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2. Compare the "Authorized Edition" issued in Leipzig (1878) under
the title "An Old Story of My Farming Days (_Ut Mine Stromtid_)".

3. The diphthong oe is represented by [oe].








* * * * *

Entered according to Act of Congress, in the year 1870, by


In the Office of the Library of Congress at Washington.

* * * * *

* * *

Lippincott's Press.

* * *

Seed-Time and Harvest;




In the year 1829, on St. John's day, a man sat in the deepest
melancholy, under an ash-tree arbor, in a neglected garden. The estate,
to which the garden belonged, was a lease-hold estate, and lay on the
river Peene, between Anclam and Demmin, and the man, who sat in the
cool shade of the arbor, was the lease-holder, - that is to say, he had
been until now; for now he was ejected, and there was an auction to-day
in his homestead, and all his goods and possessions were going to the
four winds.

He was a large, broad-shouldered; light-haired man, of four and forty
years; and nowhere could you find a better specimen of what labor could
make of a man than she had carved from this block. "Labor," said his
honest face, - "Labor," said his firm hands which lay quiet in his lap,
folded one upon another as if for praying.

Yes, for praying! And in the whole broad country of Pomerania, there
might well have been no one with greater need and reason to speak with
his Lord God, than this man. 'Tis a hard thing for any one to see his
household goods, which he has gathered with labor and pains, piece by
piece, go wandering out into the world. 'Tis a hard thing for a farmer
to leave the cattle, which he has fed and cared for, through want and
trouble, to other hands that know nothing of the difficulties which
have oppressed him all his life. But it was not this which lay so heavy
on his heart; it was a still deeper grief which caused the weary hands
to lie folded together, and the weary eyes to droop so heavily.

Since yesterday he was a widower, his wife lay upon her last couch. His
wife! Ten years had he striven for her, ten years had he worked and
toiled, and done what human strength could do that they might come
together, that he might make room for the deep, powerful love which
sung through his whole being, like Pentecost bells over green fields
and blossoming fruit-trees.

Four years ago he had made it possible: he had scraped together
everything that he had; an acquaintance who had inherited from his
parents two estates had leased one of them to him, - at a high rent,
very high - no one knew that better than himself, - but love gives
courage, cheerful courage, to sustain one through everything. Oh, it
would have gone well, quite well, if misfortunes had not come upon
them, if his dear little wife had not risen before the daylight and ere
the dew was risen, and got such feverish red spots on her cheeks. Oh,
all would have gone well, quite well, if his landlord had been not
merely an acquaintance but a friend - he was not the latter; to-day he
allowed his agent to hold the auction.

Friends? Such a man as the one who sat under the ashen arbor, has he no
friends? Ah, he had friends, and their friendship was true; but they
could not help him, they had nothing either to give or to lend.
Wherever he looked, there seemed a gloomy wall before his eyes, which
narrowed around him, and pressed him in, until he must needs call upon
the Lord to deliver him out of his distresses. And over him in the
ashen twigs sang the finches, and their gay plumage glittered in the
sun, and the flowers in the neglected garden gave out their fragrance,
all in vain, - and the fairest bridal pair in the world might have sat
there, and never have forgotten either the place or the day.

And had he not often sat under these shade trees with a soft hand in
his hard one? Had not the birds sung, had not the flowers been
fragrant? Had he not under the ash-trees dreamed of their cool shade
for his old age? And who was it that had brought to him here a
refreshing drink after a hot day's labor? Who was it that had shared in
and consoled all his cares and sorrows?

It was gone - all gone! - Here was care and trouble about the auction,
and the soft, warm hand was cold and stiff. And so it is much the same
to a man as if the birds sang no longer, and the flowers had lost their
fragrance, and the blessed sun shone for him no more; and if the poor
heart keeps on beating it reaches out, beyond birds and flowers and
beyond the golden sun, higher up after a Comforter, in whose presence
these earthly joys shall fade and fall, but before whom the human soul
shall stand forever.

