to warrant the assumption, he had thought would have been there.

It was in a melancholy manner, therefore, that he took his way towards the Gulden Strasse and the little house he had not seen for so long— could it only have been barely nine months ago?

How small everything looked now, after his travels and experiences of the busy towns and handsome cities of France which he had but so lately passed through! All here seemed quiet, quaint, diminutive, old- fashioned, like the resemblance to some antique picture, or the dream city of a dream!

Presently, he is in the old familiar street of his youth. It seemed so long and wide then; now, he can traverse its length in two strides, and it is so narrow that the buildings on either side almost meet in the middle.

But, the home-coming charm is on him; love draws him forward quickly like a magnet! He sees his mother's house at the end of the street. He is up the outside stairway with an agile bound.

With full heart, he bursts open the door, and, in a second, is within the parlour. He hears his mother's cry of joy.

"My son, my son!" and she throws herself on his neck, as he clasps her in a fond embrace, recollecting that once he never expected to have lived to see her again.

And Lorischen, too, she comes forward with a handshake and a hug for the boy she has nursed on her knee many a time in the years agone.

But, who is this besides?

"What! Madaleine?" exclaims Fritz.

"Yes, it is I," she replies demurely, a merry smile dancing on her face, and a glad light in the bright blue eyes.

This was the surprise Madame Dort had prepared for Fritz—a pleasant one, wasn't it, with which to welcome him home?



CHAPTER TWELVE.

FAMILY COUNCILS.

"I have to thank you, dear mother, for this!" said Fritz, with an affectionate smile, to Madame Dort. "How did you contrive such a pleasant surprise?"

"You told me of your trouble, my son," she replied; "so I did my best to help you under the circumstances."

"And you, little traitress," exclaimed he, turning to Madaleine. "How could you keep me in suspense all those weary weeks that have elapsed since the year began?"

"I did not think you cared so much," said she defiantly.

"Cared!" he repeated.

"Well, it was not my fault," she explained. "When I wrote to you last, I really never thought I should see you again."

"You don't know me yet," said Fritz. "I should have hunted you out to the world's end! I had determined, as soon as I had seen mother, to go off to Darmstadt and find out what had become of you."

"And a nice wild-goose chase you would have had," answered Madaleine, tossing her head, and shaking the silky masses of golden hair, now unconfined by any jealous coiffe, with her blue eyes laughing fun. "You wouldn't have found me there! The baroness—"

"Hang her!" interrupted Fritz angrily; "I should like to settle her!"

"Ah, I wouldn't mind your doing that now," continued the girl naively; "she treated me very unkindly at the end."

"The brute!" said Fritz indignantly.

"Her son—the young baron, you know—came home from the war in January. He was invalided, but I don't think there was anything the matter with him at all; for, no sooner had he got back to the castle than he began worrying me, paying all sorts of attention and pestering me with his presence."

"Puppy!" exclaimed Fritz; "I would have paid him some delicate little attentions if I'd been there!"

"Oh, I knew how to treat him," said Madaleine. "I soon made him keep his distance! But it is the Baroness Stolzenkop that I complain of; she actually taxed me with encouraging him!"

"Indeed?" interrogated Fritz.

"Yes; and, when I told her I wouldn't choose her fop of a son if there wasn't another man in Germany, why she accused me of impertinence, telling me that the fact of my having attracted the young baron was an honour which an humble girl in my position should have been proud of— she did, really!"

"The old cat!" said Fritz indignantly; "I should like to wring her neck for her."

"Hush, my son," interposed Madame Dort. "Pray don't make use of such violent expressions. The baroness, you know, is exalted in rank, and—"

"Then all the greater shame for her to act so dishonourably," he interrupted hotly. "She ought to be—I can find no words to tell what I would do to her, there!"

"Besides, Master Fritz," said old Lorischen, "I won't have you speak so disrespectfully of cats, the noblest animals on earth! Look at Mouser there, looking his indignation at you; can't you see how he feels the reproach of your comparing him to that horrid baroness?"

This remark at once diverted the conversation, all turning in the direction the old nurse pointed, where a little comedy was being enacted.

Mouser—with his tail erected like a stiff bottle-brush, and every individual hair galvanised into a perpendicular position on his back, which was curved into the position of a bent bow with rage and excitement, his whiskers bristling out from each side of his head and his mouth uttering the most horrible anathemas the cat language is capable of—was perched on the back of Madame Dort's arm-chair in the corner; while poor Gelert, the innocent cause of all this display of emotion on Mouser's part, was calmly surveying him and sniffing interrogatory inquiries as to whom he had the pleasure of speaking. The dog had not yet been formally introduced to his new cat friend, and from the commanding position he had taken up, with his hind legs on the hearthrug and his fore paws on the seat of the easy chair, he had considerable advantage over pussy, should that sagacious creature think of fleeing to another vantage-ground; although the thought of this, it should be added, never crossed for an instant the mind of old Mouser; he knew well when he was safe.

Fritz burst out laughing.

"Lie down, Gelert!" he cried; and the retriever at once obeyed.

"Is that the dear dog?" inquired Madame Dort, stooping to pat him.

"Yes," said Fritz, "this is Gelert, the brave, faithful fellow but for whom I would have bled to death on the battlefield and never have been saved by Madaleine!"

"Thanks be to God!" exclaimed the widow piously. "What a nice dog he is!"

"He is all that," replied Fritz; "still, he must be taught not to molest Master Mouser. Here, Gelert!"

