Cornelia McFadden.

The seamstress of Stettin online

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from the shops ; if one only looks over the sam-
ples, and buys a trifle here and there, it lends a
little excitement."


Her poor head was like an empty nut, in
which a restless worm gnaws and writhes. Here
was an immortal soul in the midst of its un-
satiated longings. Seed-time was passed, but no
harvest had been garnered ; and now the winter
of old age was at hand with its thirst and famine.

The general had entered Asia's boudoir,
where she reclined upon a luxurious lounge in a
state of nervous restlessness. Her fine handker-
chief was wrinkled in her fingers, her cheeks
pale, her eyelids red, and the pretty lips com-
pressed with an expression of the bitterest woe.

"Now, Asta, what is the matter? Aunt
Mylitta complains about you, and I really be-

She looked up from her large eyes with an
effort to maintain an appearance of child-like
trust; but her head dropped upon the arm of
the sofa, and she burst into violent sobbing.
With this movement a newspaper fell from her
side, which her father picked up. His glance
rested upon a paragraph wet with tears in fact,
thoroughly drenched by them and as ,he read
the following affecting lines, his forehead wrinkled
in serious condemnation: "Our wounded are in
a most appalling condition. Having been more
than twenty- four hours without attention, they
die from loss of blood, or are murdered and
robbed by the hyenas of the battle-field. Swarms


of vultures are there, ready to begin their loath-
some work. In vain the parched lips cry for a
drop of water ; and when one reflects upon the
vast sums of money appropriated for the sanitary
department of the army, what sacrifices our citi-
zens are making in its contribution, one must ar-
rive at the conviction . . . We regret to
announce that among the list of the severely
wounded is the well-known name of Captain
Elmbach, of the king's Grenadier Regiment. We
have also learned that his father, the eminent
councilor, has set out for the seat of war."

"It is a lie, an infamous lie!" thundered the
general, throwing down the paper, impatiently.
"How can an intelligent person "

But his outburst was restrained by Asta, who
wrung her hands, violently screaming: "O, his
handsome eyes, his beautiful eyes, to be plucked
by the dreadful crows ! Have pity on me,

The general stepped back in astonishment.
"Whom do you mean, Asta?"

"Father, I shall die with him; his life and
mine are one. I love him, father. Ever since
he saved me from death I have been his ! O,
that the lake had kept us both ! Then we never
should have been separated!"

"Ah! so! is that it? Incredible! That
you should so far forget yourself you me !


Have you not called yourself my lion-daughter,
who shared all my antipathies?"

But she did not heed him.

"His unbound wounds," she continued, in
agonizing tones; "his parched lips; and I am
here, and would nurse and " She sprang up
with an unnatural gleam in her eyes: "I must
go to him, and if he be dead I will protect his
splendid form against those monsters!"

The general crossed over to the opposite side
of the room, and rang the bell sharply. Then
turned, and took the hysterical girl in his arms
Strong father-arms they were! Fortunate, in-
deed, she who finds them a safeguard and refuge
when life's storms rage over her head !

"She is no longer, now, a child," he thought,
"trembling and swaying beneath the power of
love and pain, as a reed in the rushing flood."
He soothed her. "Only be calm and reason-
able, my child. This news is highly colored by
party hate regardless enough that it would be
read by relatives of the wounded, for the most
part in the city." *

Frederick answered the bell.

' ' Linnie must come, " commanded the general.
"Search for her over the entire city, and bring
her s here. If Elmbach is really wounded," he
said firmly "and the latest news from the losses
at Gitschin have not yet been received he can


be brought home; and as to the love" clearing
his throat "that is imaginary; the romance of
your adventure has bewitched you. He was not
so attractive to you before that event."

" My life for his !" she pursued hoarsely.

"It is not very pleasant to manage a grown-
up daughter," thought the father; but he replied
with kindly consideration: "I pity any woman
who does not know how to submit to the provi-
dences of Almighty God. On strong natures he
lays strong suffering. You are no feeble one, Asta.
Be discreet, and conquer this nervous hysteria."

He was interrupted by the chatter of one of
the shoemaker's children, whose wife was now

"We can see no one," he said peremptorily.

"She has just received a letter from her hus-
band," ventured the maid. "She says it is from

"Then let her enter." He was only too glad
to give Asta's thoughts a new direction, and
therefore almost shoved Frau Schultz forcibly
into her presence.

