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do the same when we are old, John, and our children will be wondering at
us!"

John laughed. This was always the way with Carlen. She could put a man
in good humor in a few minutes, however cross he felt in the beginning.

"I won't, then!" he exclaimed. "I know I won't. If ever I have a son
grown, I'll treat him like a son grown, not like a baby."

"May I be there to see!" said Carlen, merrily, -

"And you remember free
The words I said to thee.

"Hold the candle here for me, will you, that's a good boy. While we have
talked, my yarn has tangled."

As they stood close together, John holding the candle high over Carlen's
head, she bending over the tangled yarn, the kitchen door opened
suddenly, and their father came in, bringing with him a stranger, - a
young man seemingly about twenty-five years of age, tall, well made,
handsome, but with a face so melancholy that both John and Carlen felt a
shiver as they looked upon it.

"Here now comes de hand, at last of de time, Johan," cried the old man.
"It vill be that all can vel be done now. And it is goot that he is from
mine own country. He cannot English speak, many vords; but dat is
nothing; he can vork. I tolt you dere vould be mans come!"

John looked scrutinizingly at the newcomer. The man's eyes fell.

"What is your name?" said John.

"Wilhelm Rütter," he answered.

"How long have you been in this country?"

"Ten days."

"Where are your friends?"

"I haf none."

"None?"

"None."

These replies were given in a tone as melancholy as the expression of
the face.

Carlen stood still, her wheel arrested, the yarn between her thumb and
ringer, her eyes fastened on the stranger's face. A thrill of
unspeakable pity stirred her. So young, so sad, thus alone in the world;
who ever heard of such a fate?

"But there were people who came with you in the ship?" said John. "There
is some one who knows who you are, I suppose."

"No, no von dat knows," replied the newcomer.

"Haf done vid too much questions," interrupted Farmer Weitbreck. "I haf
him asked all. He stays till harvest be done. He can vork. It is to be
easy see he can vork."

John did not like the appearance of things. "Too much mystery here," he
thought. "However, it is not long he will be here, and he will be in the
fields all the time; there cannot be much danger. But who ever heard of
a man whom no human being knew?"

As they sat at supper, Farmer Weitbreck and his wife plied Wilhelm with
questions about their old friends in Mayence. He was evidently familiar
with all the localities and names which they mentioned. His replies,
however, were given as far as possible in monosyllables, and he spoke no
word voluntarily. Sitting with his head bent slightly forward, his eyes
fixed on the floor, he had the expression of one lost in thoughts of the
gloomiest kind.

"Make yourself to be more happy, mein lad," said the farmer, as he bade
him good-night and clapped him on the shoulder. "You haf come to house
vere is German be speaked, and is Germany in hearts; dat vill be to you
as friends."

A strange look of even keener pain passed over the young man's face, and
he left the room hastily, without a word of good-night.

"He's a surly brute!" cried John; "nice company he'll be in the field! I
believe I'd sooner have nobody!"

"I think he has seen some dreadful trouble," said Carlen. "I wish we
could do something for him; perhaps his friends are all dead. I think
that must be it, don't you think so, mütter?"

Frau Weitbreck was incarnate silence and reticence. These traits were
native in her, and had been intensified to an abnormal extent by thirty
years of life with a husband whose temper and peculiarities were such as
to make silence and reticence the sole conditions of peace and comfort.
To so great a degree had this second nature of the good frau been
developed, that she herself did not now know that it was a second
nature; therefore it stood her in hand as well as if she had been
originally born to it, and it would have been hard to find in Lancaster
County a more placid and contented wife than she. She never dreamed that
her custom of silent acquiescence in all that Gustavus said - of waiting
in all cases, small and great, for his decision - had in the outset been
born of radical and uncomfortable disagreements with him. And as for
Gustavus himself, if anybody had hinted to him that his frau could
think, or ever had thought, any word or deed of his other than right, he
would have chuckled complacently at that person's blind ignorance of the
truth.

"Mein frau, she is goot," he said; "goot frau, goot mütter. American
fraus not goot so she; all de time talk and no vork. American fraus,
American mans, are sheep in dere house."

