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THE LONG JOURNEY ***




Produced by David Edwards, Les Galloway and the Online
Distributed Proofreading Team at http://www.pgdp.net (This
file was produced from images generously made available
by The Internet Archive)






By Elsie Singmaster


MARTIN LUTHER. THE STORY OF HIS LIFE. With frontispiece.
THE LONG JOURNEY. Frontispiece in color.
EMMELINE. Illustrated.
KATY GAUMER. Illustrated.
GETTYSBURG. Illustrated.
WHEN SARAH WENT TO SCHOOL. Illustrated.
WHEN SARAH SAVED THE DAY. Illustrated.

HOUGHTON MIFFLIN COMPANY BOSTON AND NEW YORK




[Illustration: CONRAD RUBBED HIS EYES - HE LOOKED AGAIN (p. 52)]




THE LONG
JOURNEY

BY
ELSIE SINGMASTER

[Illustration]

BOSTON AND NEW YORK
HOUGHTON MIFFLIN COMPANY
The Riverside Press Cambridge
1917




COPYRIGHT, 1917, BY ELSIE SINGMASTER LEWARS

ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

_Published February 1917_


TO
WILLIAM BLACK LEWARS
A DESCENDANT
OF
JOHN CONRAD WEISER
AND HIS SON
CONRAD




CONTENTS


I. THE GROSS ANSPACH COW 1

II. DOWN THE RIVER 21

III. BLACKHEATH 40

IV. A ROYAL AUDIENCE 60

V. ACROSS THE SEA 79

VI. THE PIRATE SHIP 96

VII. THE HOME ASSIGNED 111

VIII. THE FLIGHT BEGINS 131

IX. THE DARK FOREST 149

X. JOURNEY'S END 169




THE LONG JOURNEY




I

THE GROSS ANSPACH COW


On the evening of the twenty-third of June, Conrad Weiser brought
home, as was his custom, the Gross Anspach cow. The fact was, in
itself, not remarkable, since it was Conrad's chief duty to take the
cow to pasture, to guard her all day long, to lead her from one little
patch of green grass to another, to see that she drank from one of
the springs on the hillside, and to feed her now and then a little
of the precious salt which he carried in his pocket. What made this
twenty-third of June remarkable was the fact that this was Conrad's
final journey from the pastures of Gross Anspach to Gross Anspach
village.

Liesel, the property of Conrad's father, John Conrad, was Gross
Anspach's only cow. War and the occupation of a brutal soldiery had
stripped the village of its property, its household goods, its animals,
and, alas! of most of its young men. Gross Anspach had hidden itself in
woods and in holes in the ground, had lived like animals in dens. Upon
the mountainside wolves had devoured children.

What war had left undone, famine and pestilence and fearful cold
had completed. The fruit trees had died, the vines were now merely
stiffened and rattling stalks, and, though it was June, the earth was
bare in many places. There were no young vines to plant, there was no
seed to sow, there were no horses to break the soil with the plough.

Sometimes Conrad had company to the hillside pasture. He was thirteen
years old, a short, sturdy, blue-eyed boy, much older than his years,
as were most of the children in Gross Anspach. Above him in the family
were Catrina, who was married and had two little children of her own,
then Margareta, Magdalena, and Sabina, and below him were George
Frederick, Christopher, Barbara, and John Frederick. They all had blue
eyes and sturdy frames and they were all, except John Frederick, thin.
John Frederick was their darling and the only partaker in the family of
the bounty of Liesel. The fact that John Frederick had no mother seemed
more terrible than the lack of a mother for any of the other eight
children.

When Margareta and Magdalena and Sabina and George Frederick and
Christopher and Barbara and John Frederick accompanied Conrad to
the hillside, they all started soberly, the older girls knitting as
they walked, Christopher and Barbara trotting hand in hand, and John
Frederick riding upon Conrad's back. They had little to say - there was
little to be said. When the prospect broadened, when they were able to
look out over the walls of their own valley across the wide landscape,
then spirits were lightened and tongues were loosed. Then they could
see other valleys and other hills and the desolation of their own no
longer filled their tired eyes. The little children ran about, the
older ones, still working busily, sat and talked.

