Thoughtful he bent his eyes on the ground, then quietly raised them Up to her face, and, meeting with frankness the gaze of the maiden, Felt himself solaced and stilled. But then impossible was it, That he of love should speak; her eye told not of affection, Only of clear understanding, requiring intelligent answer. And he composed himself quickly, and cordially said to the maiden: "Hearken to me, my child, and let me reply to thy question. 'Twas for thy sake that hither I came; why seek to conceal it? Know I live happy at home with both my affectionate parents, Faithfully giving my aid their house and estates in directing, Being an only son, and because our affairs are extensive. Mine is the charge of the farm; my father bears rule in the household; While the presiding spirit of all is the diligent mother. But thine experience doubtless has taught thee how grievously servants, Now through deceit, and now through their carelessness, harass the mistress, Forcing her ever to change and replace one fault with another. Long for that reason my mother has wished for a maid in the household, Who not with hand alone, but with heart, too, will lend her assistance, Taking the daughter's place, whom, alas! she was early deprived of. How when to-day by the wagon I saw thee, so ready and cheerful, Witnessed the strength of thine arms, and thy limbs of such healthful proportion, When thy intelligent speech I heard, I was smitten with wonder. Hastening homeward, I there to my parents and neighbors the stranger Praised as she well deserved. But I now am come hither to tell thee What is their wish as mine.—Forgive me my stammering language."
"Hesitate not," she, answering, said, "to tell me what follows. Thou dost not give me offence; I have listened with gratitude to thee: Speak it out honestly therefore; the sound of it will not alarm me. Thou wouldst engage me as servant to wait on thy father and mother, And to look after the welt-ordered house of which ye are the owners; And thou thinkest in me to find them a capable servant, One who is skilled in her work, and not of a rude disposition. Short thy proposal has been, and short shall be also my answer. Yes, I will go with thee home, and the call of fate I will follow. Here my duty is done: I have brought the newly made mother Back to her kindred again, who are all in her safety rejoicing. Most of our people already are gathered; the others will follow. All think a few days more will certainly see them returning Unto their homes; for such is the exile's constant delusion. But by no easy hope do I suffer myself to be cheated During these sorrowful days which promise yet more days of sorrow. All the bands of the world have been loosed, and what shall unite them, Saving alone the need, the need supreme, that is on us? If in a good man's house I can earn my living by service, Under the eye of an excellent mistress, I gladly will do it; Since of doubtful repute, must be always a wandering maiden. Yes, I will go with thee, soon as I first shall have carried the pitchers Back to my friends, and prayed the good people to give me their blessing. Come thou must see them thyself, and from their hands must receive me."
Joyfully hearkened the youth to the willing maiden's decision, Doubtful whether he ought not at once to make honest confession. Yet it appeared to him best to leave her awhile in her error, Nor for her love to sue, before leading her home to his dwelling. Ah! and the golden ring he perceived on the hand of the maiden, Wherefore he let her speak on, and gave diligent ear to her language.
"Come," she presently said, "Let us back to the village; for maidens Always are sure to be blamed if they tarry too long at the fountain. Yet how delightful it is to chat by the murmuring water!"
Then from their seats they rose, and both of them turned to the fountain One more look behind, and a tender longing possessed them. Both of the water-jars then in silence she took by the handle, Carried them up the steps, while behind her followed her lover. One of the pitchers he begged her to give him to lighten the burden. "Nay, let it be!" she said: "I carry them better so balanced. Nor shall the master, who is to command, be doing me service. Look not so gravely upon me, as thinking my fortune a hard one. Early a woman should learn to serve, for that is her calling; Since through service alone she finally comes to the headship, Comes to the due command that is hers of right in the household. Early the sister must wait on her brother, and wait on her parents; Life must be always with her a perpetual coming and going, Or be a fetching and carrying, making and doing for others. Happy for her be she wonted to think no way is too grievous, And if the hours of the night be to her as the hours of the daytime; If she find never a needle too fine, nor a labor too trifling; Wholly forgetful of self, and caring to live but in others! For she will surely, as mother, have need of every virtue, When, in the time of her illness, the cries of her infant arouse her Calling for food from her weakness, and cares are to suffering added. Twenty men bound into one were not able to bear such a burden; Nor is it meant that they should, yet should they with gratitude view it."