She was tall, thin, and wasted from years of
privation, mother-care, and work. She wore an
old black camelot dress, and a blue figured calico
apron. Her face had grown wrinkled before its
time ; but now it sparkled with sunshine from
the joy that streamed therefrom.


"I must carry it to her ladyship myself," she
exclaimed, producing it from a coarse yellow
paper cover.

Asta tried to read it, but the letters swam
before her eyes. The general took it from her.
"Sit down," he said to the woman, as Asta
again withdrew to the corner of the soa.

Frau Scliultz timidly accepted the invita-
tion by seating herself upon the chair's ex-
treme edge.

Holding the letter at arm's-length for he was
without his eye-glasses he read with sonorous
voice, and, toward the end of it, with ever in-
creasing emotion:

"GiTSCHiN, July 30, 1866.

" DEAREST WIFE, I must tell you that I am a cor-
poral. It was on account of a great day, as you shall
hear. Our captain ['Ho, ho! Asta, you see what kind of
news you had ; for mark well this was the day after Git-
schin '] was beside me "

Springing up, Asta's expression of deepest
solicitude changed to one of sweetest joy, and
she listened now with head forward, and pale
lips half-parted.

" was just beside me," repeated the reader, "and told
me that now I was an officer. Ah ! my dearest wife, what
is that to a man ? something dreadful ! I write on a box,
and I can not rest upon it lest the coffee-pot fall over ; and
that would be bad. Also, we have whipped the Austrians,
and on that account every bone in my body aches.
'Schultz,' said my captain, laying his hand on my shoul-



der, ' you have been very useful to me, and acted like a
hero. The colonel has made you a corporal, and you are
sure of a military title.' Tell Carl and Gustave and little
Fritz that I am an officer. Ah! dearest wife, what is that
to a man ? Our captain did it all alone, and the cloak I
took from him was in rags. Yes ; it cost much blood, and
many tears will be shed in Stettin ; for nearly all our
officers are dead or wounded, only our captain and Cap-
tain Von Drambow of the Eighth are perfectly sound. The
latter was very brave ; but as he was not the senior officer
he did not have command. Our captain was always to
the front, and you do not know what that is to a man !
We marched through the fir-forest where it was beautiful
and still, at vesper time ; and I thought of you all. Then
suddenly our way was along mountains everywhere, so
steep it seemed the world must go under. ' Schultz,' I
said to myself, 'never mind that now; only do your duty
and God will provide.' I only knew then that we were in
a deep forest, and that our captain was frantically hurry-
ing us forward, lest we should n't get through first. He
kept shouting : ' Let no one be behind ;' and he was like
a storm here, there, and everywhere. Yes, he is very
frightful, that ' s the kind of a man he is ! His eyes
snapped like coals of fire, and blood ran down his
face from being scratched on the trees, and the branches
also tore great holes in our uniforms.

" Since that time we have fought our way out of the for-
est and passed through a village named Unterlochow ; then
on the heights, where our major was shot from his horse.
The shots flew thick and fast, and we were almost scattered
through fright, but Captain Elmbach brought us together,
while the balls snapped against him as though he were
bronze. Then we drove back a regiment of Hungarian
hussars ; then a battalion of infantry ; and when we could
fight no longer, the captain brought us to a place of cover,
in order to regain our senses. Every one says he will be


a major, and receive high orders. I and he were always
together ; we both did it, and before I would have left
him, they would have been obliged to tear me in pieces.
That is what a true soldier ought to be. Now when he
goes by, all the men shout, ' Hurrah !' "

The general ceased, and looked at Asta. She
had never seemed so beautiful to him. She ap-
peared as if baptized in love's electric splendor.
The deep-blue eyes glowed with beaming de-
light, softened by tears that were with effort
restrained, and the gentle undulations of her
delicate white dress betrayed a throbbing heart.
If this affection rested upon her imagination,
that mental trait of character must be excep-
tionally strong.