The dog at once sprang up again from his recumbent position on the hearthrug; while Mouser, his excessive spiny and porcupinish appearance having become somewhat toned down, was now watchfully observing this new variety of the dog species, which his natural instinct taught him to regard with antagonism and yet who was so utterly different from Burgher Jans' terrier, the only specimen of the canine race with whom he had been previously acquainted.

"See," said Fritz to the retriever, laying one hand on his head and stroking the cat with the other, "you mustn't touch poor Mouser. Good dog!"

The animal gave a sniff of intelligence, seeming to know at once what was expected of him; and, never, from that moment, did he ever exhibit the slightest approach of hostility to pussy—no, not even when Mouser, as he did sometimes from curiosity, would approach him at the very delicate juncture when he was engaged on a bone, which few dogs can stand—the two ever after remaining on the friendliest of friendly terms; so friendly, indeed, that Mouser would frequently curl himself to sleep between Gelert's paws on the hearthrug.

This little diversion had drawn away the conversation from Madaleine's treatment by the old Baroness Stolzenkop; but, presently, Madame Dort proceeded to explain to Fritz that, on account of his telling her in one of his letters home how anxious he was in the matter, and knowing besides how much she was indebted to Madaleine for saving his life by her kindly nursing when he was in the villa hospital at Mezieres, she had written to her at Darmstadt, asking her to pay her a visit and so light up a lonely house with her presence until her son should have returned from the war. "And a veritable house fairy she has been," concluded the widow, speaking from her heart, with tears in her eyes. "She has been like sunshine to me in the winter of my desolation."

"And Mouser likes her, too," said Lorischen, as if that settled the matter.

"She's the best manager in the world," next put in Madame Dort. "She has saved me a world of trouble since she's been in the house."

"And she cooks better than any one else in Lubeck!" exclaimed the old nurse, not to be beat in enumerating all the good qualities of Fritz's guardian angel, who had taken her heart, as well as the widow's, by storm.

Meanwhile, the subject of all these remarks stood in the centre of the room, blushing at the compliments paid her on all sides.

"Dear me, good people, I shall have to run away if you go on like that," she cried at last. "I have been so happy here," she added, turning to Fritz. "It's the first time I've known what home was since my mother died."

"Poor child," said Madame Dort, opening her arms. "Come here, I'll be your mother now."

"Ah, that's just what I've longed for!" exclaimed Fritz rapturously. "Madaleine, will you be her daughter in reality?"

The girl did not reply in words, but she gave him one look, and then hid her face in the widow's bosom.

"Poor Eric," said the widow presently, resigning Madaleine to the care of Fritz, who was nothing loth to take charge of her—the two retreating to a corner and sitting down side by side, having much apparently to say to each other, if such might be surmised from their bent heads and whispered conversation. "If he were but here, my happiness would now be almost complete!"

"Yes," chimed in Lorischen as she bustled out of the room, Madame Dort following her quietly, so as to leave the lovers to themselves—"the dear flaxen-haired sailor laddie, with his merry ways and laughing eyes. I think I can see him now before me! Ah, it is just nineteen months to the day since he sailed away on that ill-fated voyage, you remember, mistress?"

But, she need not have asked the question. Madame Dort had counted every day since that bright autumn morning when she saw her darling for the last time at the railway station. It was not likely that she would forget how long he had been absent!

Later on, when the excitement of coming home to his mother and meeting with Madaleine had calmed down, Fritz, having ceased to be a soldier, his services not being any longer required with the Landwehr, turned his attention to civil employment; for, now, with the prospect of marrying before him, it was more urgent than ever that he should have something to do in order to occupy his proper position as bread-winner of the family, the widow's means being limited and it being as much as she could do to support herself and Lorischen out of her savings, without having to take again to teaching—which avocation, indeed, her health of late years had rendered her unable to continue, had she been desirous of resuming it again.

Madaleine, of course, could have gone out as a governess, Madame Dort being, probably, easily able to procure her a situation in the family of one of her former pupils; or she might have resumed the position of a hospital nurse, for which she had been trained at Darmstadt, having been taken on as an assistant in the convalescent home established in that town by the late Princess Alice of Hesse, when the Baroness Stolzenkop turned her adrift. But Fritz would not hear of Madaleine's leaving his mother.

"No," said he decisively to her, "your place is here with mutterchen, who regards you as a daughter—don't you, mother?"

"Yes, indeed," answered the widow readily enough—"so long as I'm spared."

"There, you see, you've no option," continued Fritz triumphantly. "Mother would not be able to do without you now. Besides, it is not necessary. I will be able to earn bread enough for all. Look at these broad shoulders and strong arms, hey! What were they made for else, I'd like to know?"

Still, Fritz did not find it so easy to get employment as he thought.

Herr Grosschnapper had kept the clerkship he had formerly filled in his counting-house open for him some time after the commencement of the war; but, finding that Fritz would be away much longer than he had expected, he had been forced to employ a substitute in his place. This young man had proved himself so diligent and active in mastering all the details of the business in a short time, that the worthy shipowner did not wish to discharge him now when his original clerk returned, and Fritz himself would have been loth to press the matter; although, he had looked upon his re-engagement in the merchant's office as a certainty when he came back to Lubeck.

Fritz had thought, with that self-confidence which most of us possess, that no one could possibly have kept Herr Grosschnapper's books or calculated insurances with such ability as he could, and that the worthy merchant would have been only too delighted to welcome so able a clerk when he walked into the counting-house again. He had not lived long enough to know that as good, or better, a man can always be found to fill the place of even the best; and that, much as we may estimate our own value, a proportionate equivalent can soon be supplied from other sources!

So, much to Fritz's chagrin, on going down to the merchant's place of business on the quay, all eagerness to resume work again on the old footing, he found that he was not wanted: he would have to apply elsewhere for employment.