So sat Habermann before his God, and his hands were folded, and his
honest blue eyes bent to the ground, and yet there shone in them a
clear light, as from God's sun. Then came a little maiden running to
him, and laid a marigold blossom on his lap, and the two hands unfolded
themselves and clasped the child, - it was his child, - and he rose up
from the bench, and took her on his arm, and from his eyes fell tear
after tear, and he kept the marigold flower in his hand, and went with
the child along the path through the garden.

He came to a young tree which he had planted himself; the straw-rope
with which it was bound to its prop had loosened, and the tree was
sagging downwards. He reached up and bound it fast, without thinking
what he was doing, for his thoughts were far away, but care and helping
were part of his nature.

But when a man's thoughts are in the clouds, were it even in the blue
heavens, if his daily duties come before his eyes, - the old accustomed
handiwork, - and he does them, he helps himself in so doing, for they
call him back from the distance and show him what is near by, and what
is in need of help. And it is one of our Lord's mercies that this is

He walked up and down the garden, and his eyes saw what was around him,
and his thoughts came back to earth; and though the black, gloomy
clouds still overspread the heaven of his future, they could not
conceal one little patch of blue sky, - that, was the little girl whom
he bore on his arm, and whose baby hand played with his hair. He had
thought over his situation, steadily and earnestly he had looked the
black clouds in the face; he must take care that he and his little one
were not overpowered by the storm.

He went from the garden toward the house. Good Heavens, how his courage
sank! Indifferent to him, and absorbed in their petty affairs, a crowd
of men pressed around the table where the actuary was holding the
auction. Piece by piece the furniture acquired by his years of industry
was knocked down to the highest bidder; piece by piece his household
gear had come into the house, with trouble and anxiety; piece by piece
it went out to the world, amid jokes and laughter. This sideboard had
been his old mother's, this chest of drawers his wife had brought with
her, that little work-table he had given her while she was yet a bride.
Near by stood his cattle, tied to a rack, and lowing after their
pasture; the brown yearling which his poor wife herself had brought up,
her special pet, stood among them; he went round to her, and stroked
her with his hand.

"Herr," said the bailiff Niemann, "'tis a sad pity"

"Yes, Niemann, 'tis a pity; but there's no help for it," said he, and
turned away, and went toward the men who were crowding around the
auctioneer's table.

As the people noticed him, they made room for him in a courteous and
friendly manner, and he turned to the auctioneer as if he would speak a
few words to him.

"Directly, Herr Habermann," said the man, "in a moment. I am just
through with the house-inventory, then - A chest of drawers! Two
thalers, four shillings! Six shillings! Two thalers eight shillings!
Once! Twice! Two thalers twelve shillings! No more? Once! Twice!
and - thrice! Who has it?"

"Brandt, the tailor," was the answer.

Just at this moment, a company of country people came riding up the
yard, who apparently wished to look at the cattle, which came next in
order in the sale. Foremost rode a stout, red-faced man, upon whose
broad features arrogance had plenty of room to display itself. This
quality was very strongly marked; but an unusual accompaniment was
indicated by the little, crafty eyes, which peered out over the coarse
cheeks, as if to say, "You are pretty well off, but we have something
to do to look after your interests." The owner of these eyes was the
owner also of the estate of which Habermann had held the lease; he rode
close up to the cluster of men, and, as he saw his unhappy tenant
standing among them, the possibility occurred to him that he might fail
of receiving his full rent, and the crafty eyes, which understood so
well how to look after their own interests, said to the arrogance which
sat upon mouth and mien, "Brother, now is a good time to spread
yourself; it will cost you nothing;" and pressing his horse nearer to
Habermann he called, so that all the people must hear, "Yes, here is
your prudent Mecklenburger, who will teach us how to manage a farm!
What has he taught us? To drink wine and shuffle cards he might teach
us, but farming - _Bankruptcy_, he can teach us!"

All were silent at these hard words, and looked first at him who had
uttered them, and then at him against whom they were directed.
Habermann was at first struck, by voice and words together, as if a
knife had been plunged into his heart; now he stood still and looked
silently before him, letting all go over his head; but among the people
broke out a murmuring - "Fie! Fie! For shame! The man is no drinker nor
card-player. He has worked his farm like a good fellow!"