But in regard to this young stranger, Frau Weitbreck seemed strangely
stirred from her usual phlegmatic silence. Carlen's appeal to her had
barely been spoken, when, rising in her place at the head of the table,
the old woman said solemnly, in German, -

"Yes, Liebchen, he goes with the eyes like eyes of a man that saw always
the dead. It must be as you say, that all whom he loves are in the
grave. Poor boy! poor boy! it is now that one must be to him mother and
father and brother."

"And sister too," said Carlen, warmly. "I will be his sister."

"And I not his brother till he gets a civiller tongue in his head," said
John.

"It is not to be brother I haf him brought," interrupted the old man.
"Alvays you vimmen are too soon; it may be he are goot, it may be he are
pad; I do not know. It is to vork I haf him brought."

"Yes," echoed Frau Weitbreck; "we do not know."

It was not so easy as Carlen and her mother had thought, to be like
mother and sister to Wilhelm. The days went by, and still he was as much
a stranger as on the evening of his arrival. He never voluntarily
addressed any one. To all remarks or even questions he replied in the
fewest words and curtest phrases possible. A smile was never seen on his
face. He sat at the table like a mute at a funeral, ate without lifting
his eyes, and silently rose as soon as his own meal was finished. He had
soon selected his favorite seat in the kitchen. It was on the right-hand
side of the big fireplace, in a corner. Here he sat all through the
evenings, carving, out of cows' horns or wood, boxes and small figures
such as are made by the peasants in the German Tyrol. In this work he
had a surprising skill. What he did with the carvings when finished, no
one knew. One night John said to him, -

"I do not see, Wilhelm, how you can have so steady a hand after holding
the sickle all day. My arm aches, and my hand trembles so that I can but
just carry my cup to my lips."

Wilhelm made no reply, but held his right hand straight out at arm's
length, with the delicate figure he was carving poised on his
forefinger. It stood as steady as on the firm ground.

Carlen looked at him admiringly. "It is good to be so steady-handed,"
she said; "you must be strong, Wilhelm."

"Yes," he said, "I haf strong;" and went on carving.

Nothing more like conversation than this was ever drawn from him. Yet he
seemed not averse to seeing people. He never left the kitchen till the
time came for bed; but when that came he slipped away silent, taking no
part in the general good-night unless he was forced to do so. Sometimes
Carlen, having said jokingly to John, "Now, I will make Wilhelm say
good-night to-night," succeeded in surprising him before he could leave
the room; but often, even when she had thus planned, he contrived to
evade her, and was gone before she knew it.

He slept in a small chamber in the barn, - a dreary enough little place,
but he seemed to find it all sufficient. He had no possessions except
the leather pack he had brought on his back. This lay on the floor
unlocked; and when the good Frau Weitbreck, persuading herself that she
was actuated solely by a righteous, motherly interest in the young man,
opened it, she found nothing whatever there, except a few garments of
the commonest description, - no book, no paper, no name on any article.
It would not appear possible that a man of so decent a seeming as
Wilhelm could have come from Germany to America with so few personal
belongings. Frau Weitbreck felt less at ease in her mind about him after
she examined this pack.

He had come straight from the ship to their house, he had said, when he
arrived; had walked on day after day, going he knew not whither, asking
mile by mile for work. He did not even know one State's name from
another. He simply chose to go south rather than north, - always south,
he said.

"Why?"

He did not know.

He was indeed strong. The sickle was in his hand a plaything, so
swift-swung that he seemed to be doing little more than simply striding
up and down the field, the grain falling to right and left at his steps.
From sunrise to sunset he worked tirelessly. The famous Alf had never
done so much in a day. Farmer Weitbreck chuckled as he looked on.

"Vat now you say of dat Alf?" he said triumphantly to John; "vork he as
dis man? Oh, but he make swing de hook!"

John assented unqualifiedly to this praise of Wilhelm's strength and
skill; but nevertheless he shook his head.

"Ay, ay," he said, "I never saw his equal; but I like him not. What
carries he in his heart to be so sour? He is like a man bewitched. I
know not if there be such a thing as to be sold to the devil, as the
stories say; but if there be, on my word, I think Wilhelm has made some
such bargain. A man could not look worse if he had signed himself away."

"I see not dat he haf fear in his face," replied the old man.

"No," said John, "neither do I see fear. It is worse than fear. I would
like to see his face come alive with a fear. He gives me cold shivers
like a grave underfoot. I shall be glad when he is gone."

Farmer Weitbreck laughed. He and his son were likely to be again at
odds on the subject of a laborer.