This reflection was not altogether agreeable
to the father; but the crude recital of the great
battle almost carried him away. Struggle as he
would against admiring Elmbach as a lover, he
could not fail to recognize his superiority as a
soldier. "A brave man, this Elmbach," he said,
dryly, as if speaking to himself; "but the letter
is not yet ended ; let us see what it says further. "
He resumed :

"The city of Gitschin was taken that night, and we
are now here resting. I shall tell you of the battle when
we meet. It was dreadful enough, and the city is riddled
with shot and shell, while the churches are rilled with the
wounded. I pity the poor fellows Austrians as well as
Prussians. Now, if they were French, we could have no


sucli feelings ; for they are sworn enemies. I do not like
war, although generally the Pomeranians do.

"There is nothing wanting to our wounded ; but it is
sad to see so much suffering. I must tell you about Al-
fred Winter. He is the same old fellow for fun and pleas-
ure. We walked around the city this morning very early,
as he said he was not able to sleep, he felt so much like a
conqueror. After standing at a corner for some time, he
whispered, 'I hear a cackling.' 'You only imagine that,'
I replied; 'and even if you did, it is nothing to us.' 'I
should like to have a chicken,' he continued ; ' what am I
in the city of Gitschin for, if not to have a chicken ?'
Then he went behind a large house, opened the stable-
door, and not a living soul was to be seen ; but, sure
enough, there was the cackling again. Finally we found
the hen-coop, and the chickens began to fly over our
heads. 'Here you are, just ready for roasting,' he cries,
seizing as many as he could. As we came out of the
place, to our astonishment a young girl was sitting on tlie
stable door-sill, crying as if her heart would break. ' O,
Mister Great War Man, spare my life!' What do you
think the wicked Winter did ? He looks up to me, and
says : ' I should like to spare you, but this fellow with me is
a terrible cannibal, and spikes people on the point of his
bayonet.' Then he began to sharpen his bayonet, when I
spoke kindly to the girl, and quieted her. She had been
a bonne; but the family had fled the city, leaving her be-
hind. While I was telling her of you and the children,
Winter was preparing the chickens to carry them back
with us. We took the girl under our care, and found a
seat in a wagon which was going toward her home. Win-
ter made himself so agreeable, that if they had been
longer together I think they would have been betrothed.
She was a pretty little girl, with rosy cheeks and black
eyes. But, dearest wife, this war is a great affair. Who
ever would have thought I should be a corporal ? The


Lord God is with us, and we learn to pray to him far

better here in our distress than at home.

"But I must now close, with love to every one.


" 1st Army, 2d Army Corps, 3d Division, 5th Infantry Bri-
gade, 2d Battalion, Co. 5."

"Well, I call that a letter," said the general,
heartily; "but what we have learned must be at
once shared with our little Frau Von Drambow.
She is in a thousand anxieties again."

He was interrupted by the sound of the door-
bell, and soon the little woman referred to was
before them, rosy with excitement, holding out
an opened telegram.

"My husband lives!" she exclaimed, throw-
ing her arms around Asta's neck, and crying
for joy. Frau Schultz's flood-gates were also
opened through sympathy. "Ah!" she cried,
seizing the corner of her apron.
. Over Asta's deeply agitated face also flowed
waves. "Well," said the general, "this is no
place for me, with three weeping women ;"
turning to the visitor : "I beg your pardon, mad-
ame, but this is more than I can endure. Asta,
my child, do not forget that your excitement is
the result of illness. I trust it shall not occur
again;" and quickly as his disabled leg could
carry him he withdrew.

Not long after, Frau Schultz was on her way
home, holding firmly in a concealed pocket sub-


stantial proofs of appreciation from the young
women for the welcome war news.

But Asta found it very sweet and comforting
to share her heart's secret with her dearest friend.
As a song in light minor tones, their voices
were heard in the room. ' Both felt that the
battle of Gitschin would not be the final one,
and that results might be very different in the
future. As yet the structure of their happiness
was perfect. Flowers still entwined its light col-
umns ; love-thoughts fluttered around them, and
from every blossom they sipped honey. But Asta
could not, in her serious moments, defend her-
self from the thought that in its foundation her
happiness was only an air- castle, or a house of
cards which a breath or a touch would shatter
to pieces ; and yet she had grounded upon it her
future weal or woe.

"If we could only see them once more!" said
the little wife, finally, with a sigh.

