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Waldfried A Novel   By: (1812-1882)

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W A L D F R I E D

A N O V E L

BY

BERTHOLD AUERBACH

T R A N S L A T E D

BY

SIMON ADLER STERN

AUTHOR'S EDITION

NEW YORK HENRY HOLT AND COMPANY 1874

Entered according to Act of Congress, in the year 1874, by HENRY HOLT, In the Office of the Librarian of Congress, at Washington.

Maclauchlan, Stereotyper and Printer, 56, 58 and 60 Park Street, New York.

WALDFRIED.

BOOK FIRST.

CHAPTER I.

In a letter bringing me his greetings for the New Year, 1870, my eldest son thus wrote to me from America:

"We have been sorely tried of late. Wolfgang, our only remaining child, lay for weeks at death's door. I avoided mentioning this to you before; but now he is out of danger.

"'Take me to your father in the forest,' were the first distinct words he uttered after his illness. He is a lusty youth, and inherits his mother's hardy Westphalian constitution.

"In his feverish wanderings, he often spoke of you, and also of a great fire, in strange phrases, none of which he can now recall.

"He has awakened my own heartfelt desire to return, and now we shall come. We have fully determined to leave in the spring. I lose no time in writing to you of this, because I feel that the daily thought of our meeting again will be fraught with pleasure for both of us.

"Ah, if mother were still alive! Oh, that I had returned in time to have seen her!

"Telegraph to me as soon as you receive tidings of brother Ernst. I am anxious once again to behold Germany, which is at last becoming a real nation. We who are out here in America are beginning to feel proud of our Fatherland.

"We are surely coming! Pray send word to my brothers and sisters.

"YOUR SON LUDWIG."

The postscript was as follows:

"DEAR FATHER, I shall soon be able to utter those dear words to you in person.

"YOUR DAUGHTER CONSTANCE."

"DEAR GRANDFATHER, I can now write again, and my first words are to you. We shall soon join you at 'grandfather's home.'

"YOUR GRANDSON WOLFGANG."

I had not seen Ludwig since the summer of 1849, and now I was to see him, his wife, and his son. I instructed Martella to send the news to my children and sons in law; and to my sister who lives in the Hagenau forest I wrote in person.

Joyous answers were returned from every quarter. But the happiest of all was Rothfuss, our head servant. And well he might be, for no one had loved and suffered so much for Ludwig's sake as he had done.

Rothfuss is my oldest companion. We have known each other so long that, last spring, we might have celebrated the fiftieth anniversary of our first meeting. When that occurred, we were both of the same age he a soldier in the fortress in which I was confined as a political prisoner. For one hour every day I was permitted to leave my cell for a short walk on the parapet. On those occasions a soldier with loaded musket walked behind me; and it often happened that this duty was assigned to Rothfuss. His orders were not to speak to me; but he did so, nevertheless. He was constantly muttering to himself in an indistinct manner. This habit of talking to himself has clung to him through life, and I doubt if any human being has a greater fund of curses than he.

One day, while he was thus walking behind me, I heard him say quite distinctly: "Now I know who you are! Oh!" and then came fearful oaths "O! to imprison such a man! You are the son of the forest keeper of our district! Why, we are from the very same part of the country! I have often worked with your father... Continue reading book >>




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