Page images




peace; he was approaching his fortieth year,

and was considered the best physician in We were living in profound peace in the the country. I have known since that time village of Anstatt, in the midst of the Ger- that he took pleasure in forming theories man Vosges, my uncle, Dr. Jacob Wag- of universal fraternity, and that the parcels ner, his old servant Lisbeth, and myself. Af- of books occasionally brought to him by ter the death of his sister Christine, Uncle the carrier, Fritz, related to that important Jacob had taken me to live with him. I subject. was nearly ten years old. I was rosy, fair, All this I see, without forgetting our and fresh as a cherub. I wore a cotton Lisbeth, a good old woman, smiling and cap, a little brown velvet jacket made out wrinkled, in a short jacket and a petticoat of an old pair of my uncle's small-clothes, of blue cloth, who sits spinning in one cortrousers of grey cloth, and woollen shoes ner; or the cat Roller, who dreams as she ornamented on the top with a tust of wool. sits on her tail behind the stove, her great In the village I was called Little Fritzel; yellow eyes open in the shade like an owl's. and every evening, when he returned from It seems as if I only have to pass through his round of visits, Uncle Jacob took me the entry to slip into the fruit room with its on his knee and taught me to read French good smell, that I have only to climb the in Monsieur de Buffon's Natural History. wooden stairs out of the kitchen to find

It seems to me as if I were still in our low myself in my own room, where I let loose room, its ceiling barred with smoky beams. the titmice that little Hans Aden, the son of I see, on the left, the little door leading to the shoemaker, and I had caught with birdthe passage-way, and the oaken wardrobe; lime. Some of these were green and some on the right, the alcove shut off by a cur- were blue. Little Eliza Meyer, the daughtain of green serge; in the back part of ter of the burgomaster, often came to see the room, the entrance to the kitchen near them and to ask me for some of them; and the cast-iron stove, with its large mould- when Hans Aden, Ludwig, Franz Sepel, ings representing the twelve months of the Karl Stenger, and I drove our cows and year, – the Stag, the Fishes, Capricorn, goats to pasture together, she always took Aquarius, &c., — and on the side toward hold of my jacket and said, “ Fritzel, let me the street, the two little windows, which drive your cow; don't send me off.” And looked out through vine leaves upon the I gave her my whip. We were going to square of the fountain.

make a fire on the turf and roast potatoes I see Uncle Jacob too; slender, with a in the cinders. high forehead crowned by beautiful light Oh, happy days! Ilow calm and peacehair which gracefully outlines his broad ful everything was around us! How regutemples ; his slightly aquiline nose, his blue larly · everything went on! - never the eyes, his rounded chin, and his tender and least disturbance. Monday, Tuesday, good mouth. He wears small-clothes of Wednesday, all the days of the week, folblack satinet, a sky-blue coat with brass lowed each other exactly alike. buttons, and soft boots with bright yellow Every day we got up at the same hour, tops and silk tassels in front. Seated in dressed ourselves, and sat down to the good his leather arm-chair, his arms upon the meat soup prepared by Lisbeth. My untable, he reads, and the sun makes the cle set off on horseback, and I made traps shadow of the vine leaves tremble over his and snares for thrushes, sparrows, or linface, which is somewhat long, and tanned nets, according to the season. by the open air.

At noon we returned home; we ate baHe was a man of sentiment, a lover of con cooked with cabbage and dumplings.


Then I went to the pasture to see about my think I still see him, with his rat-like look, snares, or to bathe in the Queich when and his nose in the air, throwing out great the weather was warm.

whiffs in front of the glowing hearth, then In the evening I had a good appetite, coming to seat himself in the shadow at the and so had my uncle and Lisbeth too; and corner of the stove with his legs crossed. at table we thanked the Lord for his favors. Beside the moles and the bees, the honey

Every day, toward the end of supper, and the wax, he had another grave occuwhen the twilight began to spread through pation: he foretold the future by means of the rooin, a heavy step came along the al- the flight of birds, the abundance of grassley, the door was opened, and upon the hoppers and caterpillars, and certain trathreshold appeared a stocky, square-built, ditions inscribed in a book with wooden broad-shouldered man, wearing a large felt covers which he had inherited from an old hat, wbo said :

aunt from Fleming. Good-evening, doctor!”