"Oh, that will not be a hard matter," he thought to himself.

"Softly, my friend," whispered fickle Dame Fortune in his ear, "not quite so fast! Things don't always turn out just as you wish, young sir, with your reliant impetuosity!"

Lubeck had never been at any time a bustling place, for it had no trade to speak of; and now, since the war had crippled commerce, everything was in a state of complete stagnation. Ships were laying up idle all along the banks of the great canal, although spring was advancing and the ice-chains that bound up the Baltic would soon be loosed. There were no cargoes to be had; and perforce, the carriers of the sea were useless, making a corresponding dearth of business in the houses of the shipping firms. Why, instead of engaging fresh hands at their desks, they would have need soon to discharge some of their old ones! This was the answer that met his ear at every place he applied to, and he had finally to give up all hope of finding work in his native town.

It was the same elsewhere.

The five milliards of ransom paid by France, brought no alleviation of the enormous taxation imposed on Germany to bear the expense of organising the great military machine employed to carry out the war. The Prussian exchequer alone reaped the benefit of this plunder of the conquered nation; as for the remaining states of the newly created empire, they were not a farthing to the good for all the long train of waggons filled with gold and silver and bales of bank-notes that streamed over the frontier when the war indemnity was paid. If possible, their position was made worse instead of better; as, from the more extravagant style of living now adopted, in lieu of the former frugal habits in vogue—on account of the soldiers of the Fatherland learning to love luxury through their becoming accustomed during the campaign to what they had never dreamt of in their lives before— articles of food and dress became increased in price, so that it was a difficult matter for people with a small income to make both ends meet.

Ah, there was wide-spread poverty and dearth of employment throughout the length and breadth of the land, albeit there might be feasting and hurrahing, and clinking of champagne glasses Unter den Linden at Berlin!

However, Fritz was not the sort of fellow to grow despondent, or fail to recognise the urgency of the situation.

Long before Eric had gone to sea, he had fancied that Lubeck, with its slow movements and asthmatic trade, offered little opening for the energy and ability with which he felt himself endowed; for, he might live and die a clerk there, without the chance of ever rising to anything else. He had frequently longed to go abroad and carve out a fortune in some fresh sphere; but the thought of leaving his mother alone prevented him from indulging in this day-dream, and he had determined, much against the grain, to be satisfied with the humble lot which appeared to be his appointed place in life.

Now, however, circumstances had changed. His place was filled up in the old world; Providence itself forced him to seek an opening in the new.

His mind was made up at once.

"Little mother," said he one evening, when he had been home a month, seeing every prospect of employment shut out from him—his last hope, that of a situation in the house of a comrade's father at Coblentz, from which he had expected great things, having failed—"I've determined to emigrate to America—that is, if you do not offer any objection; for I should not like to go without your consent, although I see there's no chance for me here in Germany."

"What!" exclaimed Madame Dort, so startled that she let her knitting drop. "Go to America, across the terrible sea?"

Fritz had already explained matters to Madaleine, and she, brave-hearted girl that she was, concealing her own feelings at the separation between them which her lover's resolve would necessitate, did not seek to urge him against his will to abandon his project. She believed in his honesty of purpose, relying on his strong, impulsive character; and what he had decided on, she decided, too, as a good wife that was to be, would be best not only for them both but for all.

"Yes, to America, mutterchen," he replied to the widow's exclamation, speaking in a tender voice of entreaty. "It is not so very far, you know, dear little mother, eh? It will be only from Bremerhaven to Southampton in England,—you recollect going there with me for a trip, don't you, the year before last?—and from Southampton to New York; and, there, I shall be in my new home in ten days' time at the outside! Why, it's nothing, a mere nothing of a voyage when you come to consider it properly."

"Across the wide, wild ocean that has already robbed me of Eric, my youngest," went on poor Madame Dort, unheeding his words; "you, my firstborn—my only son now—I shall never see you more, I know!" and she gave way to a burst of tears.

"Say not so, darling mother," said Madaleine, throwing her arms round her and joining in her weeping with a sympathetic heart, feeling quite as great grief at the idea of parting with her lover. "He will return for us both bye-and-bye. He is only going to make that home for us in the Far West we've read about so often lately, which he cannot hope to establish here; and then, my mother,—for you are my mother too, now, are you not?—he will come back for you and me, or we will go out and join him."

"And I should like to know what will become of me, Fraulein Madaleine," interposed Lorischen indignantly. "Am I to be left behind to be bothered all my life long by that little plague, Burgher Jans?"

"No, no, Lorischen," laughed Fritz; "a home across the sea in America would not be a home without you—or Mouser, either," he added.

"That's all right, then," said the old nurse affably; her digression serving to break the gravity of the conversation, and make Madame Dort take a better view of the matter.

"But, it's a terrible journey, though, a terrible journey—almost worse than parting with him to go to the war," said the widow sadly to herself.

"Ah, but you did not have Madaleine with you then," replied Fritz, turning a look of affection to the fair girl clinging to his mother. "She will be a daughter to you, and comfort you in my absence, I know."

"Aye, that I will," exclaimed Madaleine fondly, caressing her adopted parent and gazing at Fritz with the blue eyes full of love, although blinded with tears. "I shall love her dearly for your sake, my darling, as well as for her own—and my own too; and we will all look forward to meeting again happily after our present parting, with hope and trust in the good God who will protect and watch over you in return for our prayers!"