"But he vill not go. I haf said to him to stay till Christmas, maybe
always."

John's surprise was unbounded.

"To stay! Till Christmas!" he cried. "What for? What do we need of a man
in the winter?"

"It is not dat to feed him is much, and all dat he make vid de knife is
mine. It is home he vants, no oder ting; he vork not for money."

"Father," said John, earnestly, "there must be something wrong about
that man. I have thought so from the first. Why should he work for
nothing but his board, - a great strong fellow like that, that could make
good day's wages anywhere? Don't keep him after the harvest is over. I
can't bear the sight of him."

"Den you can turn de eyes to your head von oder way," retorted his
father. "I find him goot to see; and," after a pause, "so do Carlen."

John started. "Good heavens, father!" he exclaimed.

"Oh, you need not speak by de heavens, mein son!" rejoined the old man,
in a taunting tone. "I tink I can mine own vay, vidout you to be help. I
was not yesterday born!"

John was gone. Flight was his usual refuge when he felt his temper
becoming too much for him; but now his steps were quickened by an
impulse of terrible fear. Between him and his sister had always been a
bond closer than is wont to link brother and sister. Only one year apart
in age, they had grown up together in an intimacy like that of twins;
from their cradles till now they had had their sports, tastes, joys,
sorrows in common, not a secret from each other since they could
remember. At least, this was true of John; was he to find it no longer
true of Carlen? He would know, and that right speedily. As by a flash of
lightning he thought he saw his father's scheme, - if Carlen were to wed
this man, this strong and tireless worker, this unknown, mysterious
worker, who wanted only shelter and home and cared not for money, what
an invaluable hand would be gained on the farm! John groaned as he
thought to himself how little anything - any doubt, any misgiving,
perhaps even an actual danger - would in his father's mind outweigh the
one fact that the man did not "vork for money."

As he walked toward the house, revolving these disquieting conjectures,
all his first suspicion and antagonism toward Wilhelm revived in full
force, and he was in a mood well calculated to distort the simplest
acts, when he suddenly saw sitting in the square stoop at the door the
two persons who filled his thoughts, Wilhelm and Carlen, - Wilhelm
steadily at work as usual at his carving, his eyes closely fixed on it,
his figure, as was its wont, rigidly still; and Carlen, - ah! it was an
unlucky moment John had taken to search out the state of Carlen's
feeling toward Wilhelm, - Carlen sitting in a posture of dreamy reverie,
one hand lying idle in her lap holding her knitting, the ball rolling
away unnoticed on the ground; her other arm thrown carelessly over the
railing of the stoop, her eyes fixed on Wilhelm's bowed head.

John stood still and watched her, - watched her long. She did not move.
She was almost as rigidly still as Wilhelm himself. Her eyes did not
leave his face. One might safely sit in that way by the hour and gaze
undetected at Wilhelm. He rarely looked up except when he was addressed.

After standing thus a few moments John turned away, bitter and sick at
heart. What had he been about, that he had not seen this? He, the loving
comrade brother, to be slower of sight than the hard, grasping parent!

"I will ask mother," he thought. "I can't ask Carlen now! It is too
late."

He found his mother in the kitchen, busy getting the bountiful supper
which was a daily ordinance in the Weitbreck religion. To John's
sharpened perceptions the fact that Carlen was not as usual helping in
this labor loomed up into significance.

"Why does not Carlen help you, mütter?" he said hastily. "What is she
doing there, idling with Wilhelm in the stoop?"

Frau Weitbreck smiled. "It is not alvays to vork, ven one is young," she
said. "I haf not forget!" And she nodded her head meaningly.

John clenched his hands. Where had he been? Who had blinded him? How had
all this come about, so soon and without his knowledge? Were his father
and his mother mad? He thought they must be.

"It is a shame for that Wilhelm to so much as put his eyes on Carlen's
face," he cried. "I think we are fools; what know we about him? I doubt
him in and out. I wish he had never darkened our doors."

Frau Weitbreck glanced cautiously at the open door. She was frying sweet
cakes in the boiling lard. Forgetting everything in her fear of being
overheard, she went softly, with the dripping skimmer in her hand,
across the kitchen, the fat falling on her shining floor at every step,
and closed the door. Then she came close to her son, and said in a
whisper, "The fader think it is goot." At John's angry exclamation she
raised her hand in warning.