But to unfold the chapter of his predic“Sit down, mole-catcher,” replied my tions he needed the presence of his friend uncle. Lisbeth, open the kitchen door.” Koffel, the carpenter, the turner, the clock

Lisbeth pushed back the door, and the maker, the dog-clipper, the cattle-doctor, red flame dancing upon the hearth showed in short, the greatest genius of Anstatt and us the mole-catcher in front of our table its neighbourhood. examining with his little grey eyes what Koffel did everything: he mended cracked we were eating. He had the very look of vessels with iron wire, he soldered saucea field-rat, with his long nose, his small pans, he repaired old furniture, he put the mouth, a retreating chin, pointed ears, and organ into good condition when the stops four long hairs of yellow tufted moustache. or the bellows were out of order. Uncle His old coat of grey cloth scarcely reached Jacob had even to forbid him to meddle below his back, his large red waistcoat with broken legs and arms, for he thought with deep pockets hung loosely over his himself possessed of some talent for surthighs, and his enormous shoes, all yellow gery also. The mole-catcher admired him with soil, had great shining nails, like claws, greatly, and sometimes said, on the vamps quite to the tops of the thick “What a pity Koffel has not studied ! soles.

what a pity! And all the gossips of the The mole-catcher was perhaps fifty years country regarded him as a universal genius. old; bis hair was growing grey, deep But all this did not make his pot boil, and wrinkles furrowed his reddish forehead, and the most certain of his resources was cutwhite eyebrows with a mingling of yellow ting cabbage for sour-crout in the autumn, fell over even the balls of his eyes.

with his pannier over his shoulders, crying He might be seen constantly in the fields from door to door, “ Any cabbage to cut ? engaged in setting his traps, or at the gate any cabbage to cut ?” See how great talof his bee-garden amid the heather, half ents are rewarded in this world! Koffel, way up the Birkenwald, with his mask of small, thin, with black hair and beard, 3 iron wire, his large cloth mufflers, and his sharp nose going straight to a point like great sharp spoon for taking the honey the beak of a widgeon, did not fail to apfrom the hives. At the end of autumn he pear, his hands in the pockets of his little left the village for a month with his wallet round vest, his cotton cap on his neck, the hung across his shoulders; on one side a point hanging Letween his shoulders, his great pot of honey and on the other cakes small-clothes and his coarse blue stockings of yellow wax, which he sold to the priests spotted with glue slipping down over his in the neighbourhood to make wax candles. | legs, which were as thin as wire, and his Such was the mole-catcher. After having old shoes cut in many places to make room thoroughly looked at the table, he said, for his bunions. He came in a few mo

“ There, that is cheese! There,' those ments after the mole-catcher; and coming are nuts!”

forward with short steps, he said, “Yes,” replied my uncle; “at your ser- “I wish you a good appetite, doctor.". vice."

“Does your heart tell you of it?" replied Thank you. I had rather smoke a my uncle. pipe now.”

Many thanks; we have had salad this Then he drew from his pocket a black pipe evening; that is what I like best.". ornamented with a copper cover with a lit- After these words Koffel seated himself tle chain. Ile carefully filled it, looking behind the stove, and did not stir till my round all the time, and then went into the uncle said, kitchen, took up a coal in the hollow of his Come, Lisbeth, light the candle and callous hand, and laid it on the tobacco. Il take off the cloth."



i Allow me.