Thus she spoke, and was come, meanwhile, with her silent companion, Far as the floor of the barn, at the furthermost end of the garden, Where was the sick woman lying, whom, glad, she had left with her daughters, Those late rescued maidens: fair pictures of innocence were they. Both of them entered the barn; and, e'en as they did so, the justice, Leading a child in each hand, came in from the other direction. These had been lost, hitherto, from the sight of their sorrowing mother; But in the midst of the crowd the old man now had descried them. Joyfully sprang they forward to meet their dear mother's embraces, And to salute with delight their brother, their unknown companion. Next upon Dorothea they sprang with affectionate greeting, Asking for bread and fruit, but more than all else for some water. So then she handed the water about; and not only the children Drank, but the sick woman too, and her daughters, and with them the justice. All were refreshed, and highly commended the glorious water; Acid it was to the taste, and reviving, and wholesome to drink of.
Then with a serious face the maiden replied to them, saying: "Friends, for the last time now to your mouth have I lifted my pitcher; And for the last time by me have your lips been moistened with water. But henceforth in the heat of the day when the draught shall refresh you, When in the shade ye enjoy your rest beside a clear fountain, Think of me then sometimes and of all my affectionate service, Prompted more by my love than the duty I owed you as kindred. I shall acknowledge as long as I live the kindness ye've shown me. 'Tis with regret that I leave you; but every one now is a burden, More than a help to his neighbor, and all must be finally scattered Far through a foreign land, if return to our homes be denied us. See, here stands the youth to whom we owe thanks for the presents. He gave the cloak for the baby, and all these welcome provisions. Now he is come, and has asked me if I will make one in his dwelling, That I may serve therein his wealthy and excellent parents. And I refuse not the offer; for maidens must always be serving; Burdensome were it for them to rest and be served in the household. Therefore I follow him gladly. A youth of intelligence seems he, And so will also the parents be, as becometh the wealthy. So then farewell, dear friend; and mayst thou rejoice in thy nursling, Living, and into thy face already so healthfully looking! When thou shalt press him against thy breast in these gay-colored wrappings, Oh, then remember the kindly youth who bestowed them upon us, And who me also henceforth, thy sister, will shelter and nourish. Thou, too, excellent man!" she said as she turned to the justice; "Take my thanks that in many a need I have found thee a father." Then she knelt down on the floor by the side of the newly made mother, Kissing the weeping woman, and taking her low-whispered blessing. Thou, meanwhile, worshipful justice, wast speaking to Hermann and saying: "Justly mayst thou, my friend, be counted among the good masters, Careful to manage their household affairs with capable servants. For I have often observed how in sheep, as in horses and oxen, Men conclude never a bargain without making closest inspection, While with a servant who all things preserves, if honest and able, And who will every thing lose and destroy, if he set to work falsely, Him will a chance or an accident make us admit to our dwelling, And we are left, when too late, to repent an o'er hasty decision. Thou understandest the matter it seems; because thou hast chosen, Thee and thy parents to serve in the house, a maid who is honest. Hold her with care; for as long as thy household is under her keeping, Thou shalt not want for a sister, nor yet for a daughter thy parents."