Their speech was German, the soft and beautiful German of the south.
Sometimes they spoke in whispers and with fearful glances of the
past and its terrors, and of the cruel French. Sometimes the older
girls whispered together of romantic dreams which could never come
true, of true lovers and a happy home for each. But most of all they
talked - amazing to relate - these little Germans of two hundred years
ago - of Indians!

About Indians it was Conrad who had the most to say. Conrad was the
oldest boy; though so much younger than Margareta and Magdalena, he
could read easily while they could not read at all. While Conrad
talked, their thoughts traveled out of their poor valley, down the
great river, through strange cities to a mighty ship upon which they
should sail and sail until they reached a Paradise. Sometimes Conrad
walked up and down before them, his hands clasped behind his back,
sometimes he lay on the ground with his hands under his head. He talked
and talked and let himself be questioned in the lordly manner which
lads assume with their sisters. He carried with him always, buttoned
inside his thin clothes, a little book which he knew by heart.

"Is it cold there?" asked Sabina wistfully. Sabina was the last to
recover from the fearful winter.

Conrad leafed his little book.

"I will read. 'The climate is everywhere subtle and penetrating. During
the winter' - here, Sabina, - 'during the winter the sun has great
strength.'"

"I do not know what 'subtle and penetrating' mean. Those great words
are beyond me."

"They mean that the climate is good," explained Conrad, who did not
know exactly either.

"Will we be hungry?" asked Sabina, still more wistfully.

Conrad could hardly turn the leaves fast enough. His eyes sparkled, his
cheeks glowed.

"Now listen, you foolish, frightened Sabina, listen! 'The country
produces all kinds of cereals, together with Indian corn of various
kinds. Peas, kitchen vegetables, pumpkins, melons, roots, hemp, flax,
hops, everything. Peaches and cherries' - Sabina, you have never
eaten peaches or cherries, but I have eaten one of each - 'peaches
and cherries grow like weeds.' Here we have nothing, nothing! Our
grandfather was a magistrate, but we are almost beggars. My father
talks to me as he does not talk to you, Margareta and Magdalena and
Sabina and - "

Margareta lifted her blue eyes from her knitting and tossed back her
yellow braids.

"It is not very long since I spanked you well, Conrad," said she.

At this all the children, even Conrad, smiled. Margareta made a little
motion as though she meant to rise and pursue her brother about the
high tableland, Conrad a little motion as though he dared her to a
chase. But the impulse passed, as all playful impulses passed in this
time of distress.

"My father talks to me because I am almost a man," went on Conrad. "He
says that if we have another winter like the one which is past we will
all die as our mother - " Conrad could not complete his sentence. The
children did not cry, their hearts only ceased for a moment to beat as
Conrad's speech faltered. "He says there will not be enough animals and
birds left after that time to establish a new stock. He says that even
if the winter is mild, Gross Anspach cannot all live - even we few that
are left."

"But I am afraid," said little Sabina.

"Afraid of what?"

"Of the river and the great sea."

"Thousands have sailed down the river and many have crossed the sea,
Sabina."

"I am most afraid of these strange red people."

"I am not afraid of them," announced little Christopher. "Not more than
I am afraid of Liesel."

Once more Conrad leafed his little book. It was no wonder that it
scarcely held together.

"They are not bad people. They fish and hunt and plant crops. They go
farther and farther back into the woods as the white people come. I am
no more afraid of them than I am of Christopher."

"But how are we to get there, brother?" asked Magdalena, who spoke
least among a family who spoke little.

Conrad shut his book and tied it in its place under his coat.

"That I do not know," said he impatiently. "But we will all see yet the
river and the great sea and the deep forests and the red people."

"Old Redebach says - " No sooner had John Frederick began to speak than
his lips were covered by the hand of his brother.

"Old Redebach cannot tell the truth. It is not in him. And he is afraid
of everything. Ten times he has told me that Liesel would be carried
off, that he has had a dream and has seen men watching her. Forty times
he has told me that Liesel would die of the cattle plague. There stands
Liesel fat and hearty. It is the schoolmaster who is to be believed in
this matter. He would start to-morrow if he could. I tell you" - Conrad
pointed toward the declining sun - "we are going, we are going, we are
going."