"Do not loud spraken," she whispered; "Carlen will hear."

"Well, then, she shall hear!" cried John, half beside himself. "It is
high time she did hear from somebody besides you and father! I reckon
I've got something to say about this thing, too, if I'm her brother.
By - - , no tramp like that is going to marry my sister without I know
more about him!" And before the terrified old woman could stop him, he
had gone at long strides across the kitchen, through the best room, and
reached the stoop, saying in a loud tone: "Carlen! I want to see you."

Carlen started as one roused from sleep. Seeing her ball lying at a
distance on the ground, she ran to pick it up, and with scarlet cheeks
and uneasy eyes turned to her brother.

"Yes, John," she said, "I am coming."

Wilhelm did not raise his eyes, or betray by any change of feature that
he had heard the sound or perceived the motion. As Carlen passed him her
eyes involuntarily rested on his bowed head, a world of pity,
perplexity, in the glance. John saw it, and frowned.

"Come with me," he said sternly, - "come down in the pasture; I want to
speak to you."

Carlen looked up apprehensively into his face; never had she seen there
so stern a look.

"I must help mütter with the supper," she said, hesitating.

John laughed scornfully. "You were helping with the supper, I suppose,
sitting out with yon tramp!" And he pointed to the stoop.

Carlen had, with all her sunny cheerfulness, a vein of her father's
temper. Her face hardened, and her blue eyes grew darker.

"Why do you call Wilhelm a tramp," she said coldly.

"What is he then, if he is not a tramp?" retorted John.

"He is no tramp," she replied, still more doggedly.

"What do you know about him?" said John.

Carlen made no reply. Her silence irritated John more than any words
could have done; and losing self-control, losing sight of prudence, he
poured out on her a torrent of angry accusation and scornful reproach.

She stood still, her eyes fixed on the ground. Even in his hot wrath,
John noticed this unwonted downcast look, and taunted her with it.

"You have even caught his miserable hangdog trick of not looking anybody
in the face," he cried. "Look up now! look me in the eye, and say what
you mean by all this."

Thus roughly bidden, Carlen raised her blue eyes and confronted her
brother with a look hardly less angry than his own.

"It is you who have to say to me what all this means that you have been
saying," she cried. "I think you are out of your senses. I do not know
what has happened to you." And she turned to walk back to the house.

John seized her shoulders in his brawny hands, and whirled her round
till she faced him again.

"Tell me the truth!" he said fiercely; "do you love this Wilhelm?"

Carlen opened her lips to reply. At that second a step was heard, and
looking up they saw Wilhelm himself coming toward them, walking at his
usual slow pace, his head sunk on his breast, his eyes on the ground.
Great waves of blushes ran in tumultuous flood up Carlen's neck, cheeks,
forehead. John took his hands from her shoulders, and stepped back with
a look of disgust and a smothered ejaculation. Wilhelm, hearing the
sound, looked up, regarded them with a cold, unchanged eye, and turned
in another direction.

The color deepened on Carlen's face. In a hard and bitter tone she said,
pointing with a swift gesture to Wilhelm's retreating form: "You can see
for yourself that there is nothing between us. I do not know what craze
has got into your head." And she walked away, this time unchecked by her
brother. He needed no further replies in words. Tokens stronger than any
speech had answered him. Muttering angrily to himself, he went on down
to the pasture after the cows. It was a beautiful field, more like New
England than Pennsylvania; a brook ran zigzagging through it, and here
and there in the land were sharp lifts where rocks cropped out, making
miniature cliffs overhanging some portions of the brook's-course. Gray
lichens and green mosses grew on these rocks, and belts of wild flag and
sedges surrounded their base. The cows, in a warm day, used to stand
knee-deep there, in shade of the rocks.

It was a favorite place of Wilhelm's. He sometimes lay on the top of one
of these rocks the greater part of the night, looking down into the
gliding water or up into the sky. Carlen from her window had more than
once seen him thus, and passionately longed to go down and comfort his
lonely sorrow.