Many were come, meanwhile, near relatives all of the mother, Bringing her various gifts, and more suitable quarters announcing. All of them, hearing the maiden's decision, gave Hermann their blessing, Coupled with glances of meaning, while each made his special reflections. Hastily one and another would say in the ear of his neighbor: "If in the master a lover she find, right well were she cared for." Hermann took her at last by the hand, and said as he did so: "Let us be going; the day is declining, and distant the city." Eager and voluble then the women embraced Dorothea; Hermann drew her away; but other adieus must be spoken: Lastly the children with cries fell upon her and terrible weeping, Clung to her garments, and would not their dear second mother should leave them. But in a tone of command the women said, one and another: "Hush now, children, she's going to the town, and will presently bring you Plenty of nice sweet cake that was by your brother bespoken When by the stork just now he was brought past the shop of the baker. Soon you will see her come back with sugar-plums splendidly gilded." Then did the little ones loose their hold, and Hermann, though hardly, Tore her from further embraces away, and far-waving kerchiefs.
HERMANN AND DOROTHEA
Towards the setting sun the two thus went on their journey: Close he had wrapped himself round with clouds portending a tempest. Out from the veil, now here and now there, with fiery flashes, Gleaming over the field shot forth the ominous lightning. "May not these threatening heavens," said Hermann, "be presently sending Hailstones upon us and violent rains; for fair is the harvest." And in the waving luxuriant grain they delighted together: Almost as high it reached as the lofty shapes that moved through it.
Thereupon spoke the maiden, and said to her guide and companion: "Friend, unto whom I soon am to owe so kindly a fortune, Shelter and home, while many an exile's exposed to the tempest, Tell me concerning thy parents, I pray thee, and teach me to know them, Them whom with all my heart I desire to serve in the future. Who understands his master, more easily gives satisfaction, Having regard to the things which to him seem chief in importance, And on the doing of which his firm-set mind is determined. Tell me therefore, I pray, how to win thy father and mother."
And to her question made answer the good and intelligent Hermann: "Ah, what wisdom thou showest, thou good, thou excellent maiden, Asking thus first of all concerning the tastes of my parents! Know that in vain hitherto I have labored in serving my father, Taking upon me as were it my own, the charge of the household; Early and late at work in the fields, and o'erseeing the vineyard. But my mother I fully content, who can value my service; And thou wilt also appear in her eyes the worthiest of maidens, If for the house thou carest, as were it thine own thou wast keeping. Otherwise is it with father, who cares for the outward appearance. Do not regard me, good maiden, as one who is cold and unfeeling, That unto thee a stranger I straightway discover my father. Nay, I assure thee that never before have words such as these are Freely dropped from my tongue, which is not accustomed to prattle; But from out of my bosom thou lurest its every secret. Some of the graces of life my good father covets about him, Outward signs of affection he wishes, as well as of honor; And an inferior servant might possibly give satisfaction, Who could turn these to account, while he might be displeased with a better."
Thereupon said she with joy, the while her hastening footsteps Over the darkening pathway with easy motion she quickened: "Truly I hope to them both I shall equally give satisfaction: For in thy mother's nature I find such an one as mine own is, And to the outward graces I've been from my childhood accustomed. Greatly was courtesy valued among our neighbors the Frenchmen, During their earlier days; it was common to noble and burgher, As to the peasant, and every one made it the rule of his household. So, on the side of us Germans, the children were likewise accustomed Daily to bring to their parents, with kissing of hands and with curtseys, Morning good-wishes, and all through the day to be prettily mannered. Every thing thus that I learned, and to which I've been used from my childhood, All that my heart shall suggest, shall be brought into play for thy father. But who shall tell me of thee, and how thyself shouldst be treated, Thou the only son of the house, and henceforth my master?"
Thus she said, and e'en as she spoke they stood under the pear-tree. Down from the heavens the moon at her full was shedding her splendor. Night had come on, and wholly obscured was the last gleam of sunlight, So that contrasting masses lay side by side with each other, Clear and bright as the day, and black with the shadows of midnight; Gratefully fell upon Hermann's ear the kindly asked question Under the shade of the glorious tree, the spot he so treasured, Which but this morning had witnessed the tears he had shed for the exile. And while they sat themselves down to rest them here for a little, Thus spoke the amorous youth, as he grasped the hand of the maiden: "Suffer thy heart to make answer, and follow it freely in all things." Yet naught further he ventured to say although so propitious Seemed the hour: he feared he should only haste on a refusal. Ah, and he felt besides the ring on her finger, sad token! Therefore they sat there, silent and still, beside one another.
