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   Chapter 4 GERMAN STORIES.

ZigZag Journeys in Northern Lands; By Hezekiah Butterworth Characters: 21991

Updated: 2017-12-06 00:03


The Story of the Emperor William.-The Story of "Sneeze with Delight."-Poem-Stories.

T the first meeting of the Club to study the history and to relate stories of the Rhine and the North, Master Lewis was present, and, after the preliminary business had been transacted, said that he had some suggestions in mind which he wished to make.

"I notice," he said, "that many of you have been obtaining from the Boston Public Library English translations of the works of Hauff, Hoffman, Baron de La Motte Fouqué, Grimm, Schiller, and Tieck, and I think that there is danger that story-reading and story-telling may occupy too much of your time and thought. Let me propose that a brief history of each author be given with the story at the meetings of the Club, so that you may at least obtain some knowledge of German literature."

The suggestion met with the approval of all, and it was voted that at future meetings the biographies of authors should be given with the stories, and that only the stories of the best authors should be selected, except in the case of legends of places.

"I have another proposal to make," said Master Lewis. "You are not very familiar with German politics. Suppose you let me give you from time to time some short talks about the German Government and its ministers,-King William, Count Bismarck, and Count Von Moltke."

This kind offer was received with cheers and placed upon record with thanks.

"Perhaps you may be willing to open our exercises to-night with one of the talks you have planned," said the President. "It would be a helpful beginning, which we would appreciate."

"I am not as well prepared as I would like," said the teacher; "but as I believe in making a first meeting of this kind a sort of a model in its plan and purpose, I will in a free way tell you something of

THE STORY OF THE EMPEROR WILLIAM.

The life of the Emperor of Germany has been full of thrilling and dramatic scenes.

When he was a boy, Germany-the great Germany of Charlemagne-was divided into states, each having its own ruler. His father was Frederick William III., King of Prussia, and his mother was Louise, an excellent woman; his youth was passed amid the excitements of Napoleon's conquests. Russia and Prussia combined against Napoleon; Russia was placed at a disadvantage in two doubtful battles, when she deserted the Prussian cause, and made a treaty of peace.

Napoleon then sent for the King of Prussia, to tell him what he would leave him.

The lovely Queen Louise went with the unfortunate king to meet the French conqueror, hoping thereby to obtain more favorable terms. But Napoleon treated her with scorn, boasting that he was like "waxed cloth to rain."

He, however, offered the queen a rose, in a softer moment.

"Yes," said Louise, thinking of her kingdom, "but with Magdeburg."

"It is I who give, and you who take," answered Napoleon haughtily.

Napoleon took away from Prussia all the lands on the Elbe and the Rhine, and, uniting these to other German states, formed a kingdom for his brother Jerome.

The good Queen Louise pined away with grief and shame at her country's losses, and died two years after of a broken heart. So the boyhood of William was very sad.

It is said that children fulfil the ideals of their mothers. Poor Louise little thought that her second son would one day be crowned Emperor of all Germany in the palace of the French kings at Versailles.

William was born in 1797; he ascended the throne as King of Prussia in 1861. How widely these dates stand apart!

On the day of his coronation as King of Prussia, he exhibited his own character and religious faith by putting the crown on his own head. "I rule," he said, "by the favor of God and no one else."

Under his vigorous rule Prussia grew in military power, and excited the jealousy of the French people. Napoleon III., on a slight pretext, declared war with Prussia. In this war Prussia was victorious.

A MEMORABLE HOUR.

That was indeed a memorable hour in the emperor's life when he met the fallen Emperor of the French in the Chateau Bellevue, on a hill of the Meuse overlooking Sedan. The king and the emperor had met before; they then were equals, brother rulers of two of the most powerful nations on earth. They met now as conqueror and captive, and the one held the fate of the other in his hands.

"We were both moved at seeing each other again under such circumstances," said King William. "I had seen Napoleon only three years before, at the summit of his power. What my feelings were is more than I can describe."

The king spoke first.

"God has given victory to me in the war that has been declared against me."

"The war," said Napoleon, "was not sought by me. I did not desire it. I declared it in obedience to the public sentiment of France."

"Your Majesty," said the king, "made the war to meet public opinion; but your ministers created that public opinion."

"Your artillery, sire, won the battle. The Prussian artillery is the finest in the world."

"Has your Majesty any conditions to propose?"

"None: I have no power; I am a prisoner."

"Where is the government in France with which I can treat?"

"In Paris: the empress and the ministers. I am powerless."

King William, as you know, marched to Paris, and at last made conditions of peace almost as hard as Napoleon I. had made with his father. The German princes in his hour of victory offered him the crown of Southern Germany, and he was crowned at Versailles, in the great hall of mirrors, Emperor of Germany.