"Amen to that," said Lorischen heartily. "And I tell you what it is, Master Fritz—we'll be all ready when you give the word to follow you across the sea to that wonderful America! I declare I'm quite longing to see it, for I don't think much of this Lubeck now, with such curious, meddling, impertinent people in it like that odious little fat man, Burgher Jans."

These words of the old nurse put them all in a merry mood, and the family council thus terminated more cheerily than it had begun.



CHAPTER THIRTEEN.

ACROSS THE ATLANTIC.

Fritz was as prompt in action as he was rapid in resolve; so in a few days after he had imparted to Madaleine and his mother his intention of emigrating to America, his last good-byes were exchanged with the little household in the Gulden Strasse—not forgetting the faithful Gelert, now domiciled in the family, whom it was impossible to take with him on account of the expense and trouble his transit would have occasioned, besides which, the good doggie would be ever so much better looked after by those left behind and would serve "as a sort of pledge," Fritz told Madaleine, "of his master's return!"

Yes, within a week at the outside, he had left Lubeck once more, and was on his way to that western "land of the free" which Henry Russell the ballad writer, has sung of:— where the "mighty Missouri rolls down to the sea," and where imperial autocrats and conscription are undreamt of—although, not so very, very many years ago, it was convulsed in the throes of a civil war which could boast of as gigantic struggles between hostile forces and as terrible and bloodthirsty battles as those which had characterised that Franco-German campaign, in which Fritz had but so recently participated and been heartily sick of before it terminated!

The love of colonisation seems to be the controlling spirit of modern times.

Some sceptics in the truth of historical accuracy, have whispered their suspicions that, the "New World" was actually discovered at a date long anterior to the age of Columbus; but, even allowing that there might be some stray scrap of fact for this assertion, it may be taken for granted that the first nucleus of our present system of emigration, from the older continent to the "new" one, originated in the little band of thirty-nine men left behind him by Christopher in Hispaniola, at the close of his first "voyage beyond seas," in the year 1493, or thereabouts. This small settlement failed, as is well-known, and the bones of the Genoese mariner who founded it have been mouldering in dust for centuries. Sir Walter Raleigh—the gallant imitator of Columbus, treading so successfully in his footsteps as to illustrate the old adage of the pupil excelling the master, the original expounder, indeed, of the famous "Westwards Ho!" doctrine since preached so ably by latter-day enthusiasts—has also departed to that bourne from whence no traveller returns. So have, likewise, a host of others, possessing names proudly borne on the chronicle of fame as martyrs to the universal spread of discovery and spirit of progress. But, the love of enterprise, and consequent expansion of civilisation and commercial venture, inaugurated by the brave old pioneers of Queen Elizabeth's day, have not ceased to impel similar seekers after something beyond ordinary humdrum life. The path of discovery, although narrowed through research, has not yet been entirely exhausted; for "fresh fields and pastures new," as hopeful as those about which Milton rhapsodised and as plenteously flowing with typical milk and honey as the promised land of the Israelites, are being continually opened up and offered to the oppressed and pauperised populations of Europe. Thus, the tide of emigration, swelled from the tiny ocean-drop which marked its first inception more than three hundred years ago to its present torrentine proportions and bearing away frequently entire nationalities on its bosom, still flows from the east to the west, tracing the progress of civilisation from its Alpha to its Omega, as steadily as when it originally began—aye, and as it will continue to flow on, until the entire habitable globe shall be peopled as with one family by the intermixture and association of alien races!

It is curious how this migratory spirit has permeated through the odd corners of the old world, leading the natives of different countries to flock like sheep to every freshly spoken of colony; and how, by such means, Englishmen, Celts, Germans, French, Hollanders, Italians, Norsemen, Africans, as well as the "Heathen Chinee," are scattered in a mixed mass over the whole face of the earth now-a-days, as widely as the descendants of Noah were dispersed from the plain of Shinar after their unsuccessful attempt at building the tower of Babel—the result being, that some of the highest types of advancement are at present to be found where, but a few years back, uncultivated savages, as rude but perhaps not quite so inquisitive as the late Bishop Colenso's apocryphal Zulu, were the sole existing evidences of latent humanity!

Fritz, however, was not proceeding to any of these newly colonised countries. Like the majority of other Germans who had emigrated before him, he was aiming for "the States," where, according to the popular idea in Europe, money can be had for nothing in the shape of any expenditure of labour, time, or trouble. Really, the ne'er-do-well and shiftless seem to regard America as a sort of Tom Tiddler's ground for the idle, the lazy, and the dissolute—although, mind you, Fritz was none of these, having made up his mind to work as hard in the New World as he would have been forced to do in the Old for the fortune he could not win there, and which he had been forced to turn his back on.

Bremerhaven to Southampton; Southampton to Sandy Hook, as he had told his mother; and, in ten days altogether, the ocean steamer he travelled in, one of the North German line, had landed him safely in New York.

Seven years before, when he would have reached the "Empire City" during the height of the Secession War, he might have sold himself to a "bounty jumper," as the enlisting agents of the northern army were termed, for a nice little sum in "greenback" dollars; now, he found sharpers, or "confidence men," ready to "sell" him in a similar way—only, that the former rogues would have been satisfied with nothing less than his body and life, as an emigrant recruit for Grant or Sherman's force; while the present set cared but for his cash, seeking the same with ravenous maw almost as soon as he had landed at Castle Garden!

Fritz had taken a steerage passage, so as to save money; and, being dressed in shabby clothes, in keeping with his third-class ticket, the loafers about the Battery, at the end of Manhattan Island, on which the town of New York is built, thought he was merely an ignorant German peasant whom they might easily impose on. They, however, soon found that he had not been campaigning six months for nothing, and so their efforts at getting him to part with the little capital he had were pretty well thrown away—especially as Fritz, in his anxiety to find some work to do at once, did not "let the grass grow under his feet," but proceeded up Broadway instead of wasting his time by lounging in the vicinity of the emigrant depot, as the majority of his countrymen generally do, apparently in the expectation that employment will come in search of them.