Then my uncle in his turn filled his pipe ton cap, sitting in the arm-chair, my uncle's and drew up to the stove. They began to accustomed seat! He seemed to be retalk of the rain, of the fine weather, of the har- flecting profoundly, but was really intent vest, etc. The mole-catcher had had so many on remembering the news, that he might traps in the course of the day, he had turned tell it to his wife, the virtuous Barbara, who the water from such a meadow during the governed the cominune in his name. storm, or he had just taken so much honey And the great Karolus too, a sort of from his hives; his bees were going to swarm greyhound in a hunting coat and a cap of

polished leather! The greatest usurer in the Koffel was always turning over in his country, who looked down upon the peasmind some invention. He talked about his ants from the height of his grandeur because clock without weights, from which the his grandfather had been a lackey of Salmtwelve apostles were to appear exactly at Salm, who thought he did you a favour by noonday, while a cock should crow and smoking your tobacco, and who talked perDeath should flourish his scythe; or, per- petually of parks, of pheasantries, of great haps, of his plough which was to work of hunts, and of the rights and privileges of itself by being wound up like a clock, or of Monseigneur de Salm-Salm. How many some other wonderful contrivance.

times I have since seen him, as in a dream, My uncle listened gravely, gave an ap- walking to and fro in our low room, listenproving nod, while he thought about his på- ing, knitting his brows, and then suddenly tients.

plunging into the great pockets of my unIn summer time the neighbours, seated cle's coat to get the packet of tobacco, fillupon the stone bench in front of our open ing his pipe and lighting it at the candle, windows, talked with Lisbeth about their saying, household concerns; one had spun so many Poor Uncle Jacob! how good-natured he yards of cloth in the course of the last win- was to let him smoke his tobacco! but he ter; the hens of another had laid so many did not even notice it, he was so taken up eggs in one day.

with reading the news of the day. The As for me, I made use of a lucky min- Republicans had invaded the Palatinate, ute to run to Klipfel's forge, from which the had descended the Rhine, and had dared to light shone in the night far off to the end of confront the three Electors, King William the village.

of Prussia, and the Emperor Joseph. Hans Aden, Franz Sepel, and several oth- All present were astonished at their auers, were already there. We watched the dacity. Monsieur Richter said that this sparks shooting out like lightning from the could not last long, and that all these strokes of the hammer. We whistled at the wretched beggars would be exterminated, sound of the anvil. If a poor old horse even to the very

last. were there to be shod, we helped to lift up My uncle always concluded his reading his leg. The oldest among us undertook to by some judicious remark, and as he folded smoke some nut leaves, which turned their up the Gazette he said :- • Let us thank stomachs. Some of the others boasted of the Lord that we live in the midst of the going already every Sunday to the dances; woods, rather than among the vineyards, on these were from fifteen to sixteen years old. the bare mountains, rather than in the fruitful They set their caps on one side, put their plain. These Republicans cannot hope to hands in their pockets, and smoked with an get anything here, and that is our security ; air of importance.

we may sleep in peace upon both ears. At last, at ten o'clock, the whole party But how many others are exposed to their broke up, and every one went home. rapine! These people want to do every

Thus passed the ordinary days of the thing by force; now force never does any week; but Mondays and Fridays my uncle good. They talk of love, of equality, of received the Frankfort Gazette, and on liberty, but they do not apply these princithose days our company was more numer- ples; they trust to their arms, and not to

Beside the mole-catcher, and Koffel, the justice of their cause. Before them, a our burgomaster, Christian Meyer, and very long time ago, there were others who Monsieur Karolus Richter, the grandson of came to deliver the world; they did not an old valet of Count Salm-Salm, came. strike, they did not slay, they perished by Neither of them wished to subscribe for the thousands, and were represented in after Gazette, but they liked to hear it read for ages by the lamb that the wolves devoured. 'nothing.