At this juncture Frederick entered with the
message that the seamstress could not come, as she
had been ill with fever for several days. Asta's
thoughts leaped at a bound from the Bohemian
forests back to Stettin. There was something
of her former vigor in every movement, as she
hurried with her friend to seek father and aunt.
They were both in the dining-room, where coffee
was being served.


"Linnie is sick, and I must go to her at once;
I fear no one has looked after my poor, good
Linnie," she lamented.

"And shall that be your first outing?" said
Fraulein Mylitta, derisively. "You will meet
with serious harm if you are so foolish, Asta."

"Did she consider her own well-being when
she gave up everything to care for us?" retorted
Asta, impatiently.

"I have never wished you to preside over
even a duchess," remonstrated the aunt, warmly;
"and when it pertains to a seamstress, one sends
a maid. Why will you not be satisfied to send
a nurse?"

"Because I love her. I have wished to go
out for several days, but I had no incentive ; now
it will be a pleasure, and I must go, dear aunt."

"Well, your father shall decide."

The general looked up earnestly: "Do what
you can. Whoever makes his own health a su-
preme object, will never do much good to others,
to say nothing of anything great."

"An instrument out of tune will not produce
harmony," protested Fraulein Mylitta; "the
physical organization of a lady of position needs
especial care at all times; and after an illness,
certainly the most tender consideration."

"I have never regarded my old, crippled
body as either a harp or a piano," maintained


the general. "I look upon it as an artful, re-
bellious slave ; either I must give it the whiplash,
or it lashes me. As to 'ladies of position,' they
are creatures of flesh and blood, and it would ap-
pear to me more sensible for them not to make
bondwomen of their bodies. Thank God, Asta
is perfectly hale. It will do her no harm to
climb a few flights to repay a debt of gratitude."

She approached him, and gently stroking his
white hair, kissed his forehead. " My dear papa,
that pleases me so much."

"And you please me much better than when

you loll in fantastic mummery ; it does n't become

you. Do your duty, my child ; take the good

.woman my regards, and if you wish to plunder

my wine-cellar in her behalf, I have no objection."

"You two are a splendid pair," pursued Frau-
lein Mylitta, ironically.

Frau Von Drambow thought so sincerely.
She joined the young girl, and they soon after
knocked at Linnie Bergmann's humble door.

"The seamstress of Stettin" had remained
alone, as we left her, for a long time. It is true the
woman from the basement visited her occasion-
ally, to shake up her pillow and replenish the
water-pitcher ; but Linnie was unable to collect
her thoughts sufficiently to send for other friends.
The time had come when she should experience
what it was to be alone and dependent. No bird


in its forsaken cage, looking with timid gaze on its
empty seed and water cups, could be more help-
less than she. How often she counted the clock's
strokes, and how long the hours seemed ! To-
day the shadows lengthened in the mansard.
Before the sick one stood the high bed of her
departed mother, and the easy-chair, with its long
arms. On the window-sill the flowers drooped.
She reached with pale, feeble hands for the
water-pitcher ; but vainly her parched lips longed
for a cooling draught it was empty. Attempt-
ing to replace it on the shelf, it fell from her
trembling fingers to the floor and was broken
in pieces. Just then came knocking at the door.

Without waiting for an answer, Frau Von
Drambow and Asta entered. Their presence
was like the sun, overwhelming the room with
its golden flood of light. With characteristic
impetuosity Asta flew to her bedside: " Linnie,
dear, best Linnie, how alone you are ! Why did
you not send for us? And here is the pitcher
on the floor; she wanted water, and there was
no one to give it to her!" she began to lament
in her intense way. Meanwhile her companion
went quietly and quickly to the lower story
for water.

"Now I must not leave you!" cried Asta,
with painful indignation ; "it shall be as though
you had an adopted daughter. See, Mathilda:


she smiles a little already. What kind of mon-
sters are these Stettiners, to let their seamstress
want so miserably!"