First was the maiden to speak: "How sweet is this glorious moonlight!" Said she at length: "It is as the light of the day in its brightness. There in the city I plainly can see the houses and courtyards, And in the gable—methinks I can number its panes-is a window."
"What thou seest," the modest youth thereupon made her answer,— "What thou seest is our dwelling, to which I am leading thee downward, And that window yonder belongs to my room in the attic, Which will be thine perhaps, for various changes are making. All these fields, too, are ours; they are ripe for the harvest to-morrow. Here in the shade we will rest, and partake of our noontide refreshment. But it is time we began our descent through the vineyard and garden; For dost thou mark how yon threatening storm-cloud comes nearer and nearer, Charged with lightning, and ready our fair full moon to extinguish?"
So they arose from their seats, and over the cornfields descended, Through the luxuriant grain, enjoying the brightness of evening, Until they came to the vineyard, and so entered into its shadow. Then he guided her down o'er the numerous blocks that were lying, Rough and unhewn on the pathway, and served as the steps of the alley. Slowly the maiden descended, and leaning her hands on his shoulder, While with uncertain beams, the moon through the leaves overlooked them, Ere she was veiled by the cloud, and so left the couple in darkness. Carefully Hermann's strength supported the maid that hung o'er him; But, not knowing the path and the rough-hewn steps that led down it, Missed she her footing, her ankle turned, and she surely had fallen, Had not the dexterous youth his arm outstretched in an instant, And his beloved upheld. She gently sank on his shoulder; Breast was pressed against breast, and cheek against cheek. Thus he stood there Fixed as a marble statue, the force of will keeping him steadfast, Drew her not to him more closely, but braced himself under her pressure. Thus he the glorious burden felt, the warmth of her bosom, And the perfume of her breath, that over his lips was exhaling; Bore with the heart of a man the majestic form of the woman.
But she with playfulness said, concealing the pain that she suffered: "That is a sign of misfortune, so timorous persons would tell us, When on approaching a house we stumble not far from the threshold; And for myself, I confess, I could wish for a happier omen. Let us here linger awhile that thy parents may not have to blame thee, Seeing a limping maid, and thou seem an incompetent landlord."
Muses, O ye who the course of true love so willingly favor, Ye who thus far on his way the excellent youth have conducted, Even before the betrothal have pressed to his bosom the maiden; Further your aid vouchsafe this charming pair in uniting, Straightway dispersing the clouds which over their happiness lower! Yet first of all declare what is passing meanwhile at the Lion.
Now for the third time again the mother impatient had entered Where were assembled the men, whom anxious but now she had quitted; Spoke of the gathering storm, and the moonlight's rapid obscuring; Then of her son's late tarrying abroad and the dangers of nightfall; Sharply upbraided her friends that without having speech of the maiden, And without urging his suit, they had parted from Hermann so early.
"Make it not worse than it is," the father replied with displeasure. "For, as thou seest, we tarry ourselves and are waiting the issue."
Calmly, however, from where he was sitting the neighbor made answer: "Never in hours of disquiet like this do I fail to be grateful Unto my late, blessed father, who every root of impatience Tore from my heart when a child, and left no fibre remaining; So that I learned on the instant to wait as do none of your sages."