Still, he soon discovered that New York was overstocked with just the species of labour he was able to supply.

Of course, if he had been at the pitch of desperation, he might have found a job of some sort to his hand; but, writing and speaking English and French fluently in addition to his native tongue, besides being a good correspondent and book-keeper, he did not feel disposed to throw away his talents on mere manual labour. He had emigrated to "make his fortune," or, at all events, to achieve a position in which he could hope to build up a home for the dear ones left behind at Lubeck; and there would not be much chance of his accomplishing this by engaging himself out as a day labourer—to assist some skilled carpenter or bricklayer—which was the only work offered him.

"No, sir; nary an opening here!" was the constant reply he met with at every merchant's office he entered from Wall Street upwards along Broadway until he came to Canal Street; when, finding the shops, or "stores" as the Americans call them, going more in the "dry goods" or haberdashery line, he wended his way back again "down town," investigating the various establishments lying between the main thoroughfare and the North and East rivers, hoping to find a situation vacant in one of the shipping houses thereabouts.

But, "No, sir; all filled up, I guess," was still the stereotyped response to his applications, with much emphasis on the "sir"—the majority of the Manhattanese uttering this word, as Fritz thought, in a highly indignant tone, although, as he discovered later on, this was the general pronunciation adopted throughout the States.

"I suppose," he said to one gentleman he asked, and who was, it seemed to Fritz, the master, or "boss," of the establishment, from the fact of his lounging back in a rocking chair contiguous to his desk, and balancing his feet instead of his hands on the latter,—"I suppose it's because I can give no references to former employers here, that all the men I speak to invariably decline my services?"

"No, sirree; I reckon not," was the reply. "Guess we don't care a cuss where you come from. We take a man as we find him, for just what he is worth, without minding what he might have been in the old country, or bothering other folks for his ka-racter, you bet! I reckon, mister, you'd better start right away out West if you want work. Book-keepers and sich-like are played out haar; we're filled up to bustin' with 'em, I guess!"

It was good advice probably; but, still, Fritz did not care to act upon it. Having been accustomed all his life to the shipping trade, he wished to find some opening in that special branch of business; and, if he went inland to Chicago or elsewhere, he thought, he would be abandoning his chances for securing the very sort of work he preferred to have. Besides, going away from the neighbourhood of ships and quays and the sea would be like cutting adrift every old association with Lubeck and Europe; while, in addition, he had directed his letters from home to be sent to the "Poste Restante, New York," and if he left that city, why he would never hear how Madaleine and his mother were getting on in his absence!

So, for days and days he patrolled the town in vain; seeking for work, and finding none. The place, as his candid informer had said, was filled with clerks like himself in search of employment; and they, linguists especially, were a drug in the market—the cessation of the Franco-German War having flooded the country with foreign labour.

What should he do?

Before making a move, as everybody advised him, he determined to await the next mail steamer. This would bring him a letter from home, in answer to the one he had written, immediately on landing, telling of his safe arrival in the New World. He was dying to have, if only, a line from those dear ones he had left with a good-bye in the Gulden Strasse, recounting all that had happened since he had started from home—his passage across the Atlantic having lasted, according to his morbid imagination, at least as long as the war he had lately served through!

At last, a letter came; and, as it really put fresh heart in him— cheering up his drooping energies and banishing a sort of despondent feeling which had begun to prey upon him, altering him completely from his former buoyant self—he made up his mind in his old prompt fashion to visit some of the other seaports on the coast, "Down East," as Americans say, in order to try whether he might not be able there to get a billet.

He had very little money left now; for, he had not brought much with him from home, originally and the greater part of what he had in his pockets when he came ashore had melted away in paying for his board and lodging while remaining in New York. Although he had put up at the cheapest boarding-house he could find, it was far dearer than the most expensive accommodation in Lubeck or even at a first-class hotel in any large town on the Continent. Living in such a city was actually like eating hard cash!

Fritz saw that he would have to proceed on his journey along the coast as cheaply as possible:— he had not much to spare for railway and steamboat fares.

With this resolution staring him in the face, he made his way one afternoon to the foot of Canal Street, from the quays facing which, on the North River, start the huge floating palaces of steamers that navigate the waters of Long Island Sound—visiting on their way those New England States where, it may be recollected, the Pilgrim Fathers landed after their voyage in the Mayflower, of historic renown, a couple of odd centuries ago.

One of these vessels had "Providence" marked on her; and the name at once arrested the attention of Fritz.

"Himmel!" he said to himself, with a superstitious sort of feeling like that which he used to ridicule in old Lorischen when she read omens in Mouser's attitudes and cat language of a night—"this looks lucky; perhaps providence is going to interpose on my behalf, and relieve me from all the misery and anxiety I'm suffering! At all events, I will go on board and see where the steamer is bound for."

No sooner said than done.

Fritz stepped on to the gangway; and, quickly gaining the vessel, asked one of the deck hands he saw forward where she was going to.

"Ha-o-ow?" repeated the man—meaning "what?"

"Where are you bound for?" said Fritz again.

"Providence, Rhode Island, I guess, mister. Can't ye see it writ up?"

"And where's that?" further inquired Fritz.

"New England way, I reckon, whar I wer raised."

"Any ships or shipping trade there?"

The man laughed out heartily.

