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An Idyl Of The East Side 1891   By: (1849-1913)

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By Thomas A. Janvier

Copyright, 1891, by Harper & Brothers

In the matter of raising canary birds at once strong of body and of note, tamed to associate with humanity on rarely friendly terms, and taught to sing with a sweetness nothing short of heavenly Andreas Stoffel was second to none. And this was not by any means surprising, for he had been born (and for its saintly patron had been christened) close by the small old town of Andreasberg: which stands barely within the verge of the Black Forest, on the southern declivity of the Harz and which, while famous for its mines, is renowned above all other cities for the excellence of the bird songsters which there and thereabouts are raised.

Canary birds had been the close companions of this good Andreas through all the fifty years of his lifetime. They had sung their sweet song of rejoicing at his birth when the storks had brought him one day, while his father was far underground at work in the mines, and was vastly well pleased, when he came home all grimy at night, to find what a brave boy God had sent him by these winged messengers. They had sung over his cradle as his mother, knitting, rocked it in the midst of the long patch of sunlight that came through the low, wide window of the bauernhaus the comfortable home with high peaked roof, partly thatched and partly shingled, and with great drooping eaves, that was nooked snugly on the warm southern slope of the Andreasberg beside a little stream.

[Illustration: High peaked roof, partly thatched 258]

They had sung him awake many and many a bright summer morning; and one of his tenderest memories of the time when he was a very little boy and was put to bed, as little boys should be, at sundown was of their faint, irregular, sleepy headed chirpings and twitterings as they settled themselves to slumber on their perches for the night.

And when the time came that Andreas, grown to man's estate, being one and twenty years old, but not to man's strength, for he was small of stature and frail, was left lonely in the world the good father killed by a rock fall in the mines, and the dear mother thereafter pining away from earth, and so to the heaven that gave her husband back to her it was his house mates the birds who did their best to cheer him with their songs. And presently, as it seemed to him, these songs began to tell of new happiness in a new home far away across the mountains and beyond the sea in that distant America where already his father's brother dwelt, and whereof he had heard wonderful stories of splendors and of riches incalculable all his life long. Indeed, the adventurous uncle had prospered amazingly in the twenty years of his American exile: rising, in due course, from the position of a young man of most promiscuous all work in a delicatessen shop in New York to the position of owner of the business, shop and all.

To go to a land where such things as this were possible seemed to Andreas most wise; and to be near his uncle, and the aunt and cousins whom he had never seen, his sole remaining kin, held out to him a pleasant promise of cheer and comfort in his loneliness.

But, in very truth, the sweet burden of the song of his birds was not born of thoughts of mere commonplace family affection and commonplace worldly wealth. Far more precious than these was the motive of the music that Andreas listened to and understood, and yet scarcely would acknowledge, even to himself; for in America it was that Christine now had her home and that which set his heartstrings a thrilling, as he listened to the song of his birds, was the deep, pure melody of love.

They had been children together, he and Christine, their homes side by side on the flanks of the Andreasberg; and when, three years before, she had gone with her father and her mother on the long journey westward, the heart of Andreas Stoffel had gone with her, and only his body was left behind among the mountains of the Harz... Continue reading book >>

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