"Tell us," the pastor returned, "what legerdemain he made use of." "That will I gladly relate, for all may draw from it a lesson;" So made the neighbor reply. "When a boy I once stood of a Sunday Full of impatience, and looking with eagerness out for the carriage Which was to carry us forth to the spring that lies under the lindens. Still the coach came not. I ran, like a weasel, now hither, now thither, Up stairs and down, and forward and back, 'twixt the door and the window; Even my fingers itched to be moving; I scratched on the tables, Went about pounding and stamping, and hardly could keep me from weeping. All was observed by the calm-tempered man; but at last when my folly Came to be carried too far, by the arm he quietly took me, Led me away to the window, and spoke in this serious language: 'Seest thou yonder the carpenter's shop that is closed for the Sunday? He will re-open to-morrow, when plane and saw will be started, And will keep on through the hours of labor from morning till evening. But consider you this,—a day will be presently coming When that man shall himself be astir and all of his workmen, Making a coffin for thee to be quickly and skilfully finished. Then that house of boards they will busily bring over hither, Which must at last receive alike the impatient and patient, And which is destined soon with close-pressing roof to be covered.' Straightway I saw the whole thing in my mind as if it were doing; Saw the boards fitting together, and saw the black color preparing, Sat me down patiently then, and in quiet awaited the carriage. Now when others I see, in seasons of anxious expectance, Running distracted about, I cannot but think of the coffin."
Smiling, the pastor replied: "The affecting picture of death stands Not as a dread to the wise, and not as an end to the pious. Those it presses again into life, and teaches to use it; These by affliction it strengthens in hope to future salvation. Death becomes life unto both. Thy father was greatly mistaken When to a sensitive boy he death in death thus depicted. Let us the value of nobly ripe age, point out to the young man, And to the aged the youth, that in the eternal progression Both may rejoice, and life may in life thus find its completion."
But the door was now opened, and showed the majestical couple. Filled with amaze were the friends, and amazed the affectionate parents, Seeing the form of the maid so well matched with that of her lover. Yea, the door seemed too low to allow the tall figures to enter, As they together now appeared coming over the threshold.
Hermann, with hurried words, presented her thus to his parents: "Here is a maiden," he said; "such a one as ye wish in the household. Kindly receive her, dear father: she merits it well; and thou, mother, Question her straightway on all that belongs to a housekeeper's duty, That ye may see how well she deserves to ye both to be nearer."
Quickly he then drew aside the excellent clergyman, saying: "Help me, O worthy sir, and speedily out of this trouble; Loosen, I pray thee, this knot, at whose untying I tremble. Know that 'tis not as a lover that I have brought hither the maiden; But she believes that as servant she comes to the house, and I tremble Lest in displeasure she fly as soon as there's mention of marriage. But be it straightway decided; for she no longer in error Thus shall be left, and I this suspense no longer can suffer. Hasten and show us in this a proof of the wisdom we honor."
Towards the company then the clergyman instantly turned him; But already, alas! had the soul of the maiden been troubled, Hearing the father's speech; for he, in his sociable fashion, Had in these playful words, with the kindest intention addressed her: "Ay, this is well, my child! with delight I perceive that my Hermann Has the good taste of his father, who often showed his in his young days, Leading out always the fairest to dance, and bringing the fairest Finally home as his wife; our dear little mother here that was. For by the bride that a man shall elect we can judge what himself is, Tell what the spirit is in him, and whether he feel his own value. Nor didst thou need for thyself, I'll engage, much time for decision; For, in good sooth, methinks, he's no difficult person to follow."
Hermann had heard but in part; his limbs were inwardly trembling, And of a sudden a stillness had fallen on all of the circle.
But by these words of derision, for such she could not but deem them, Wounded, and stung to the depths of her soul, the excellent maiden, Stood, while the fugitive blood o'er her cheeks and e'en to her bosom, Poured its flush. But she governed herself, and her courage collecting, Answered the old man thus, her pain not wholly concealing: "Truly for such a reception thy son had in no wise prepared me, When he the ways of his father described, the excellent burgher. Thou art a man of culture, I know, before whom I am standing; Dealest with every one wisely, according as suits his position; But thou hast scanty compassion, it seems, on one such as I am, Who, a poor girl, am now crossing thy threshold with purpose to serve thee; Else, with such bitter derision, thou wouldst not have made me remember How far removed my fortune from that of thyself and thy son is. True, I come poor to thy house, and bring with me naught but my bundle Here where is every abundance to gladden the prosperous inmates. Yet I know well myself; I feel the relations between us, Say, is it noble, with so much of mockery straightway to greet me, That I am sent from the house while my foot is scarce yet on the threshold?"