"Jerusalem, that's prime, anyhow!" he exclaimed. "Any ships at Providence? Why, you might as well ask if thar wer any fish in the sea! Thar are heaps and heaps on 'em up to Rhode Island, mister, from a scoop up to a whaler; so I guess we can fix you up slick if you come aboard!"

"All right, I will," said Fritz; "that is, if the fare is not too high."

"Guess two-fifty won't break you, hey?" responded the deck hand, meaning two-and-a-half dollars.

"No," said Fritz; "I think I can manage that. What time do you start?"

"Five o'clock sharp."

"That will just give me time to fetch my valise," said Fritz, thinking aloud.

"Where away is that?" asked the man.

"Chatham Street," answered Fritz, "just below the town hall."

"Oh, I know, mister, well enough whar Chatham Street is! Yes, you'll have plenty of time if you look smart."

"Thank you, I will," said Fritz; and, going back to the boarding-house where he had been stopping, he soon returned to the quay with the little valise that carried all his impedimenta—reaching the steamer just in the nick of time as she was casting off.

As he jumped on to her deck, the gangway was withdrawn.

"All aboard?" sang out the captain from the pilot-house on the hurricane deck.

"Aye, aye, all aboard," was the response from Fritz's friend the deck hand, who, with only a red flannel shirt on and a pair of check trousers—very unsailorlike in appearance altogether—stood in the bows.

"Then fire away and let her rip!" came the reply from the captain above, followed by the tinkle of an electric bell in the engine-room, the steamer's paddles revolving with a splash the moment afterwards and urging her on her watery way.

Round the Battery at Manhattan Point she glided, and up the East River through Hell Gate into Long Island Sound—one of the most sheltered channels in the world, and more like a lake or lagoon than an arm of the sea—leaving a broad wake of creamy green foam behind her like a mill- race, and quivering from stem to stern with every revolution of her shaft, with every throb of her high-pressure engines!



CHAPTER FOURTEEN.

AN UNEXPECTED MEETING.

The Rhode Island steamer was a splendid boat, Fritz found, when he came to look about him; for, she was a "floating palace," every inch of her, with magnificent saloons and state-cabins stretching away the entire length of the vessel fore and aft. A light hurricane deck was above all, on which the passengers could promenade up and down to their hearts' content, having comfortable cane-bottomed seats along the sides to sit down upon when tired and no gear, or rope coils, or other nautical "dunnage," to interrupt their free locomotion on this king of quarter-decks, which had, besides, an awning on top to tone down the potency of the western sun.

With three tiers of decks—the lowermost, or main, containing the engine-room and stowage place for cargo, as well as the men's quarters; the lower saloon, in which were the refreshment bars, and what could only appropriately be called the "dining hall," if such a term were not an anachronism on board ship; and, thirdly, the upper saloon, containing the principal cabins and state-rooms, in addition to the graceful promenading hurricane deck surmounting the whole—the steamer had the appearance of one of those bungalow-like pretended "houses" which children build up with a pack of cards. Only that, this illusion was speedily destroyed by the huge beam of the engine, working up and down like a monster chain-pump on top of the whole structure—not to speak of the twin smoke-stacks on either side of the paddle-boxes emitting volumes of thick, stifling vapour, and the two pilot-houses, one at each extremity of the hurricane deck; for, like most American river steamers, the boat was what was called a "double-ender," built whale-boat fashion to go either backwards or forwards, a very necessary thing to avoid collision in crowded waters.

Fritz could not but realise that the ingenious construction which he was gazing at was essentially a Yankee invention, resembling nothing in European waters.

If he had not yet been fully convinced of this fact, the eldritch screech which the steam whistle shortly evolved, in obedience to the pressure of the captain's finger on a valve in the pilot-house forward— whence the vessel was steered—would have at once decided his mind on the point. It was the most fearful, ear-deafening, blood-curdling sound he had ever heard in his life!

Fritz thought something had happened—that the boiler was in danger of bursting, or the vessel sinking at the least—but, on making a startled inquiry of the nearest person, he was reassured by learning that the "whistle," as the frightful noise was called, was only emitted in courteous salutation to another steamer passing in the distance, bound down to New York; and soon, an answering squeal from the boat in question, mercifully tempered by the distance into a faint squeak that lent more "enchantment" to its notes than was possessed by the one which had just startled him, corroborated the truth of this statement.

After enjoying the scenery from the hurricane deck for some little time, Fritz made his way below to the forward part of the main deck running into the bows, where he had noticed, while looking down from above, his friend the deck hand of the Garibaldi shirt and blue cotton check trousers—or "pants" as the man would himself probably have called these garments.

He was busily engaged coiling down ropes and otherwise making himself useful, singing the while in a light-hearted way a queer sort of serio- comic and semi-sentimental ditty, the most curious composition Fritz had ever come across.

He, therefore, could not help laughing when the singer arrived at the end of his lay.

The man turned round at once on hearing the sound of his merriment.

"Nice song, that," said Fritz, as soon as he could compose his face sufficiently to speak. "Just the sort of tender tone about it that I like!"

"None o' your gas, mister," replied the other with a smile, which showed that he was not offended at Fritz's chaff. "It's only a lot o' nonsense I picked up somehow or other out West."

"It is a very funny mixture," said Fritz. "It is a wonder to me who imagines these absurd things and makes them up!"

"Right you air," replied the man. "A heap more curious it is than the folks who write the clever things; and the queerest bit about it is, too, that the nonsense spreads quicker and faster than the sense!"

"Human nature," said Fritz laconically, expressing thus his opinion of the matter.

"You're a philosopher, I reckon?" observed the deck hand in reply.