Let me now speak of the kaiser's

MILITARY CAREER.

It is rare that men and women live to celebrate their seventy-fifth birthday. The age allotted to mortals by the Psalmist is threescore and ten.

THE EMPEROR WILLIAM AND NAPOLEON III.

But the hale old Emperor of Germany has not only recently commemorated the completion of his eighty-sixth year, but-what is still more striking-at the same time marked the seventy-sixth year of his service as an officer in the Prussian army.

It is related that, on the 22d of March, 1807, on which day William was just ten years old, his father, then King of Prussia, called him into his study and said,-

"My son, I appoint you an officer in my army. You will serve in Company No. 1 of the First Guard Regiment."

The little prince drew himself up, gave his father a prompt military salute, and retired. An hour later he reappeared before the king, attired in the uniform of his new rank; and, repeating the salute, announced to his royal father that "he was ready for duty."

WILLIAM BEFORE HIS FATHER.

Even at so early an age, William was no fancy soldier, holding rank and title, and leaving to humbler officers the duties and hardships. He at once devoted himself to the task of a junior ensign; and from that time onward became an officer in truth, laboring zealously to master the military science, and rising step by step, not by favor, but by merit and seniority.

At the age of eighteen, William was in Blucher's army at Waterloo, taking an active part in the overthrow of Napoleon, and witnessing that mighty downfall. A little later, he was promoted to the rank of major for cool courage under heavy fire; and from that time on, for nearly half a century, William devoted himself wholly to the military profession.

When he ascended the Prussian throne, there was no more unpopular man in the kingdom. He had put down the revolutionary rising in Berlin with grim and relentless hand; and the people believed that their new monarch was a cruel and haughty tyrant.

It was not until after the great triumph over Austria, in 1866, that the Prussians began to discover that King William was not only a valiant soldier, but an ardent lover of his country, and a kind-hearted, whole-souled father of his people.

THE STATESMAN.

For the last sixteen years, no sovereign in Europe has been more devotedly beloved and revered by his subjects. Although William is autocratic, and believes in his "divine right" to rule as sturdily as did his medi?val ancestors, and has not a little contempt for popular clamors and popular rights, his reign has been on the whole brilliantly wise and successful. While this has been in a great measure due to the presence of a group of great men around him,-notably of Bismarck and Von Moltke,-the emperor himself has had no small share in promoting the power and towering fortunes of Germany.

His paternal ways with his people, his military knowledge, his fine, frank, hearty, chivalrous nature, his sound sense in the choice of his advisers, and his perception of the wisdom of their counsels, have much aided in raising Prussia and Germany to their present height in Europe.

KING WILLIAM'S HELMET.

Beneath his commanding and rugged exterior there beats a very kindly heart. Many incidents have been related to show the simple good-nature of his character. In his study, on the table at which he writes, there has long remained a rusty old cavalry helmet, the relic of some military association of the emperor.

Whenever the death-warrant of a condemned criminal is brought to him to sign, the emperor looks at it, and then slyly slips the fatal document under the helmet. Sometimes his ministers, anxious that the warrants should be signed, take occasion, in his absence from the study, to pull the papers out from beneath the helmet, just enough to catch their master's eye.

Most often, however William, on perceiving them, quietly pushes them back again, without a word. So great is his repugnance to dooming even a hardened criminal to death, by a mere scratch of his pen.

At eighty-six, the stalwart old kaiser cannot hope to dwell much longer among his people; but it will be very long before his fine qualities, soldierly courage, and affectionate nature will grow dim in the memory of the fatherland.

The stories related at this meeting were largely from Grimm and Fouqué, and are to be found in American books.

The most pleasing of the stories, told by Herman Reed, is not so well known, and we give it here.

SNEEZE WITH DELIGHT.

Many, many years ago there lived in an old German town a good cobbler and his wife. They had one child, Jamie, a handsome boy of some eight years. They were poor people; and the good wife, to help her husband, had a stall in the great market, where she sold fruit and herbs.

One day the cobbler's wife was at the market as usual, and her little boy was with her, when a strange old woman entered the stalls.

The woman hardly seemed human. She had red eyes, a wizened, pinched-up face, and her nose was sharp and hooked, and almost reached to her chin. Her dress was made up of rags and tatters. Never before had there entered the market such a repulsive-looking person.

"Are you Hannah the herb-woman?" she asked, bobbing her head to and fro. "Eh?"

"Yes."

"Let me see, let me see; you may have some herbs I want."

S

he thrust her skinny hands into the herbs, took them up and smelled of them, crushing them as she did so.