Anxiously Hermann turned and signed to his ally the pastor That he should rush to the rescue and straightway dispel the delusion. Then stepped the wise man hastily forward and looked on the maiden's Tearful eyes, her silent pain and repressed indignation, And in his heart was impelled not at once to clear up the confusion, Rather to put to the test the girl's disquieted spirit. Therefore he unto her said in language intended to try her: "Surely, thou foreign-born maiden, thou didst not maturely consider, When thou too rashly decidedst to enter the service of strangers, All that is meant by the placing thyself 'neath the rule of a master; For by our hand to a bargain the fate of the year is determined, And but a single 'yea' compels to much patient endurance. Not the worst part of the service the wearisome steps to be taken, Neither the bitter sweat of a labor that presses unceasing; Since the industrious freeman must toil as well as the servant. But 'tis to bear with the master's caprice when he censures unjustly, Or when, at variance with self, he orders now this, now the other; Bear with the petulance, too, of the mistress, easily angered, And with the rude, overbearing ways of unmannerly children. All this is hard to endure, and yet to go on with thy duties Quickly, without delay, nor thyself grow sullen and stubborn. Yet thou appearest ill fitted for this, since already so deeply Stung by the father's jests: whereas there is nothing more common Than for a girl to be teased on account of a youth she may fancy."
Thus he spoke. The maiden had felt the full force of his language, And she restrained her no more; but with passionate outburst her feelings Made themselves way; a sob broke forth from her now heaving bosom, And, while the scalding tears poured down, she straightway made answer: "Ah, that rational man who thinks to advise us in sorrow, Knows not how little of power his cold words have in relieving Ever a heart from that woe which a sovereign fate has inflicted. Ye are prosperous and glad; how then should a pleasantry wound you? Yet but the lightest touch is a source of pain to the sick man. Nay, concealment itself, if successful, had profited nothing. Better show now what had later increased to a bitterer anguish, And to an inward consuming despair might perhaps have reduced me. Let me go back! for here in this house I can tarry no longer. I will away, and wander in search of my hapless companions, Whom I forsook in their need; for myself alone choosing the better. This is my firm resolve, and I therefore may make a confession Which might for years perhaps have else lain hid in my bosom. Deeply indeed was I hurt by the father's words of derision; Not that I'm sensitive, proud beyond what is fitting a servant; But that my heart in truth had felt itself stirred with affection Towards the youth who to-day had appeared to my eyes as a savior. When he first left me there on the road, he still remained present, Haunting my every thought; I fancied the fortunate maiden Whom as a bride, perhaps, his heart had already elected. When at the fountain I met him again, the sight of him wakened Pleasure as great as if there had met me an angel from heaven; And with what gladness I followed, when asked to come as his servant. True, that I flattered myself in my heart,—I will not deny it,— While we were hitherward coming, I might peradventure deserve him, Should I become at last the important stay of the household. Now I, alas! for the first time see what risk I was running, When I would make my home so near to the secretly loved one; Now for the first time feel how far removed a poor maiden Is from an opulent youth, no matter how great her deserving. All this I now confess, that my heart ye may not misinterpret, In that 'twas hurt by a chance to which I owe my awaking. Hiding my secret desires, this dread had been ever before me, That at some early day he would bring him a bride to his dwelling; And ah, how could I then my inward anguish have suffered! Happily I have been warned, and happily now has my bosom Been of its secret relieved, while yet there is cure for the evil. But no more; I have spoken; and now shall nothing detain me Longer here in a house where I stay but in shame and confusion, Freely confessing my love and that foolish hope that I cherished. Not the night which abroad is covered with lowering storm clouds; Not the roll of the thunder—I hear its peal—shall deter me; Not the pelt of the rain which without is beating in fury; Neither the blustering tempest; for all these things have I suffered During our sorrowful flight, and while the near foe was pursuing. Now I again go forth, as I have so long been accustomed, Carried away by the whirl of the times, and from every thing parted. Fare ye well! I tarry no longer; all now is over."