"No, not quite that," answered Fritz, rather surprised at such a remark from a man of the sort. "I merely form conclusions from what I see. I'm only a clerk—and you?"

"I'm a deck hand now," said the other, speaking rather bitterly. "Last fall, I was a cow boy, Minnesota way; next year, I'll be goodness knows what. Once, I was a gentleman!"

"And how—" began Fritz, when the other interrupted him brusquely.

"Put it all down to the cussed drink, mister, and you won't be far out," said he, laughing mockingly, so as to disguise what he really felt by the avowal; "but," he added, to turn the conversation, "you speak very good English for a German, which I ken see you are."

"I was educated partly in England," said Fritz.

"Ah, that accounts for it. Been long in this country?"

"About six weeks," replied Fritz.

"Travelling for pleasure, or looking about you?" was the next query from the deck hand, whom Fritz thought strangely inquisitive for an utter stranger. Still, the man did not mean any harm; it was only the custom of the country, as all new-comers speedily find out.

"I'm looking about for work," he answered rather curtly. "I wish you would get me some."

Fritz thought this would have silenced his interlocutor; but, instead of that, the deck hand proceeded with a fresh string of questions.

"What can you do?" he asked amiably, his smile robbing the words of any impertinence. "You don't look like one who has roughed it much."

"No?" said Fritz, somewhat amused. "You would not think, then, that I had been all through the terrible war we've had with France, eh?"

"Pst!" ejaculated the other. "You don't call that a war, do you? Why, you don't know what a war is in your miserable, played-out old continent! Look at ours, lasting nearly four years, and the battle of Gettysburgh, with thirty thousand dead alone! What do you think of that, hey?"

"Gravelotte had nearly as many," said Fritz quietly.

"All right, mister; we won't argy the p'int now; but you haven't answered me yet as to what you ken do."

"Well, then," answered Fritz, "I can speak and write three languages, keep books, and act as a good correspondent and manager."

"I like that," exclaimed the other admiringly. "You speak slick and straight to the p'int, without any bunkum or blarney, like some of them that come over here. But, what line have you run on in the old country?"

"The shipping business is what I know best about," replied Fritz.

"Ah, that's the reason, I suppose, you asked me if thar wer any ships up to Providence, hey, mister?"

"Yes," said Fritz. "I have applied to all the houses in New York in vain, and I thought I would try my chance at some other seaport town."

"Didn't like going inland, then!"

"No," he answered.

"And so you selected Providence?"

"I only did so from chance. If I had not seen the name painted on the steamer, I would not have thought of speaking to you and asking where she was going."

"And if you had not spoken to me again, why, I would not have known anything about you, nor been able to put you in the way of something," replied the deck hand, more earnestly than he had yet spoken.

"You can do that?" said Fritz eagerly.

"Yes; but wait till we get to Providence. As soon as the old ship is moored alongside the wharf and all the luggage ashore, you come along of me, and I'll show you whar to go. I shall be my own boss then, with no skipper to order me about."

The man hurried off as he said these last words, in obedience to a hail from above—telling him to go and do something or other, "and look smart about it too"—which had probably influenced his remark about being his own "boss" when he got to land; and Fritz did not see him again until the next morning, by which time the steamer had reached its destination.

To Fritz's eyes, Providence was more like a European town than New York, the more especially from his being accustomed to the look of seaports on the Baltic and banks of the Elbe; for the houses were mostly built of stone, and there was much less of that wooden, flimsy look which the newly sprung up cities of America possess.

This old-fashioned appearance is a characteristic of all the New England states—Rhode Island, Massachusetts, and Connecticut—for, here the original "Pilgrim Fathers" settled down and built unto themselves dwellings as nearly like those they had left behind them as it was possible with the materials to their hands, their descendants seemingly keeping up the habit of building in like manner. If this is not the case, then, most certainly, the old buildings of two centuries ago have lasted uncommonly well!

Fritz waited to go ashore until his friend the deck hand should be disengaged. He had seen him soon after they reached the steamer's wharf; and, again, a second time when the crowd of passengers, with the exception of himself, brought up from New York had all disembarked—the man telling him he was just going to "clean himself down a bit," and he would then be ready to take him to a decent place to stop, where he would not be charged too exorbitantly for his board.

And so Fritz waited on the steamer's deck alongside the quay, gazing with much interest at the scene around him.

There were not quite so many ships as his casual acquaintance had led him to expect when he told him he would "see heaps up thaar"; but, still, the port evidently had a large import trade, for several big vessels were moored in the harbour and others were loading up at the wharves or discharging cargo, the latter being in the majority, while lots of smaller sailing craft and tiny boats were flying about, transporting goods and bales of merchandise to other places further up the river.

He had hardly, however, seen half what was in view when some one tapped him on the shoulder, and he turned round.

It was his friend the deck hand of the red flannel shirt and blue check cotton trousers; but, a wonderful transformation had taken place in his dress!

Clad now in an irreproachable suit of black, with a broad, grey felt hat on his head, the man looked quite the gentleman he had represented himself as once being. His manners, too, seemed to have changed with his outer apparel, the off-hand boorishness of the whilom "deck hand" having vanished with his cast-off raiment.

"I'm sorry to have kept you waiting, sir," he said to Fritz, still, however, with the strongly accentuated "sir" he had noticed in those who had spoken to him at New York, "but I've hurried up as quickly as I could. Shall we now go ashore?"

"Certainly," said Fritz, "although you've not detained me, I assure you. I have had plenty to look at during the little time I've been waiting."

