« EdellinenJatka »
himself, “ work with my hands as indeed seldom or never go down this poor woman does ? I have still them. The old Christina is the only health and strength. But no-I dare person who will miss it, and I will not-she would then, for the first say to her very gravely-Look you, time, feel the misery of our position; old lady, do you think that a noble she would torture herself to work oak of the forest is to be hewn down, also; besides, we should be discover- and then planed and polished by cared and separated-and, come what penters and joiners, merely that you may, while we can yet live, we are may come up and down these steps a happy."
little more easily? No, no, such a Clara returned in excellent spirits. magnificent banister is a most palThey sat down to their frugal and pable superfluity." cheerful meal, to which some addi- “ Since it is done,” said Clara, “I tions had been made by the obstinate will at least take my share in this new kindness of old Christina. “ I could species of woodcraft.” not have the heart to refuse her," So they laid the beam, which filled said Clara. Now, if only wood the apartment, on two chairs, and were not wanting, all would be first they sawed with united efforts at well."
the middle to make it the more maThe next morning Clara slept longer nageable. It was hard work, for the than usual. She was surprised, on oak was tough, and the saw was old, waking, to see that the day had and the workmen were more willing dawned, and still more to find that than skilful ; but at length it came in her husband had left her side. Her two with a crash. astonishment was further increased ** Well," said Clara, as she looked when she heard, in the next room, a up, and threw her ringlets aside, her crashing and grating noise, as of one face glowing with the unwonted exsawing through an obstinate piece of ercise, “ this work has one advantage timber. She got up as speedily as at least; we want no fire this mornpossible, to ascertain the cause of these ing to warm us." unusual events.
After sawing off several square " Henry,” she cried, as she entered blocks, Henry set to work with his
“ what are you about hatchet to cleave them into pieces there?”
fit for the stove. It was fortunate " Sawing wood, my dear," he re- that, during this operation, which plied, as he looked up panting from made the walls of their little dwelling his labours.
re-echo, their landlord was absent. " But how in the world did you Nor were the neighbours likely to be come by that saw, and this famous much surprised at the noise, as many piece of wood ?”
handicraftsmen inhabited that local" I remembered," answered Henry, ity. “having seen in the loft above us, On this eventful day breakfast had soon after we came here, in one of been forgotten; dinner and breakfast my voyages of discovery, a saw and were consolidated into one meal. This a hatchet, belonging, I suppose, to being dispatched with their usual some previous tenant of our apart- cheerfulness, they retired to their seat ment, or perhaps to our old landlord. by the window. To-day there was So much for these brave tools. As to no frost upon the glass; and the sky this noble piece of wood, it was till —all that could be seen of it—was this morning the banister to our stair- clear as crystal. It was a curiously case. Observe what solid, substantial simple prospect which this window men our ancestors were! What a presented.
Underneath them, over broad, magnificent piece of oak! This the ground-floor of the house, had will make a quite different sort of been constructed—for what reason it fire from your deal shavings and slips would not be easy to say—a tiled of fir.”
roof, which projected in such a man“ But,” cried Clara, “ the damage ner as completely to hide the narrow to the bouse!”