"What great donkey is this, who can talk like that?" asked old Farmer
Drenkhahn, from Liepen, and pressed nearer with his buckthorn staff.

"That's the fellow, father," called out Stolper the smith, "who lets
his people go begging about, for miles around."

"They haven't a coat to their backs," said tailor Brandt, of Jarmen,
"and by all their labour they can only earn victuals."

"Yes," laughed the smith, "that's the fellow who is so kind to his
people that they all have nice dress-coats to work in, while he does
not keep enough to buy himself a smock-frock."

The auctioneer had sprung up and ran towards the landlord, who had
heard these remarks with unabashed thick-headedness. "In God's name,
Herr Pomuchelskopp, how can you talk so?"

"Yes," said one of his own company, who rode up with him, "these folks
are right. You should be ashamed of yourself! The poor man has given up
everything that he had a right to keep, and goes out into the world
to-morrow, empty-handed, and you go on abusing him."

"Ah, indeed," said the auctioneer, "if that were all! But his wife died
only yesterday, and lies on her last couch, and there he is with his
poor little child, and what prospect has the poor man for the future?"

The murmur went round among the people of the landlord's company, and
it was not long before he had the place to himself; those who came with
him had ridden aside. "Did I know that?" said he peevishly, and rode
out of the yard; and the little, crafty eyes said to the broad
arrogance, "Brother, this time we went rather too far."

The auctioneer turned to Habermann. "Herr Habermann, you had something
to say to me?"

"Yes - yes - " replied the farmer, like a man who has been under torture,
coming again to his senses. "Yes, I was going to ask you to put up to
auction the few things I have a right to keep back, - the bed and the
other things."

"Willingly; but the household furniture has sold badly, the people have
no money, and if you wish to dispose of anything you would do better at
private sale."

"I have not time for that, and I need the money."

"Then if you wish it, I will offer the goods at auction," and the man
went back to his business.

"Habermann," said Farmer Grot, who came with the company on horseback,
"you are so lonely here, in your misfortunes; come home with me, you
and your little girl, and stay awhile with us, my wife will be right
glad - - "

"I thank you much for the good will; but I cannot go, I have still
something to do here."

"Habermann," said farmer Hartmann, "you mean the funeral of your good
wife. When do you bury her? We will all come together, to do her this
last honor."

"For that I thank you too; but I cannot receive you as would be proper,
and by this time I have learned that one must cut his coat according to
his cloth."

"Old friend, my dear old neighbor and countryman," said Inspector
Wienk, and clapped him on the shoulder, "do not yield to
discouragement! things will go better with you yet."

"Discouragement, Wienk?" said Habermann, earnestly, pressing his child
closer to himself, and looking steadily at the inspector, with his
honest blue eyes. "Is that discouragement, to look one's future
steadily in the face, and do one's utmost to avert misfortune? But I
cannot stay here; a man avoids the place where he has once made
shipwreck. I must go to some house at a distance, and begin again at
the beginning. I must work for my bread again, and stretch my feet
under a stranger's table. And now good-bye to you all! You have always
been good neighbors and friends to me. Adieu! Adieu! Give me your hand.
Wienk, - Adieu! and greet them all kindly at your house; my wife - - ' He
had still something to say, but he seemed to be overcome, and turned
almost quickly and went his way.

"Niemann," said he to his bailiff, as he came to the other end of the
farm-yard, "Tell the other people, to-morrow morning early, at four
o'clock, I will bury my wife." With that, he went into the house, into
his sleeping-room. It was all cleaned out, his bed and all the
furniture which had been left to him; nothing remained but four bare
walls. Only in a dark corner stood an old chest, and on it sat a young
woman, the wife of a day-laborer, her eyes red with weeping; and in the
middle of the room stood a black coffin in which lay a white, still,
solemn face, and the woman had a green branch in her hand, and brushed
the flies from the still face.

"Stina," said Habermann, "go home now; I will stay here."

"Oh, Herr, let me stay!"

"No, Stina, I shall stay here all night."