"Ah, you've not seen half of Providence yet," replied the other, as the two stepped from the gangway that led from the deck of the steamer on to the stone quay alongside. "Why, some of the houses further up are finer than those of Broadway!"

"This is your native place, I suppose?" said Fritz slyly.

"Yes," answered his companion, "but I do not flatter it on that account."

The two walked on, until presently the Rhode Islander stopped in front of one of the smaller hotels. This looked, despite its lesser proportions, in comparison with its larger rivals, far more respectable and aristocratic—if such terms may be permitted to anything appertaining to the land of so-called "equality" and "freedom," where, according to the poetical belief, there is no aristocracy save hat of merit and shoddy!

"Let's go in here," said the deck hand. "It is a great place for the merchants and sea-captains, and I might be able to introduce you to some one I know while we're having a drink."

"It's too early for that," said Fritz, feeling inclined to draw back, remembering what his companion had confessed the night before about his habits.

"Ah, I see," exclaimed the other, colouring up as he took the hint, being evidently highly sensitive. "But you need not be afraid of that now. I'm always on my good behaviour whenever I come up to Providence. I'm really not going in here to drink now, I assure you; this is a house of call for business people, and I want to see some one just come home whom I know."

"All right, then," said Fritz, going into the hotel without any further protest; when, following his companion through several long passages, they at length entered a large room at the back.

"Jerusalem!" ejaculated the Rhode Islander almost the very instant he had crossed the threshold of this apartment. "If that aren't the identical coon right oppo-site, mister!"

"Where?" asked Fritz.

"There," said the other, pointing to where a rather short, broad- shouldered man was engaged in conversation with a lithe lad, whose back was turned but the colour of whose hair reminded Fritz of poor Eric.

"Hullo, Cap'en Brown," sang out the whilom deck hand at this juncture; and, the broad-shouldered man looking round in the direction whence the voice proceeded, the lad also turned his face towards Fritz.

Good heavens! It was his brother Eric, whom he and every one at home had believed to be buried beneath the ocean with the rest of the boat's crew that had escaped when the Gustav Barentz foundered, nothing of them having been heard since!

With one bound he was across the room.

"Eric!" he exclaimed in astonishment.

"Fritz!" ejaculated the other; and, forgetting their surroundings in the joy of thus meeting again, the two brothers fell into each other's arms, almost weeping with joy.

"By thunder!" said the Rhode Islander to his friend the sea captain, both looking on with much interest at the affecting scene, "I'm glad I made him come in here anyhow, and we'll have a licker-up on the strength of it, Cap'en Brown. It seems it wer a sort of providence that made him take our boat away haar, after all!"



CHAPTER FIFTEEN.

THE YANKEE SKIPPER.

"And how on earth did you escape?" asked Fritz, when he and Eric had somewhat recovered from their first surprise and emotion at meeting again in so unexpected a manner.

"Well, it's a long story to tell, brother," replied Eric, as soon as he could speak calmly, putting his arm through that of Fritz and drawing him towards a sort of long sofa, like a divan, which stretched across one side of the wide apartment where they had so strangely encountered— the other and opposite side of the room being occupied by the usual long hotel "bar," common in most American towns, in front of which various little detached groups of people were standing up, drinking and chatting together. "Suppose we come to an anchor here awhile, and I'll reel you off a yarn about all that has happened to me since I left Lubeck."

"All right, we may as well sit down, at all events," said Fritz. "They won't charge us for that, eh?"

"Oh no, I guess not," answered Eric, with that old light-hearted laugh of his, which his brother had never thought he should ever hear again. "This is a free country, they say, you know!"

"Now tell me all about yourself," said Fritz, when they had ensconced themselves comfortably in the furthest corner of the divan, or settee, which they had pretty much to themselves. "I'm dying to know how you were saved!"

"Right you are, my hearty," replied Eric, in sailor fashion. "Here goes for the log of my cruise in the poor old Gustav Barentz!"

"Fire away!" said Fritz; and then, the lad thereupon began his story.

The ship, Eric declared, was found to be terribly leaky almost as soon as they had started on the voyage, and this necessitated their having to put into Plymouth for repairs, which detained them a considerable time. Indeed, it was as much as they could do to patch her up at all; for, her timbers were so rotten and the vessel had been strained so much from overloading that she was really unfit to be sent to sea. However, as Fritz already knew, the Gustav Barentz managed to clear out of the Channel, reaching the latitude of the Cape de Verde Islands all right, and it was shortly after passing Teneriffe that Eric had been enabled to forward that letter of his which had so gladdened his mother's heart, to Lubeck by a homeward-bound ship. After that, however, all went wrong with the ill-fated vessel. She had knocked about in the doldrums for weeks; and, after making a long leg over to the South American coast, had succeeded at last in getting round the Cape of Good Hope safely— although taking a terrible time over it, and dragging out a most tedious passage from Plymouth—when she met a south-east gale, just as she had entered the Indian Ocean and was shaping a course towards the Straits of Sunda, so as to fetch Java.

Leaky and strained and overladen as the ship was, she was in no condition to fight the elements on fair terms; so the result of it was, that, after being buffetted by the gale for some four days and then, finally, pooped by a heavy following sea as she tried to run before the wind, it was discovered that she was making water too fast for the pumps to be of any avail. Consequently, as nothing further could be done, it was determined to abandon her. Accordingly, the jolly-boat and pinnace were provisioned and launched over the side, the crew being divided between the two, under the direction of the captain and chief officer; and they had hardly time to get into these frail craft, to encounter once again on worse terms the perils of the ocean that had already proved too strong for their vessel, and push off from her side, when they saw the old Gustav Barentz go down before their eyes—foundering almost without a moment's warning.

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