It might have been thought that of these How many times since I have remem- men no remembrance would remain. Well! bered our fåt burgomaster with his scarlet they have conquered the world; they have ears, short woolen gown, and his white cot- not conquered the flesh, but they have con


quered the soul of the human race; and he. Since these Republicans have banthe soul, - that is everything! Why do ished their lords and their priests, it must not these people follow their example ?"" have been so written in heaven from the

Then Karolus Richter exclaimed with a beginning of time. God decreed it; now scornful air : -“Why? Because they make to know whether they shall return, - that a mockery of souls, and because they envy depends upon what the Lord God may dethe powerful of the earth. And in the first cree. If he wills to bring the dead back to place, all these Republicans are atheists, life, that depends upon him. But last year, from the first to the last; they respect as I watched my bees work, I saw that neither the throne nor the altar; they have these little creatures, gentle and pretty as overthrown things which bave been estab- they are, all at once fell upon the drones lished from the beginning of time;. they and stung them and dragged them out of the will have no more nobles, as if the nobility hive. This happens every year. These were not the essence of things upon earth drones breed the young, and the bees proand in heaven; as if it were not certain vide for them as long as the hive needs that among men some are born for slavery them; but afterwards they kill them. This and others for domination; as if we did not is a shocking thing, but yet it is written. see this order established even in nature: Now upon seeing this I thought of these the inoss is lower than the grass, the grass Republicans: they are engaged in killing lower than the shrubs, the shrubs than the their drones; but be easy; they can never trees, and the trees than the celestial vault. get on without them. Others will come So the peasants are lower than the citizens, back, they will have to take care of them the citizens than the nobles of the long robe, and feed them, and then the bees will get the nobles of the long robe than the nobles angry again and will kill them by hundreds. of the sword, the nobles of the sword than They may think it is all finished, but others the king, and the king than the pope, rep- will come, and so on. It must be so! it resented by his cardinals, bis archbishops, must be so !” and his bishops. This is the natural order The mole-catcher then shook his head, of things.

and Monsieur Karolus, stopping in the They may try forever, but a thistle can middle of the room, exclaimed, Who is it

raise itself to the height of an oak, you call drones? The real drones are those and a peasant can never hold a sword like proud grubs who think themselves capable a descendant of the illustrious race of war- of everything, and not the nobles and the riors.

priests. “ These Republicans have obtained some Begging your pardon, Monsieur Richephemeral success on account of the sur-ter," said the mole-catcher, “the drones prise they have caused to the world by their are those who insist on doing nothing and truly incredible boldness and their want of enjoying everything; those who do nothing common

By denying all estab- but buzz about the queen and still insist lished doctrines and principles, they have upon being handsomely provided for. They struck reasonable people with stupefaction. are provided for. But, in fine, it is written That is the only cause of all this confusion. that they shall be cast out. This has hapJust as we may sometimes see an ox, or pened a thousand and a thousand times, and even a bull, stop at once and then run away it will never fail to happen. The workingat sight of a rat which comes suddenly out bees, who are all order and economy, canof the ground before him, so we see our not be feeding creatures who are good for soldiers astounded and even routed by sim- nothing. This is unfortunate, it is sad, — ilar audacity. But all this cannot last long; but it is so; when one makes the honey, and the first surprise past, I am very sure one likes to keep it for himself.” that our old generals of the seven years' “You are a Jacobine,” exclaimed Karowar will knock this rabble of barefoots fat lus, indignantly. over, so that not a single one of them No, on the contrary, I am a citizen of will ever get back to his unhappy country Austtall, mole-catcher and bee-keeper. I again."

love my country as much as you do. I Having thus spoken, Monsieur Karolus would sacrifice myself for it perhaps sooner re-lighted his pipe and continued to walk than you would. But I am really obliged back and forth with his hands behind him, to say that the true drones are those who and an air of great satisfaction.

do nothing, and that the bees are those who All the others retlected upon what they work, for I have seen it a hundred times.". had just heard, and after some time the “ Ah!” exclaimed Karolus Richter, “I mole-catrher took up the word in his turn. bet that Kotfel has the same ideas as

* All that must happen, happens," said you."




