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   Chapter 24 THE PURSE-PROUD MAN.

Old Fritz and the New Era By L. Muhlbach Characters: 30833

Updated: 2017-11-29 00:02


"Trude, is there no news from him yet? Have you never seen him since? Did he not tell you about it?"

"No, my dearest Marie," sighed old Trude. "There is no word, no message from him. I have been twenty times to the baker's in eight days, and waited at the corner of the street, where we agreed to meet, but no Moritz was there, and I have not been able to hear any thing about him."

"Something must have happened to him," sighed Marie. "He is very ill, perhaps dying, and-"

"No, no, my child, he is not ill, I will tell you all about it, if you will not worry. I have been to Herr Moritz's lodgings to-day. I could not wait any longer, and-"

"Did you see him, and speak with him, Trude?"

"No Marie, he was not there; and the people in the house told me that he had been gone for a week."

"Gone!" repeated Marie, thoughtfully. "What does it mean? What could persuade him to abandon me in this hour of need? Tell me, Trude, what do you think? Console me if you can. You really know nothing further than that he is gone?"

"A little bit more, but not much, my heart's child. When the people told me that he had disappeared eight days ago, it seemed as if one of the Alps had fallen on my heart, and my limbs trembled so I could go no farther, and I was obliged to sit down upon the stairs and cry bitterly, picturing all sorts of dreadful things to myself."

"Dreadful things?" asked Marie. "Oh, Trude, you do not believe that my good, brave Moritz could do any thing sinful and cowardly, like wicked men? You do not think that my beloved-oh, no, no-I know that he is more noble; he will bear the burden of life as I will, so long as it pleases God."

The old woman hung down her head, and humbly folded her hands. "Forgive me, my child, that I have such weak and sinful thoughts. I will apologize for them in my heart to you and your beloved so long as I live. After I had cried enough, I determined to go to the Gray Cloister, and beg the director to see me!"

"Did you see him to speak with him, dear good Trude?"

"Yes, dear child. I told him I was an aged aunt of Herr Moritz, who had come to Berlin to visit him; and finding that he was absent, I would like to know where he had gone, and, how long he would remain away."

"Oh, Trude, how clever you are, and how kindly you think of every thing!" cried Marie, embracing her old nurse, and kissing affectionately her sunburnt, wrinkled cheek. "What did he say?"

"He told me that Herr Moritz had begged permission to be absent fourteen days to take an urgent, unavoidable journey; that ten days had already expired, and he would soon return."

"Then he will be here in four days, and perhaps will bring hope and aid! He has gone to seek it; I know and I feel it, though I cannot divine where the assistance will come from. Oh, Trude, if I could only gain a favorable delay until Moritz returns!"

"Every thing is arranged," murmured Trude. "The marriage license is already made out, and Parson Dietrich has promised to be ready at any hour. Herr Ebenstreit has sent the money, doubling the amount required to the 'Invalids' Hospital' at Berlin, so that when the papers of nobility arrive, there-"

"Hush!" interrupted Marie, "do not speak of it. It is fearful to think of, and it crazes me to hear it. I will resort to every extreme. Since my father and mother are deaf to my entreaties, I will try to move him to pity. I have never been able to see him alone; my mother is watchful that an explanation should be impossible between us. I will implore this man to have pity upon me, and confide in him to whom they would sell me."

Trude shook her head mournfully. "I fear it will be in vain, dear child. This man has no heart. I have proved him, and I know it.-Hark the bell rings! Who can it be?"

Both stepped out of the little garret-room to peep over the banister. Since Marie had been betrothed to the rich banker Ebenstreit, the general had received from his kind wife a servant in pompous livery for his own service. This servant had already opened the door, and Marie heard him announce in a loud voice, "Herr Ebenstreit!"

"He!" Marie started back with horror. "He, so early in the morning! this is no accident, Trude. What does it mean? Hush! the servant is coming!"

"I will go down," whispered Trude; "perhaps I can hear something."

Trude hurried away as her young lady glided back into her room, and never glanced at the servant who sprang past her upon the stairs.

"He is a hypocrite and a spy; he has been hired to watch and observe my child, and he will betray her if he discovers any thing."

The servant announced, with respectful, humble mien, that Herr Ebenstreit had arrived, and Frau von Werrig desired her daughter to descend to the parlor.

"Very well-say that I will come directly."

The servant remained rubbing his hands in an undecided, embarrassed manner.

"Why do you not go down?" asked Marie. "Have you any thing further to tell me?"

"I would say," said he, spying about the room, as if he were afraid some one were listening, "that if a poor, simple man like myself could be useful to you, and you could confide in me your commissions, I should be too happy to prove to you that Carl Leberecht is an honest fellow, and has a heart, and it hurts his feelings to see the miss suffer so much."

"I thank you," said Marie, gently. "I am glad to feel that you have sympathy for me."

"If I can be of the least service to you, have the goodness to call me, and give me your commissions."

"Indeed I will, although I do not believe it practicable."

"I hope miss will not betray me to Frau von Werrig or old Trude."

"No, I promise you that, and here is my hand upon it."