Thus she spoke and back to the door she hastily turned her, Still bearing under her arm, as she with her had brought it, her bundle. But with both of her arms the mother seized hold of the maiden, Clasping her round the waist, and exclaiming, amazed and bewildered: "Tell me, what means all this? and these idle tears, say, what mean they? I will not let thee depart: thou art the betrothed of my Hermann."
But still the father stood, observing the scene with displeasure, Looked on the weeping girl, and said in a tone of vexation: "This then must be the return that I get for all my indulgence, That at the close of the day this most irksome of all things should happen! For there is naught I can tolerate less than womanish weeping, Violent outcries, which only involve in disorder and passion, What with a little of sense had been more smoothly adjusted. Settle the thing for yourselves: I'm going to bed; I've no patience Longer to be a spectator of these your marvellous doings." Quickly he turned as he spoke, and hastened to go to the chamber Where he was wonted to rest, and his marriage bed was kept standing, But he was held by his son, who said in a tone of entreaty: "Father, hasten not from us, and be thou not wroth with the maiden. I, only I, am to blame as the cause of all this confusion, Which by his dissimulation our friend unexpectedly heightened. Speak, O worthy sir; for to thee my cause I intrusted. Heap not up sorrow and anger, but rather let all this be ended; For I could hold thee never again in such high estimation, If thou shouldst show but delight in pain, not superior wisdom."
Thereupon answered and said the excellent clergyman, smiling: "Tell me, what other device could have drawn this charming confession Out of the good maiden's lips, and thus have revealed her affection? Has not thy trouble been straightway transformed into gladness and rapture? Therefore speak up for thyself; what need of the tongue of another?"
Thereupon Hermann came forward, and spoke in these words of affection: "Do not repent of thy tears, nor repent of these passing distresses; For they complete my joy, and—may I not hope it-thine also? Not to engage the stranger, the excellent maid, as a servant, Unto the fountain I came; but to sue for thy love I came thither. Only, alas! my timorous look could thy heart's inclination Nowise perceive; I read in thine eyes of nothing but kindness, As from the fountain's tranquil mirror thou gavest me greeting. Might I but bring thee home, the half of my joy was accomplished. But thou completest it unto me now; oh, blest be thou for it!" Then with a deep emotion the maiden gazed on the stripling; Neither forbade she embrace and kiss, the summit of rapture, When to a loving pair they come as the longed-for assurance, Pledge of a lifetime of bliss, that appears to them now never-ending.
Unto the others, meanwhile, the pastor had made explanation. But with feeling and grace the maid now advanced to the father, Bent her before him, and kissing the hand he would fain have withholden, Said: "Thou wilt surely be just and forgive one so startled as I was, First for my tears of distress, and now for the tears of my gladness. That emotion forgive me, and oh! forgive me this also. For I can scarce comprehend the happiness newly vouchsafed me. Yes, let that first vexation of which I, bewildered, was guilty Be too the last. Whatever the maid of affectionate service Faithfully promised, shall be to thee now performed by the daughter." Straightway then, concealing his tears, the father embraced her, Cordially, too, the mother came forward and kissed her with fervor, Pressing her hands in her own: the weeping women were silent.
Thereupon quickly he seized, the good and intelligent pastor, First the father's hand, and the wedding-ring drew from his finger,— Not so easily either: the finger was plump and detained it,— Next took the mother's ring also, and with them betrothed he the children, Saying: "These golden circlets once more their office performing Firmly a tie shall unite, which in all things shall equal the old one, Deeply is this young man imbued with love of the maiden, And, as the maiden confesses, her heart is gone out to him also. Here do I therefore betroth you and bless for the years that are coming, With the consent of the parents, and having this friend as a witness."