Now, on the twenty-third of June, as Conrad, alone, guided the
obstinate way of Liesel through the dusk, the words of old Redebach
came back to him. Liesel had all the trying defects of a spoiled
and important character; believing herself to be the Queen of Gross
Anspach, she expected her subjects to follow where she led. She
proceeded deliberately into all sorts of black and shadowy places from
which Conrad did not dare to chase her roughly for fear of affecting
the precious store of milk, upon which John Frederick and other Gross
Anspach babies depended.

Conrad recalled now, besides the warnings of old Redebach about present
dangers, certain fearful things which were printed in his little book.
The savages had learned from the whites to be deceitful, they were
frequently drunk, they would not be governed, they used their knives
and hatchets for hideous purposes. They were enormous creatures, who
increased their height by bunches of towering feathers fastened to
their topknots. They stole upon their victims with the quietness of
cats, they - was that a stealthy footstep which Conrad heard now to
the right of his path? - they celebrated their triumph with fearful
cries - what was that strange sound which he heard to his left?

In spite of himself, Conrad hastened the steps of the unruly Liesel
through the twilight.

The Weiser family lived in one of the few houses left in Gross Anspach.
It was not large, but to the villagers who had taken refuge after the
burning of their dwellings in stables and sheds, it seemed like a
palace. From its doorway shone now a faint light, at sight of which
Conrad felt ashamed of his fear. He heard the rattle of Margareta's
milk pail, and felt against his leg the warm, comfortable body of old
Wolf, the Weiser dog.

"You are late," called Margareta, in an excited tone. "I have been
watching and watching and the children have been more than once to the
bottom of the hill."

"What is the matter?" asked Conrad.

"You will hear in good time," answered Margareta in a patronizing way.

"Where is father?"

"In the house."

"If anything had happened he would tell me first," said Conrad. "I do
not believe he has told you anything."

Behind the broad table in the kitchen sat John Conrad. He was the
younger Conrad grown old and gray with anxiety and grief. His clothes
were whole, but mended with amazing invention. His body was still
powerful and the fire of energy flashed from his eyes. As Conrad
entered, he raised a clenched fist and brought it down heavily upon the
table, which, solid as it was, shook under the impact. A stranger might
have thought that he was reproving the little row of children who sat
opposite him on a bench and who watched him with a fixed stare. But
John Conrad was a kind father; his excitement did not find its source
in anger with his children. Nor were the children frightened. Their
stare was one of admiration and awe rather than of fright.

Seeing his father thus, Conrad asked no questions, though a dozen
trembled on his lips. He sat quietly down beside the other children
and lifted John Frederick to his lap.

When Margareta came in from milking, the family had their supper of
black bread and a little weak broth. It was enough to keep life in
their bodies, but not very vigorous life. The children scarcely tasted
what they ate, so excited were they by their father's appearance,
and by the long and solemn prayer with which he prefaced the meal.
Presently Elisabeth Albern came for milk for her Eva, Michael Fuhrmann
for milk for his Balthasar, and George Reimer, the schoolmaster, for
milk for his little sister Salome. For this milk John Conrad took no
pay. He was poor, but his neighbors were far poorer; he regarded Liesel
neither as the annoying creature which Conrad considered her, nor as
the proud princess that she believed herself to be, but as a sacred
trust. If it were not for Liesel half of the poor little Gross Anspach
babies would not survive the summer. Even John Frederick was beginning
to eat the black bread and broth so that younger and more needy babies
might have his share of Liesel's milk.

George Reimer spoke to John Conrad in a way which heightened the
children's excitement.

"I will be here," said he.

The children nudged one another. Their father was the leader in what
poor little affairs Gross Anspach might still be said to have, and he
sometimes assembled his neighbors so that they might encourage and
console one another.

Such a meeting was now at hand. The older girls washed the bowls and
wooden plates and the cooking-pot and put them on the shelf, and
carried a sleepy John Frederick and a protesting Barbara from the
kitchen and laid them firmly and tenderly in their corner of the family
bedroom. When Conrad nodded to little Christopher that he should
follow, the older Weiser bade Christopher stay.

"It is important that all my children who can should remember this
night."

Before long the village men and a few of the women began to assemble.
They came quietly, with only the simplest of greetings, but eye meeting
eye said wonderful things.

"John Conrad Weiser, you are our leader and friend."

"Neighbors, you have been my stay in deep affliction."