Then the little carpenter, who had said nothing, answered, winking his eye,

“Monsieur Karolus, if I had the happi- ONE Friday evening in the month of ness of being the grandson of a domestic November, 1793, Lisbeth after supper was of Yeri Peter or of Salm-Salm, and if I kneading the dough for the household had inherited great wealth from him which bread, according to custom. As some cake would maintain me in abundance and idle- and an apple pie would follow from this, I ness, then I should say that the drones were kept near her in the kitchen and watched the workers and the bees were the lazy her, giving myself up to the most agreeable ones. But being such as I am, I need all reflections. The dough being made, the the world to help me get along, and I say yeast was put in, and the trough scraped nothing. I am silent. Only I think every- all round, and then a large feather covering body ought to get what he deserves by his was stretched over it, and it was left to rise. labours."

Afterward Lisbeth spread some coals from “My dear friends," then said my uncle, the hearth on the inside of the oven and gravely, “ let us not talk any more about pushed into the back part of it with the pothese things, for we never could understand ker three large dry fagots, which began to each other. Peace! peace! that is what flame up under the dark arch. At last, the we need. It is peace which makes men fire well lighted, she put the iron plate beprosper, and puts all beings into their fore the mouth of the oven, and said to proper places. Through war we see bad me, instincts prevail, murder, rapine, and the Now, Fritzel, let us go to bed ; torest. So all men who lead bad lives like morrow when you get up there will be a war; it is the only means for them to ap- pie.” pear to be something. In time of peace Then we went up to our chambers. Unthey would be nothing; we can easily cle Jacob had been snoring in his alcove see that their thoughts, their inventions, for an hour. I went to bed dreaming of and their desires are in accordance with good things, and was soon sleeping the their low characters. Man was created by sleep of the blest. God for peace, for labour, and to love his This lasted for some time, but it was still family and his fellow-creatures. Now, since night, and the moon was shining on my war goes against all that, it is nothing but little window, when I was waked by a a scourge. Here now! ten o'clock is strik- strange tumult. One would have said that ing; we might dispute till to-morrow and the whole village was out of doors ; doors not understand each other. So I propose opened and shut at a distance, a multitude that we should go to bed."

of steps plashed through the muddy pools Every one rose, and the burgomaster, in the street. At the same time I heard resting his fists upon the arms of his chair people coming and going in our house, and exclaimed, “ Heaven grant that neither a red light was reflected on my windows. Republicans nor Prussians nor Imperialists Imagine my fright! After having lismay pass through here, for all those people tened, I got up softly and opened a window. are hungry and thirsty. And as it is pleas- The whole street was full of people, and anter to drink one's wine oneself than to see not only the streets, but also the little it swallowed by others, I like much better gardens and the neighbouring lanes, to learn these things from the Gazette than nothing but great lively fellows with imto enjoy them through my own eyes. That mense cocked hats and long blue coats is what I think.”

faced with red, broad white shoulder-belts, After that reflection he took his way to and long queues banging down the back, the door, and the others followed bim. to say nothing of their sabres and their car

Good-night,” cried my uncle. Good- tridge-boxes, which swung below their hips, evening,” replied the mole-catcher, going and which I saw for the first time. They off into the dark street.

had stacked their guns in front of our barn. The door was shut, and my uncle, deep Two sentinels were marching round; the in thought, said to me, “ Fritzel, try to others went in and out of the house as if sleep well.”

they were at home. And

you the same, uncle," I replied to At one corner of the stable three horses him.

pawed the ground. Farther off, in front Lisbeth and I then went up stairs. A of Sepel the butcher's shop, on the opposite quarter of an hour afterward, the most pro- side of the square, on the hooks where found silence reigned in the house. calves were skinned, now hung a whole ox,

« PreviousContinue »