Then the neighbor saluted at once, and expressed his good wishes; But when the clergyman now the golden circlet was drawing Over the maiden's hand, he observed with amazement the other, Which had already by Hermann been anxiously marked at the fountain. And with a kindly raillery thus thereupon he addressed her: "So, then thy second betrothal is this? let us hope the first bridegroom May not appear at the altar, and so prohibit the marriage."
But she, answering, said: "Oh, let me to this recollection Yet one moment devote; for so much is due the good giver, Him who bestowed it at parting, and never came back to his kindred. All that should come he foresaw, when in haste the passion for freedom, When a desire in the newly changed order of things to be working, Urged him onward to Paris, where chains and death he encountered. 'Fare thee well,' were his words; 'I go, for all is in motion Now for a time on the earth, and every thing seems to be parting. E'en in the firmest states fundamental laws are dissolving; Property falls away from the hand of the ancient possessor; Friend is parted from friend; and so parts lover from lover. Here I leave thee, and where I shall find thee again, or if ever, Who can tell? Perhaps these words are our last ones together. Man's but a stranger here on the earth, we are told and with reason; And we are each of us now become more of strangers than ever. Ours no more is the soil, and our treasures are all of them changing: Silver and gold are melting away from their time-honored patterns. All is in motion as though the already-shaped world into chaos Meant to resolve itself backward into night, and to shape itself over. Mine thou wilt keep thine heart, and should we be ever united Over the ruins of earth, it will be as newly made creatures, Beings transformed and free, no longer dependent on fortune; For can aught fetter the man who has lived through days such as these are! But if it is not to be, that, these dangers happily over, Ever again we be granted the bliss of mutual embraces, Oh, then before thy thoughts so keep my hovering image That with unshaken mind thou be ready for good or for evil! Should new ties allure thee again, and a new habitation, Enter with gratitude into the joys that fate shall prepare thee; Love those purely who love thee; be grateful to them who show kindness. But thine uncertain foot should yet be planted but lightly, For there is lurking the twofold pain of a new separation. Blessings attend thy life; but value existence no higher Than thine other possessions, and all possessions are cheating!' Thus spoke the noble youth, and never again I beheld him. Meanwhile I lost my all, and a thousand times thought of his warning. Here, too, I think of his words, when love is sweetly preparing Happiness for me anew, and glorious hopes are reviving, Oh forgive me, excellent friend, that e'en while I hold thee Close to my side I tremble! So unto the late-landed sailor Seem the most solid foundations of firmest earth to be rocking."
Thus she spoke, and placed the two rings on her finger together. But her lover replied with a noble and manly emotion: "So much the firmer then, amid these universal convulsions, Be, Dorothea, our union! We two will hold fast and continue, Firmly maintaining ourselves, and the right to our ample possessions. For that man, who, when times are uncertain, is faltering in spirit, Only increases the evil, and further and further transmits it; While he refashions the world, who keeps himself steadfastly minded. Poorly becomes it the German to give to these fearful excitements Aught of continuance, or to be this way and that way inclining. This is our own! let that be our word, and let us maintain it! For to those resolute peoples respect will be ever accorded, Who for God and the laws, for parents, women and children, Fought and died, as together they stood with their front to the foeman. Thou art mine own; and now what is mine, is mine more than ever. Not with anxiety will I preserve it, and trembling enjoyment; Rather with courage and strength. To-day should the enemy threaten, Or in the future, equip me thyself and hand me my weapons. Let me but know that under thy care are my house and dear parents, Oh! I can then with assurance expose my breast to the foeman. And were but every man minded like me, there would be an upspring Might against might, and peace should revisit us all with its gladness."