It was indeed true, as she had said to her brother, that there was
"nothing between" her and Wilhelm. Never a word had passed; never a look
or tone to betray that he knew whether she were fair or not, - whether
she lived or not. She came and went in his presence, as did all others,
with no more apparent relation to the currents of his strange veiled
existence than if they or he belonged to a phantom world. But it was
also true that never since the first day of his mysterious coming had
Wilhelm been long absent from Carlen's thoughts; and she did indeed find
him - as her father's keen eyes, sharpened by greed, had observed - good
to look upon. That most insidious of love's allies, pity, had stormed
the fortress of Carlen's heart, and carried it by a single charge. What
could a girl give, do, or be, that would be too much for one so
stricken, so lonely as was Wilhelm! The melancholy beauty of his face,
his lithe figure, his great strength, all combined to heighten this
impression, and to fan the flames of the passion in Carlen's virgin
soul. It was indeed, as John had sorrowfully said to himself, "too late"
to speak to Carlen.

As John stood now at the pasture bars, waiting for the herd of cows,
slow winding up the slope from the brook, he saw Wilhelm on the rocks
below. He had thrown himself down on his back, and lay there with his
arms crossed on his breast. Presently he clasped both hands over his
eyes as if to shut out a sight that he could no longer bear. Something
akin to pity stirred even in John's angry heart as he watched him.

"What can it be," he said, "that makes him hate even the sky? It may be
it is a sweetheart he has lost, and he is one of that strange kind of
men who can love but once; and it is loving the dead that makes him so
like one dead himself. Poor Carlen! I think myself he never so much as
sees her."

A strange reverie, surely, for the brother who had so few short moments
ago been angrily reproaching his sister for the disgrace and shame of
caring for this tramp. But the pity was short-lived in John's bosom. His
inborn distrust and antagonism to the man were too strong for any
gentler sentiment toward him to live long by their side. And when the
family gathered at the supper-table he fixed upon Wilhelm so suspicious
and hostile a gaze that even Wilhelm's absent mind perceived it, and he
in turn looked inquiringly at John, a sudden bewilderment apparent in
his manner. It disappeared, however, almost immediately, dying away in
his usual melancholy absorption. It had produced scarce a ripple on the
monotonous surface of his habitual gloom. But Carlen had perceived all,
both the look on John's face and the bewilderment on Wilhelm's; and it
roused in her a resentment so fierce toward John, she could not forbear
showing it. "How cruel!" she thought. "As if the poor fellow had not all
he could bear already without being treated unkindly by us!" And she
redoubled her efforts to win Wilhelm's attention and divert his
thoughts, all in vain; kindness and unkindness glanced off alike,
powerless, from the veil in which he was wrapped.

John sat by with roused attention and sharpened perception, noting all.
Had it been all along like this? Where had his eyes been for the past
month? Had he too been under a spell? It looked like it. He groaned in
spirit as he sat silently playing with his food, not eating; and when
his father said, "Why haf you not appetite, Johan?" he rose abruptly,
pushed back his chair, and leaving the table without a word went out and
down again into the pasture, where the dewy grass and the quivering
stars in the brook shimmered in the pale light of a young moon. To John,
also, the mossy rocks in this pasture were a favorite spot for rest and
meditation. Since the days when he and Carlen had fished from their
edges, with bent pins and yarn, for minnows, he had loved the place:
they had spent happy hours enough there to count up into days; and not
the least among the innumerable annoyances and irritations of which he
had been anxious in regard to Wilhelm was the fact that he too had
perceived the charm of the field, and chosen it for his own melancholy
retreat.

As he seated himself on one of the rocks, he saw a figure gliding
swiftly down the hill.

It was Carlen.

As she drew near he looked at her without speaking, but the loving girl
was not repelled. Springing lightly to the rock, she threw her arms
around his neck, and kissing him said: "I saw you coming down here,
John, and I ran after you. Do not be angry with me, brother; it breaks
my heart."

A sudden revulsion of shame for his unjust suspicion filled John with
tenderness.

"Mein Schwester," he said fondly, - they had always the habit of using
the German tongue for fond epithets, - "mein Schwester klein, I love you
so much I cannot help being wretched when I see you in danger, but I am
not angry."

Nestling herself close by his side, Carlen looked over into the water.

"This is the very rock I fell off of that day, do you remember?" she
said; "and how wet you got fishing me out! And oh, what an awful beating
father gave you! and I always thought it was wicked, for if you had not
pulled me out I should have drowned."

"It was for letting you fall in he beat me," laughed John; and they
both grew tender and merry, recalling the babyhood times.


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