"Shall I not take the little one with me?"

"No, leave her, she will sleep well."

The young woman went out: the auctioneer came and handed him the money
which he had received for his goods, the people went away from the
court-yard; it became as quiet out of doors as in. He put the child
down, and reckoned the money on the window-seat. "That pays the
cabinet-maker for the coffin; that for the cross at the grave; that for
the funeral. Stina shall have this, and with the rest I can go to my
sister." The evening came, the young wife of the laborer brought in a
lighted candle, and set it on the coffin, and gazed long at the white
face, then dried her eyes and said "Goodnight," and Habermann was,
again alone with his child.

He raised the window, and looked out into the night. It was dark for
that time of year, no stars shone in the sky, all was obscured with
black clouds, and a warm, damp air breathed on his face, and sighed in
the distance. From over the fields came the note of the quail, and the
land-rail uttered its rain-call, and softly fell the first drops on the
dusty ground, and his heart rose in thanks for the gift of sweetest
savor known to the husbandman, the earth-vapor in which hover all
blessings for his cares and labor. How often had it refreshed his soul,
chased away his anxieties, and renewed his hope of a good year! Now he
was set loose from care, but also from joy; a great joy had gone from
him, and had taken with it all lesser ones.

He closed the window, and, as he turned round, there stood his little
daughter by the coffin, reaching vainly toward the still face, as if
she would stroke it. He raised the child higher so that she could
reach, and the little girl stroked and kissed the cold, dead cheek of
her silent mother, and looked then at her father with her great eyes,
as if she would ask something unspeakable, and said "Mother! Oh!"

"Yes," said Habermann, "mother is cold," and the tears started in his
eyes, and he sat down on the chest, took his daughter on his lap, and
wept bitterly. The little one began to weep also, and cried herself
quietly to sleep. He laid her softly against his breast, and wrapped
his coat warmly about her, and so sat he the night through, and held
true lyke-wake over his wife and his happiness.

Next morning, punctually, at four o'clock, came the bailiff with the
other laborers. The coffin was screwed up; the procession moved slowly
toward the church-yard; the only mourners himself and his little girl.
The coffin was lowered into the grave. A silent Pater Noster, - a
handful of earth, - and the image of her who had for years refreshed and
comforted him, rejoiced and enlivened, was concealed from his eyes, and
if he would see it again he must turn over his heart like a book, leaf
by leaf, until he comes to the closing page, and then, - yes, there will
the dear image stand, fair and lovely before his eyes once more.

He went among his people, shook hands with every one, and thanked them
for this last service which they had rendered him, and then said
"Good-bye" to them, gave to the bailiff the money for the coffin, cross
and funeral, and then, absorbed in thought, started on his lonely way
out into the gloomy future.

As he came to the last house in the little hamlet, the young laborer's
wife stood with a child on her arm before the door. He stepped up to

"Stina, you took faithful care of my poor wife in her last
sickness, - here, Stina," and would press a couple of dollars into her

"Herr, Herr," cried the young wife, "don't do me that injury! What have
you not done for us in good days? Why should we not in hard times make
some little return? Ah, Herr, I have one favor to ask; leave the child
here with me! I will cherish it as if it were my own. And is it not
like my own? I have nursed it at my breast, when your poor wife was so
weak. Leave me the child!"

Habermann stood in deep thought. "Herr," said the woman, "you will have
to separate from the poor little thing, sooner or later. See, here
comes Jochen, he will speak for himself."

The laborer came up, and, as he heard of what they were speaking, said,
"Yes, Herr, she shall be cared for like a princess, and we are healthy,
and well to do, and what you have done for us, we will richly repay to

"No," said Habermann, lifting himself from his thoughts, "that won't
go, I can't do it. I may be wrong to take the child with me upon an
uncertainty; but I have left so much here, this last thing I cannot
give up. No, no! I can't do it," cried he hastily and turned himself to
go, "my child must be where I am. Adieu, Stina! Adieu, Rassow!"

"If you will not leave us the child, Herr," said the laborer, "let me
at least go with you a little way, and carry her for you."