Linnie's condition was improved from this
time forward. Asta returned home on wings of
love, and soon came back with her maid, who
carried lemons, ice, a small refrigerator, and
many other useful and useless things. Frau Von
Drambow was obliged to leave ; but it must
be confessed the young girl served the invalid
well almost too well, indeed ; but her over-
zealous attention, if it somewhat disturbed Lin-
nie's nerves, refreshed her heart as a spring-
rain falling upon the thirsty ground. The fever
suddenly abated, and her mind became quite

"My dear Fraulein Asta, please do me one
more favor," she murmured feebly; "the spar-
rows haven't had a crumb all this time. What
will they think of me ? And then the flowers ;
and the ivy around " Before she uttered the
name, came the recollection of the past week's

Asta had learned of the mother's death,
while Frau Von Drambow had been informed of
John's by the tenants of the building. And
now she longed to comfort her sick friend ; to
speak to her of the resurrection, and a blessed
reunion ; but she could not trust herself. She


bent over her in a posture of unutterably sweet
compassion. "Linnie," she ventured, "I will
be your foster-daughter. Do not weep over the
others; only get well now."

Linnie was silent. Her heart was accustomed
to grief, her will accustomed to restraint, and
she had learned self-control upon a sick-bed.
Her eyelids closed deeply over her tender brown
eyes, as she whispered: "It hath pleased God,
it also pleaseth me."

Asta had never heard these simple words ut-
tered with such eloquence. She felt instinct-
ively there was in them the purest, most precious
gold for the Christian's every-day life. It was
easy to repeat lightly, "As God will," but not
so easy to give it sincere utterance in the
hours of distress and sorrow. Ah ! the star of
heathendom, the germ of the unbeliever is, "As

The two remained quietly together. The dif-
ference in social position was wide ; but love had
built a bridge over the gulf, and Asta would have
neglected everything in order that the sick one
might be more comfortable, and feel assured no
one in Stettin was less forsaken. But Linnie's
consideration reminded her that she would not
accept her services during the night. Asta was
most reluctant to yield ; but after the physician's
visit, and assurance that it would be unneces-


sary, she left her, promising to call the fol-
lowing day.

When Linnie was again alone, and so much
improved, there was a feeling of confidence and
thanksgiving in her wounded heart. The stars
looked into the little room, and kept her awake
a long time. Their gentle light awakened in her
tried soul longing desires that, if possible, she
might not remain so utterly alone. Asta's lov-
ing words recurred to her mind ; but Asta could
be no real foster-daughter to the humble seam-
stress. She was too lovely, too beautiful ! She
might, like yonder heavenly star, visit the man-
sard from time to time, as an inhabitant of a
better world, and bring fruit and flowers to her,
but not dwell there no, such a thought was

But there arose another little form before her
mental horizon one with prematurely care-worn
eyes, very thin and dark ; a poor little one,
whose arms had entwined themselves around her
heart, whose timid smile was a reflection of
him who had once been her betrothed, Doro-
thy ! How could she make her all her own ?
Even if the grandparents were willing, Linnie
must live by her needle, and such a frail flower
would droop and wither, alone in her enforced
absences. Yet she continued to long for her, and
to picture a quiet life with the daughter of her


dearest love. At midnight the lovely images of
hope and desire had attained a splendor irresisti-
ble, and Linnie, ensnared by their enchantment,
for the first time in her life entreated God to
bestow this happiness upon her. She had not
believed it to be right to beg importunately for
earthly good. To be bound up with God, to
be united through Christ her Redeemer, to feel
upborne and sustained by Him, had always been
her chief joy. But now there was a secret,
vague something in her heart which gave her the
presumption to ask for Dorothy in spite of

In the early morning, when her friends re-
turned, she expressed a wish to see Dorothy.
Asta at once dispatched the maid to Grlinhof,
who returned with the information that the child
could not come, as she had died during the week
of cholera.

This time it was Asta who wept: "Linnie,
dear Linnie, remember, 'it hath pleased God, it
also pleaseth you. ' ' But it was for Linnie to
feel as Rachel mourning for her children, and
would not be comforted ; yet she did not shed a
tear, and for the time seemed perfectly reconciled.

"John needs her," she thought; "he could
not live without his child."

But there was a relapse after this, and when
she was able to leave her sick-bed the battle of


Kbniggratz had taken place. On account of
this fearful action, which shook all Europe, many
houses at Stettin were plunged into grief and
mourning, and many of the inhabitants were
clothed in sackcloth and ashes, while over them
floated the flag of victory.

It seemed very gay when Linnie went out for
the first time with saddened eyelids, to read upon
all faces an expression of proud joy. She had

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Online LibraryCornelia McFaddenThe seamstress of Stettin → online text (page 13 of 17)