A woman with a baby in her arms bade John Conrad look and see how his
namesake was growing.

"If it were not for you he would be gone like his father."

Presently the children, giving up their places on the bench for places
on little stools or on the earthen floor, began to whisper to one
another and to point. From under the thin and ragged coat of George
Reimer, the schoolmaster, projected a flute. George's own flute had
been taken from him by the French soldiers, but in a few days a much
finer one had been found by the roadside, dropped, probably, because
the army could not carry all its own possessions in addition to those
which it had stolen. It might be said that Gross Anspach retained two
valuable articles, John Conrad Weiser's cow and George Reimer's flute.
Behind his father's back, Conrad pretended to play a tune upon the air.
At once the solemn assembly grew a little brighter. Last of all came
Catrina and her husband.

At once John Conrad rose to pray. They still had God, these souls who
had little else, and upon Him John Conrad called, that He might bless
them in _a great endeavor_. At this, in spite of his better knowledge,
Conrad opened his eyes and fixed them upon Margareta until she opened
hers. Conrad clasped his hands tightly, scarcely able to breathe.

"Friends," - John Conrad had closed his prayer, - "I have asked you to
come here so that I might tell you of an important matter. It is not
necessary that in beginning what I have to say I should remind you of
our miseries and our griefs. You know them as well as I. You know that
this life cannot go on; that, presently, unless we do something for
ourselves, there will be none of us remaining. Our country is desolate.
The soldiers have harried us, the great cold has tortured us, famine
has almost made an end of us. We should not too bitterly sigh and
complain on account of what has come upon us. It may be that thus God
seeks to lead us to another and a better land.

"I need not tell you, either, what land I have in mind. We have spoken
of it, we have seen it in our dreams, we have longed for it with all
our souls. There is fertile soil, there is temperate climate, there
is, above all, thank God! freedom and peace. There is no war there.
There - " John Conrad halted, tried again to speak and failed.

"But we cannot get to that country!" cried the young woman with the
baby in her arms.

There was a long pause. Deep breaths were drawn and a great sigh filled
the little room.

"The way has been opened," announced John Conrad at last. "I and my
family will go to-morrow. Let those who will come with us lift their
hands."

But no hands were lifted. The thought of deliverance was paralyzing.

"Word has come that the gracious Queen of England will send us and
our long-suffering brethren to her colonies in the New World. I have
had a letter from our old neighbor the magistrate of Oberdorf. He is
in London, awaiting the sailing of the ships. He is well cared for;
charitable persons exert themselves for the afflicted people. Probably
by this time he is already far on his way."

"But _to-morrow_, father!" cried Catrina. "Why start to-morrow?"

"As well to-morrow as another day," answered John Conrad. "We have few
possessions and they are easily gathered together. To those of our
friends who will not come with us we could not express our affection
and our farewells in a hundred days. We will go on foot to the river
and make our way to the lowlands and thence to England. It is a long
and perilous journey, but it is not so perilous as to stay. I cannot
advise any one what to do. But for all those who come I will care as
though they were my own."

"But Liesel!" cried the young woman with the baby in her arms. "We will
die without Liesel!"

John Conrad smiled.

"Liesel will stay in Gross Anspach. She will be the perpetual property
of the Gross Anspach babies."

George Reimer spoke next. He sat with his arms folded across his
breast, within them his precious flute. Tears were in his eyes and in
his voice as he said: -

"_I am poor and needy; yet the Lord thinketh upon me._"

The company broke up without music. There were those who must go home
to tell wives or mothers; there were those who wished to talk to John
Conrad in private. There was Catrina, with her husband, weeping and
distressed, who did not dare to trust her babies to the sea. She must
plan with her sisters the bundles which should be packed for each to
carry, the food which must be gathered to last as long as possible. To
her and her husband John Conrad forgave a large debt, and his kindness
and their inability to pay made the parting more heartbreaking. John
Conrad still had a little store of German gulden, long hoarded against
the coming day.

When all was done and the children were asleep, John Conrad took his
oldest son by the hand and led him up the winding street between the
ruined houses to the little Lutheran church which had been saved in
the great destruction. The moon shone quietly upon it and the little
walled-in space behind it. Thither John Conrad led his son, and beside
a new-made grave they paused.