Having mauled them to her heart's content, she shook her head, saying,-

"Bad stuff; rubbish; nothing I want; rubbish, rubbish,-eh?"

"You are an impudent old hag," said the cobbler's boy, Jamie; "you have crushed our herbs, held them under your ugly nose, and now condemn them."

"Aha, my son, you do not like my nose,-eh? You shall have one, too, to pay for this,-eh?"

"If you want to buy anything, pray do so at once," said the cobbler's wife; "you are keeping other customers away."

"I will buy something," said the hag viciously; "I will buy. I will take these six cabbages. Six? That is more than I can carry, as I have to lean upon my stick. You must let your boy take them home for me."

This was but a reasonable request, and the cobbler's wife consented.

Jamie did as he was bid, and followed the hag to her home. It was a long distance there. At last the beldam stopped in an out-of-the-way part of the town, before a strange-looking house. She touched a rusty key to the door, which flew open, and, as the two entered, a most astonishing sight was revealed to Jamie's eyes.

The interior of the house was like a throne-room in a palace, the ceilings were of marble and gold, and the furniture was jewelled ebony.

The old woman took a silver whistle and blew it. Little animals-guinea pigs and squirrels-answered the call. They were dressed like children, and walked on two legs; they could talk and understand what was said to them. Was the beldam an enchantress, and were these little animals children, whom she had stolen and made victims of her enchantments?

"Sit down, child," said the old woman, in a soft voice, "sit down; you have had a heavy load to carry. Sit down, and I will make you a delicious soup; one that you will remember as long as you live. It will contain some of the herb for which I was looking in the market and did not find. Sit down."

The beldam hurried hither and thither, and with the help of the guinea pigs and squirrels quickly made the soup.

"There, my child, eat that. It contains the magic herb I could not find in the market. Why did your mother not have it? Whoever eats that will become a magic cook."

Jamie had never tasted such delicious soup. It seemed to intoxicate him. It produced a stupor. He felt a great change coming over him. He seemed to become one of the family of guinea pigs and squirrels, and, like them, to serve their mistress. Delightful little people they were,-he came to regard them as brothers; and time flew by.

Years flew by, and other years, when one day the dame took her crutch and went out. She left her herb-room open, and he went in. In one of the secret cupboards he discovered an herb that had the same scent as the soup he had eaten years before. He examined it. The leaves were blue and the blossoms crimson. He smelt of it.

He began to sneeze,-such a delightful sneeze! He smelt, and sneezed again. Suddenly he seemed to awake, as from a dream,-as though some strange enchantment had been broken.

"I must go home," he said. "How mother will laugh when I tell her my dream! I ought not to have gone to sleep in a strange house."

He went out into the street. The children and idlers began to follow him.

"Oho, oho! look, what a strange dwarf! Look at his nose! Never the like was seen before."

Jamie tried to discover the dwarf, but could not see him.

He reached the market. His mother was there, a sad old woman, in the same place. She seemed altered; looked many years older than when he left her. She leaned her head wearily on her hand.

"What is the matter, mother dear?" he asked.

She started up.

"What do you want of me, you poor dwarf? Do not mock me. I have had sorrow, and cannot endure jokes."

"But, mother, what has happened?"

He rushed towards her to embrace her, but she leaped into the air.

The market-women came to her and drove him away.

He went to his father's cobbler's shop. His father was there, but he looked like an old man.

"Good gracious! what is that?" said he wildly, as Jamie appeared.

"How are you getting on, master?" asked Jamie.

"Poorly enough. I'm getting old, and have no one to help me."

"Have you no son?"

"I had one, years ago."

MOUNTAIN SCENE IN GERMANY.

"Where is he now?"

"Heaven only knows. He was kidnapped one market-day, seven years ago."

"Seven years ago!"

Jamie turned away. The people on the street stared at him, and the ill-bred children followed him. He chanced to pass a barber's shop, where was a looking-glass in the window. He stopped and saw himself.

The sight filled him with terror. He was a dwarf, with a nose like that of the strange old woman.

What should he do?

He remembered that the old woman had said that the eating of the magic soup that contained the magic herb would make him a magic cook.

He went to the palace of the duke and inquired for the major domo. He was kindly received, as dwarfs are in such places, and he asked to be employed in the kitchen, and allowed to show his skill in preparing some of the rare dishes for the table.

No one in the ducal palace was able to produce such food as he. He was made chief cook in a little time, and enjoyed the duke's favor for two years. He grew fat, was honored at the great feasts, and became the wonder of the town.

Now happened the strangest thing of his strange life.

(Ye that have eyes, prepare to open them now.)

One morning he went to the goose market to buy some nice fat geese, such as he knew the duke would relish. He purchased a cage of three geese, but he noticed that one of the geese did not quack and gabble like the others.