"No, No!" said Habermann, "she is no burden for me;" but he could not
hinder the young woman from stroking and kissing his little daughter,
and ever again kissing her, nor that both these honest souls, as he
went on his way, should stand long looking after him. She, with tears
in her eyes, thought more of the child, he, in serious reflection, more
of the man.

"Stina," said he, "we shall never again have such a master."

"The Lord knows that," said she, and both went sadly back to their
daily labor.


About eight miles from the place where Habermann had left his wife in
her quiet grave, lay in Mecklenburg a farm of less than medium size,
which was tenanted by his brother-in-law, Jochen Nüssler. The
farm-buildings had never been very substantial, and were now much in
need of repair, and moreover things were very disorderly; here a little
refuse heap, and there another, and the wagon and farm implements stood
here and there, and mingled together, like the people at a fair, and
the cart said to the wagon, "Brother, how came you here?" and the rake
laid hold of the harrow and said, "Come, dear, we will have a dance."
But the music was lacking, for it was all still in the farm-yard, quite
still. This lovely weather, all were in the meadow, haying, and even
from the little open windows of the long, low, straw-roofed farm-house
came no sound, for it was afternoon; the cook had finished her baking,
and the housemaid her cleaning, and both had gone together to the
meadow; and even the farmer's wife, who usually had something to say
for herself, was nowhere visible, for she also had gone from the
farm-yard with a rake in her hand; the hay must all be gathered into
great stacks before night-fall.

But there was yet life in the house, though of a little, quiet kind. In
the room at the right of the porch, in the living-room, where the
blue-painted corner-cupboard stood, - the _schenk_, they called it, and
the sofa covered with black glazed linen, which was freshly polished up
with boot-blacking every Saturday and the oaken chest of drawers with
gilt ornaments, sat two little maidens of three years, with round
flaxen heads, and round rosy cheeks, playing in a heap of sand, making
cheeses with mother's thimble, and filling the damp sand into two
little shilling pots, which they turned upside down, laughing and
rejoicing if the lump stood firm.

These were Lining and Mining Nüssler, and they looked, for all the
world, like a pair of little twin apples, growing on one stem; and they
were so indeed, for they were twins, and one who did not know that
Lining was not Mining, and Mining was not Lining, would be puzzled from
morning to night, for their names were not written in their faces, and
if their mother had not marked them with a colored band on the arm,
there would have been grave doubts in the matter, and their father,
Jochen Nüssler, was even yet in some uncertainty; Lining was properly
Mining, and Mining Lining, they had been as it were shaken up together
at the outset of their little lives. At present, there was no occasion
for such perplexity, for the mother had tied a blue ribbon in Lining's
little flaxen curls, and a red one in Mining's; and if one kept that in
mind, and observed them carefully, one would see plainly that Jochen
Nüssler was wrong, for Lining was half an hour older than Mining, and,
slight as the difference was, the seniority made itself quite evident,
for Lining took the lead in everything; but she comforted her little
sister also, when she was in trouble.

Besides this little, unmistakable pair of twins, there was yet another
pair of twins in the room; but an old, experienced, circumspect couple,
who looked down from the chest of drawers on the children, and shook
their heads hither and thither, in the light breeze which came in at
the open window; these were grandfather's peruke, and grandmother's
state-cap, which were paraded on a pair of cap-stocks, and which
to-morrow, - Sunday, - would play their part.

"Look, Lining," said Mining, "there is grandfather's puk." She could
not get the "r" quite right yet.

"You always say 'puk;' you must say 'p-u-k,'" said Lining, for she also
was not quite up to the "r;" but being the eldest she must needs direct
her little sister in the right way.

With that the little pair of twins got up and stood before the chest of
drawers, and looked at the old pair of twins on the cap-stocks, and
Mining, who was still very thoughtless, reached after the peruke stock,
and took down grandfather's peruke, turned it over on her head as
seemed well to her, and, placing herself before the glass, performed
just as grandfather did on Sundays. Now was the time for Lining to

Online LibraryFritz ReuterSeed-time and Harvest → online text (page 1 of 54)