"It is not good to dwell on grief when one lives in the world and has
still the work of half a lifetime," said he solemnly. "But there are
moments when it is right that we should yield ourselves to our sorrow.
The others will come here in the morning, but you and I will then have
no time for shedding tears. Your mother looked into the future. She
begged me to go when the time came, even though I must leave her here."

"My lad," - John Conrad laid his arm across the boy's shoulders, - "there
are many things I would say to you. You were, as you know, her darling.
But she knew your faults, that you are strong-headed and strong-willed.
As you are of all my children the quickest to learn, so are you the
least obedient and steady, the most impatient and impetuous. Your
mother prayed for you daily. Will you remember her counsels, lad?"

To the yearning voice Conrad could make no answer. Arm in arm father
and son stood for a long time. Then, when the moon had sunk behind the
little church, Conrad felt himself led away.

"Now, my son," admonished John Conrad, "weep no more, but set your face
forward."




II

DOWN THE RIVER


The night of the twenty-third of June is a short night at best. When
one robs its beginning of four or five hours, there is little darkness
left. Bidding his son go to bed, John Conrad spent the night in
vigil. In spite of his reminder that this was not a time for grief,
he went again to the little church. From thence he climbed through
the ruined vineyards to the pastures on the hill where his father and
his grandfather had pastured their sheep and cattle. There he stood
long and looked about him, his mind traveling back to the happiness of
their peaceful lives, spent in sturdy labor and sweetened by the honor
which they had had among their fellows. Here were the roots of his own
life, deep in the soil - would God that he could stay where he had been
born! He was no longer young, responsibility and adversity had made him
old. Those rosy stories of the new land - might they not be as other
travelers' tales, concealing a reality worse than this fearful present
of hunger and fear? Five hundred miles of river, three thousand miles
of sea, and then an unsettled country! The same shapes of fear which
had fascinated and disturbed young Conrad seemed now to await his
father behind every tree and bush.

Suddenly John Conrad heard a soft sound on the summer wind. George
Reimer, as restless as himself, was somewhere about with his dear
flute. John Conrad bent his ear to the direction from which the sound
came. It was a German hymn, "A Mighty Stronghold is Our God." John
Conrad lifted his head and with it his heart. George Reimer would be
with them and George Reimer's flute. Returning to his house, John
Conrad lay down for a little sleep before dawn.

But George Reimer did not go to the new country. Upon the indescribable
confusion of the Weiser house the next morning, he came smiling.

Into sheets and coverlets the Weisers had tied all their movable
possessions, the various articles making curious knobs and projections
on the great bundles. The family spinning-wheel must go - surely no
article was more necessary! This Conrad was to carry on his back. The
few cooking-pots which remained - these must be taken, though all else
were left behind. Wardrobes were small, sheets were few, pillows did
not exist. The feather beds could not be carried - these were given to
the neighbors.

About hovered all Gross Anspach. Each person had brought a little
gift, a tiny trinket saved from the pillaging of the hamlet, a little
bouquet of the few garden flowers which had survived the cruel winter,
a loaf of bread or a package of dried beans for soup. Catrina, a baby
on each arm, wept loudly. Each baby had to be embraced many times by
its departing relatives and each departing relative had to be embraced
by all the village. Under foot, six tiny kittens risked their lives.
Old Redebach, tottering feebly about, quoted warning passages of
Scripture: -

"_As a bird that wandereth from her nest, so is a man that wandereth
from his place._"

On the doorstep sat Wolf, his solemn eyes watching the scene in
amazement. Everywhere was confusion, everywhere was noise.

For a few moments George Reimer watched quietly.

"Neighbors!" cried he. "If you cannot help these friends, stand back!
Here, Conrad, I will tie that bundle. Here, John Frederick, I am to
be your horse as far as the river; see that you behave, or I will run
away. Sabina, I will keep your kittens if I have to catch the mice for
them myself."

With one accord the Weisers turned upon him.

"You are going with us, surely!"

"Only to the river." His eyes sought those of John Conrad. "I cannot
go farther. My little sisters are too young, my father too feeble, my
mother is sick - I can neither take them nor leave them alone."

"God will reward you," said John Conrad. "But it is a sore loss to us."

In the end no one went beyond the river. From weeping Gross Anspach the
Weisers and a dozen accompanying friends separated themselves at seven


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