street from their view. In front “ No one comes to see us,” said stretched the long low roof of a buildHenry. “We know these steps, and ing, which seemed to be used as a
warehouse; and on both sides they directly and see what is the matter were hemmed in by the blank pro- with her.” jecting walls and the tall chimneys “ It is so long since you descended of larger houses-so that certain these steps, and there is no banistermasses of brickwork, a long roof, and you will fall." a fragment of the open sky, was all “No, no, I know the steps—I could that the eye could possibly command. find them in the dark." This complete isolation suited the 5. Those steps,” said Henry, with a lovers very well; for, besides that it mock solemnity of manner" those effectually concealed them from the steps will you never tread again !" discovery of their pursuers, it per- "Oh, there is something you conmitted them to stand at the window, ceal from me!” exclaimed Clara. and talk and caress, without the re- Say what you will, I will go down straint occasioned by envious spec- and see Christina." tators. When they first occupied the She turned quickly round and openapartment, if they heard an unusual ed the door, but Henry clasped her as noise out of doors, they naturally ran quickly in his arms. to the window to look down into the My dear," cried he, “ will you street; and it was not till after many break your neck ?" fruitless experiments that they learn- The secret was at once disclosed. ed to sit quiet on such occasions. It They stepped together to the landingwas quite an event if a cat was seen place. There were no longer any stealthily making its way over the stairs to be seen. Clara clasped her long sloping roof in front of them. In little hands as she looked first down the summer, when the sparrows built into the dark precipice below, and their nests in the tall chimneys on then at her husband, who maintained either side, and were perpetually fly- the most comical gravity in the world. ing to and fro, twittering, caressing, She then ran back to the stove, snatchquarrelling—this was quite a society. ed up one of the pieces of wood, and, When a chimney-sweeper once thrust looking at it closely, said—“Ah, now out his black face from one of these I see why the grain was so different! So, chimneys, and shouted aloud to tes- then, we have burned up the stairs ? tify the accomplishment of his ascent, “So it seems," answered Henry, it was an event that brought a shriek quite calmly. “I hardly know why I of surprise from Clara.
kept this secret from you—perhaps Thus passed the days, and the pair that you might not be distressed by were happy as kings, though they any superfluous scruples. Now that were living very like beggars. Very you know it, I am sure you will find singular was their power of abstrac- it quite reasonable." tion from the future, their entire satis- " But Christina ?” faction with the present. Clara, it is "Oh, she is quite well! In the true, cast some anxious thoughts after morning I let her down a cord, to the wood ; but Henry brought in which she fastens her little basket. every morning the necessary supply: This I draw up, and afterwards the there was no symptoms of failure. water-jug. Our housekeeping proShe thought indeed, of late, that the ceeds in the most orderly fashion in grain of the wood seemed altered; but the world. When the banister was it burned as well as ever.
at an end, it struck me that one half Where,”
,” said Clara, one morning, at least of the steps of our staircase 11 where is our faithful Christina ? I might be dispensed with ; it was but have not seen her for many a day. to step a little higher, as one is forced You rise in the morning before I can to do in many houses. With the help get up-you take in the bread and of Christina, who entered into this the water-jug--I never see her. Why philosophical view of the matter, I does she not come up? Is she ill ?" broke off the first, third, fifth, and so
“No," said Ilenry, with a slight forth. When one half of the steps embarrassment of manner, which his was consumed, the other half was also wife did not fail to detect.
condemned as superfluous-for what “Ah! you conceal something from do we want with stairs, we who never me," she cried. “I will go down
“ But the landlord ?”
Meanwhile the more sensible do“ He will not return till Easter. mestic had at once run for a light. Meanwhile the weather will be getting This he now returned with, and, holdmilder, and there are still some old ing it up in his sturdy fist, he illumidoors and planks up above, which I nated the quite empty space. shall pronounce altogether superfluous. -66 Ten thousand devils !” exclaimed Therefore warm thee, dearest Clara, the landlord, as he gazed around and without any care for the future." above him with astonishment. "This
Things, however, did not quite fall is the strangest business ! Herr out as expected. On the afternoon of Brand ! Herr Brand! Is any one up that very same day, a carriage was there ?" heard to drive up to the little house. It was of no use to deny himself. They heard the rattling of the wheels, Henry stepped out, bent over the the stopping of the vehicle, the descent landing, and saw, by the uncertain of the passengers. It was in vain to flicker of the light, the portly form of put their heads out of window, they his landlord. could see nothing there. But they “Ah, my worthy friend, Herr Emheard the sound of unpacking, then merich !” he called out in the blandest the greeting of neighbours—it was manner imaginable, “you are most evident, beyond a doubt, that their welcome. It speaks well for the gout dreaded landlord had returned home that you have returned so much earmuch sooner than he ought. The lier than your appointed time. I heavy tread of the gouty gentleman am delighted to see you looking so now resounded in the passage—the well." crisis was at hand. Henry stood at “ Your obedient servant,” answered the half-open door, listening. Clara the other; “but that is not the quessat within, regarding him with a ques- tion. What has become of my stairs ? " tioning look.