"The poor thing must be sick," he said; "I will make haste to kill her."

To his great astonishment, the goose made answer:-

"Stop my breath,

And I will cause your early death."

Then he knew that the goose was some enchanted being, and he resolved to spare her life.

"You have not always had feathers on you, as now?" said the dwarf.

"No; I am Mimi, daughter of Waterbrook the Great."

"Prithee be calm; I will be your friend; I know how to pity you. I was once a squirrel myself."

Now the duke made a great feast, and invited the prince. The prince was highly pleased with the ducal dishes, and praised the cook.

"But there is one dish that you have not provided," said the prince.

"What is that?" asked the duke.

"Paté Suzerain."

The duke ordered the dwarf to make the rare dish for the next banquet.

The dwarf obeyed.

When the prince had tasted, he pushed it aside, and said,-

"There is one thing lacking,-one peculiar herb. It is not like that which is provided for my own table."

The duke, in a towering passion, sent for the dwarf.

"If you do not prepare this dish rightly for the next banquet," he said, "you shall lose your head."

Now the dwarf was in great distress, and he went to consult with the goose.

"I know what is wanting," said the goose; "it is an herb called Sneeze with Delight. I will help you find it."

The dwarf took the goose under his arm, and asked of the guard, who had been placed over him until he should prepare the dish, permission to go into the garden.

They were allowed to go. They searched in vain for a long time; but at last the goose spied the magic leaf across the lake, and swam across, and returned with it in her bill.

"'Tis the magic herb the old woman used in the soup," said the dwarf. "Thank the Fates! we may now be delivered from our enchantment."

He took a long, deep sniff of the herb. He then sneezed with delight, and lo! he began to grow, and his nose began to shrink, and he was transformed to the handsomest young man in all the land.

He took the goose under his arm, and walked out of the palace yard. He carried her to a great magician, who delivered her from her enchantment, and she sneezed three sneezes, and became the handsomest lady in all the kingdom.

Now, Mimi's father was very rich, and he loaded Jamie with presents, which were worth a great fortune.

Then handsome Jamie married the lovely Mimi; and he brought his old father and mother to live with them in a palace, and they were all exceedingly happy.

"What is the moral of such a tale as that?" asked one of the Club.

"If you have any crookedness, to find the magic herb," said Charlie.

Charlie Leland, the President, closed the exercises with some translations of his own, which he called "Stories in Verse." We give two of them here; each relates an incident of Eberhard, the good count, whom German poets have often remembered in song.

THE RICHEST PRINCE.

In a stately hall in the city of Worms,

A festive table was laid;

The lamps a softened radiance shed,

And sweet the music played.

Then the Saxon prince, and Bavaria's lord,

And the Palsgrave of the Rhine,

And Würtemberg's monarch, Eberhard,

Came into that hall to dine.

Said the Saxon prince, with pride elate,

"My lords, I have wealth untold:

There are gems in my mountain gorges great;

In my valleys are mines of gold."

"Thou hast boasted well," said Bavaria's lord,

"But mine is a nobler land:

I have famous cities, and castled towns,

And convents old and grand."

"And better still is my own fair land,"

Said the Palsgrave of the Rhine:

"There are sunny vineyards upon the hills;

In the valleys are presses of wine."

Then bearded Eberhard gently said,

"My lords, I have neither gold,

Nor famous cities, nor castled towns,

Nor convents grand and old.

"I have no vineyards upon the hills,

In the valleys no presses of wine;

But God has given a treasure to me

As noble as any of thine.

EBERHARD.

"I wind my horn on the rocky steep,

In the heart of the greenwood free,

And I safely lay me down and sleep

On any subject's knee."

Oh, then the princes were touched at heart,

And they said, in that stately hall,

"Thou art richer than we, Count Eberhard;

Thy treasure is greater than all."

EQUALITY.

The banners waved, the bugles rung,

The fight was hot and hard;

Beneath the walls of Doffingen,

Fast fell the ranks of Suabian men

Led on by Eberhard.

Count Ulric was a valiant youth,

The son of Eberhard;

The banners waved, the bugles rung,

His spearmen on the foe he flung,

And pressed them sore and hard.

"Ulric is slain!" the nobles cried,-

The bugles ceased to blow;

But soon the monarch's order ran:

"My son is as another man,

Press boldly on the foe!"

And fiercer now the fight began,

And harder fell each blow;

But still the monarch's order ran:

"My son is as another man,

Press, press upon the foe!"

Oh, many fell at Doffingen

Before the day was done;

But victory blessed the Suabian men,

And happy bugles played again,

At setting of the sun.

* * *

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