" Stairs ! were there any stairs "I must go up," the landlord was here?” said Henry. Indeed, my now heard to say ; “I must go up, friend, I go out so seldom, or rather and see after my lodgers. I hope not at all, that I take no notice of they are as cheerful as ever, and the any thing out of my own chamber. I young wife as pretty."
study, I work-I concern myself about There was a pause. The old man little else." was groping about in the dark.
“ Herr Brand," said the landlord, “ How is this?” he muttered to half choking with rage,
we must himself. “Don't know my own house! speak about this in another tone! You Not here not there! Ulric! Ulric! are the only lodger. You shall give help here!”
an account before a court of jusUlric, his servant and factotum, tice". came to his assistance.
“Be not over wroth," replied Henry. “Help me up these stairs,” said “ If you really contemplate legal prothe landlord. " I am blinded—be- ceedings, I think I can be of use to witched! I cannot find the steps, and you; for, now I think of it, I perfectly yet they were broad enough!”
remember that there were stairs here, 66 Herr Emmerich," said the old and have a vivid recollection of havand somewhat surly domestic, "you ing, in your absence, used them.” are a little giddy from travelling."
Ti Used them !” cried the old man, "An hypothesis," whispered Henry, stamping with his feet; "and how turning to his wife, “which unhappily used them ? You have destroyed will not hold.”
them—you have destroyed the house." “ Zounds !” cried Ulric, who had “Nay, do not exaggerate, Herr run his head against the wall, “I Emmerich. I cannot ask you to walk have lost my wits too!”
up-stairs, or you might see that these “I am groping right and left," said rooms we inhabit are in a perfect state the landlord, " and all round, and up of preservation. As to this ladder, above. I think the devil has taken which was but an asses' bridge for the stairs !”
tedious visitors and bad men, I re“Another hypothesis,” whispered moved it with great difficulty, as being Henry, “and a very bold one." superfluous."
" But these steps," cried Emmerich, he, “like our famous Götz in his " with their noble banister, these two- Taxthausen. This obstinate trumand-twenty broad, strong oaken steps, peter has summoned me to surrender were an integral part of my house. at mercy, and I will now answer him Old as I am, I never heard of a lodger in the manner of our great model.” who dealt as he pleased with the stairs Clara smiled. of a house."
“ Your fate is my fate,” she said, “Be patient,” said Henry, and and added to herself in a low voice : you shall hear the real connexion of “I think, if my father saw us now, he events. The post failed in bringing would forgive all.” our necessary remittances; the winter Henry again stepped out upon the was unusually severe; all ordinary landing, and seeing they were verily means of procuring fuel were wanting; bringing in a ladder, called to them in I had recourse to this sort of forced a solemn tone-" Gentlemen, bethink loan. At the same time I did not you what you do. I have been preparthink, respected sir, that you would ed, weeks ago, for every thing-for the return before the warm summer wea- very worst that can happen. I will not ther.”
be taken prisoner, but intend to de- Nonsense!” said the landlord. fend myself to the last drop of my “Summer weather! Do you think blood. Here do I bring two blunderthat these my stairs will sprout out busses loaded with ball, and this old again, like asparagus, when the sum- cannon, a fearful piece of ordnance, mer comes ?”
full to the throat with every destrucReally,” said Henry, “I am not tive ingredient. I have in this chamsufficiently acquainted with the growth ber powder and ball, cartridges, lead, and habits of the stair-plant to deter- all things necessary to sustain the mine."
war; whilst my brave wife, who has “ Ulric !" cried the wrathful land- been accustomed to fire-arms, will lord, run for the police. You shall load the pieces as I fire them. Adfind this no jesting matter.”
vance, therefore, if you wish blood to The police arrived. The inspector flow.". was scandalized at the outrage which Henry had laid two sticks and an had been committed, and summoned old boot upon the floor. the delinquent to surrender."
The leader of the police, who could “Never!" said Henry. “An Eng- distinguish nothing in the dark, becklishman says well that his house is oned to his men to stand back. his castle ; and mine is a castle with “Better," said he to Herr Emmethe drawbridge up."
rich, " that we starve out this formid“There is an easy remedy for that, able rebel.” said the officer, who thereupon called “ Starve, indeed!” said Henry : for a ladder, and gave command to we are provided for months to come his men to mount, to bind the crimi- with all sorts of dried fruits-plums, nal with cords, and bring him down pears, apples, biscuits. The winter to his condign punishment.
is nearly passed, but should fuel fail The house was now filled with the us, there is still in the roof above people of the neighbourhood. Men, much superfluous timber.” women, and children had been attract- "Oh, hear the beathen !” cried Emed to the spot, and a crowd of curious
merich in agony.
• First he breaks spectators, assembled in the street, to pieces the bottom of my house, made their comments upon the busi- and then he threatens to unroof it." ness.
Clara had seated herself near "It is beyond all example," said the window, not a little embarrassed; the officer. but as she saw that her husband still Many of the spectators, however, retained his accustomed cheerfulness, were secretly pleased at the distress she also kept her self-possession-not, of the avaricious landlord. Some however, without much wondering suggested the calling in of the milihow it would all end. Henry came tary, with their guns. in for a moment to hearten her, and “For Heaven's sake, no !” cried also to fetch something from the room. Emmerich; the house will then be
“We are shut up, my dear,” said utterly destroyed.”
“ You are quite right,” said Henry. “No one ascends to this place!” " And have you forgotten what for said Henry. many years every newspaper has been “Not if he brings back the Chaurepeating to us, that the first cannon- cer, the edition of Caxton ?" shot, let it fall where it may, will set óc 0 Heaven ! the good angel all Europe in a blaze?”
may ascend!" and immediately ran " He is a demagogue, a carbonaro," back to Clara to communicate the said the officer. " Who knows what joyful news. “Our Sickingen verily confederates he may have even in this come!” he exclaimed. Tears of joy crowd which surrounds us?"
were starting to his eyes. The alarm of the officer seemed, for A few words from the stranger, a moment, to be justified, for a shout addressed to the landlord and the was now heard from some of the officer, produced a sudden calm. populace who were collected in the The ladder was raised, and Henry, in street. Emmerich and the officer a moment, was in the arms of his old turned round to enquire into the friend Andreas Vandelmeer! All was meaning of this new demonstration. now joy and congratulation in the Henry took the opportunity to whis- little apartment, as Henry introduced per a word to his young wife.
to his friend his dear and beautiful “ Be of good cheer,” he said; “we wife. The first greetings passed, gain time. We shall be able to capi- Vandelmeer informed them that the tulate. Perhaps even a Sickingen small fortune which Henry had enmay come to our rescue.
trusted to his care had increased and The shout of the mob had been multiplied itself, and that he might occasioned by the appearance of a now consider himself a rich man. brilliant equipage, which made its Vandelmeer, on his return from India, way slowly through the thronged and had landed at the port of London. narrow street. The footmen were There it had occurred to him to proclad in splendid livery, and a coach- cure some antiquarian present for his man, covered with lace, drove four friend, like that which he had formerprancing steeds. The mob might be ly given him. Entering the bookexcused for shouting “The king ! seller's where his previous purchase The king!” The carriage stopped had been made, he saw a Chaucer, before the door of the house which which attracted his attention from its was now become the great point of similarity to the one he had procured attraction, and a nobleman descended, for his friend. It was, in fact, the elegantly attired and decorated with
It had found its way back to orders and crosses.
its original owner. On opening it, he “Does a certain Herr Brand live found some melancholy lines written here?” enquired the illustrious stran- on the fly-leaf, and signed with his ger ; and what means all this up- present name and address. He im
mediately repurchased the book, and Hereupon fifty different voices hastened to the discovery, and, as it made answer with as many different proved, the rescue of his friend. accounts. The landlord, stepping To complete the happiness of all forward, pointed to the dilapidated parties, he was able to inform them condition of the house, and explained that the father of Clara had laid aside the real state of affairs. The stranger his anger, and was desirous of discontinued to advance into the hall, covering his daughter only that he and called with a loud voice, “Does might receive and forgive her. What Herr Brand live here?"
need to say more? Even the landYes,” replied Henry from above; lord was content, and had reason to 66 but who is this that asks ?"
congratulate himself on the devasta6 The ladder here!” cried the tion committed on his staircase. stranger.