The servant kissed the extended hand respectfully. "I will enter into the service of my young lady at once, and tell her she must prepare for the worst: Herr Ebenstreit just said, 'The diploma of nobility has arrived.'"

Marie turned deadly pale, and for an instant it seemed as if she would sink down from fright, but she recovered herself and conquered her weakness.

"Thank you, it is very well that I should know that; I will go down directly," said she.

With calm, proud bearing Marie entered the sitting-room of her parents, and returned the salutations of her betrothed, who hastened toward her with tender assiduity.

"My dear Marie," cried her mother, "I have the honor to present to you Herr Ebenstreit von Leuthen. The certificate of nobility arrived this morning."

"I congratulate you, mother-you have at last found the long-desired heir to your name."

"Congratulate me above all, my beautiful betrothed," said Herr Ebenstreit, in a hoarse, scarcely intelligible voice. "This title crowns all my wishes, as it makes me your husband. I came to beg, dear Marie, that our marriage should take place to-morrow, as there is nothing now to prevent."

"Sir," she proudly interrupted him, "have I ever permitted this familiar appellation?"

"I have allowed it," blurted out the general, packed in cushions in his roiling chair. "Proceed, my dear son."

The latter bowed with a grateful smile, and continued: "I would beg, my dear Marie, to choose whether our wedding-journey shall be in the direction of Italy, Spain, France, or wherever else it may please her."

"Is it thus arranged?" asked Marie. "Is the marriage to take place early to-morrow, and then the happy pair take a journey?"

"Yes," answered her mother, hastily, "it is so decided upon, and it will be carried out. You may naturally, my dear daughter, have some preference; so make it known-I am sure your betrothed will joyfully accord it."

"I will avail myself of this permission," she quietly answered. "I wish to have a private conversation with this gentleman immediately, and without witnesses."

"Oh, how unfortunate I am!" sighed Herr Ebenstreit. "My dear Marie asks just that which I unfortunately cannot grant her."

"What should prevent your fulfilling my wish?" asked Marie.

"My promise," he whined. "On the very day of my betrothal, I was obliged to promise my dear mother-in-law never to speak with you alone or correspond with my sweet lady-love."

"These are the rules of decency and of etiquette, which I hope my daughter will respect," said Frau von Werrig, in a severe tone. "No virtuous young girl would presume to receive her betrothed alone or exchange love-letters with him before marriage!"

"After the wedding there will be opportunities enough for such follies," grumbled the general.

"You may be sure that I shall use them, dear father," laughed Ebenstreit. "I would beg my respected mother to release me a half-hour from my oath to-day, that I may indulge the first expressed wish that my future wife favors me with."

"It is impossible, my son. I never deviate from my principles. You will not speak with my daughter before marriage, except in the presence of her parents."

"Mother, do you insist upon it?" cried Marie, terrified. "Will you not indulge this slight wish?"

"'This slight wish!'" sneered her mother. "As if I did not know why you ask this private conversation. You wish to persuade our son-in-law to what you in vain have tried to implore your parents to do. A modest maiden has nothing to say to her future husband, which her parents, and above all her mother, could not hear. So tell your betrothed what you desire."

"Well, mother, you must then take the consequences.-Herr Ebenstreit, they will force me to become your wife, they will sell me as merchandise to you, and you have accepted the bargain in good faith, believing that I agree to sacrifice my freedom and human rights for riches. They have deceived you, sir! I am not ready to give myself up to the highest bidder. I am a woman, with a heart to love and hate, who esteems affection superior to wealth. I cannot marry you, and I beg you not to teach me to hate you."

A savage curse broke forth from the general, who, forgetting his gout, rose furious, shaking his clinched fist at his daughter.

His wife was immediately by his side, and pushed him into his arm-chair, commanding him, in her harsh, cold to remain quiet and take care of his health, and listen to what his son-in-law had to say to his unfeeling and unnatural daughter. "He alone has to decide.-Speak, my dear son," said she, turning to the young man, who, with a malicious smile, had listened to the baroness, fixing his dull-blue eyes upon the young girl, who never seemed so desirable to him, as she now stood before him with glowing cheeks.

"Again I say, speak, my dear son, and tell my daughter the truth; do you hear, the truth?"

"If you will permit me, my dearest mother, I will," answered Ebenstreit, with submissive kindness, again regarding the daughter. "You have made me a sad confession, Marie," said he, sighing, "but I will acknowledge that I am not surprised, for your mother told me when I asked for your hand, that she feared I should never gain your consent, for you did not love me, although she herself, and the general, would grant theirs."

"Was that all that I told you?" asked the mother, coldly.

"No, not all," continued Ebenstreit, slightly inclining; "you added, 'My daughter loves a beggar, a poor school-master, and she entertains the romantic idea of marrying him.'"

"And what did you reply?" asked Marie, almost breathless.

"My dear Marie, I laughed, repeating my proposal of marriage to your mother, saying, that I was ready to take up the combat with the poor pedagogue, and that you seemed all the more interesting and amiable for this romantic love. Life is so tedious and wretched, that one is glad to have some change and distraction. I assure you, I have not been so entertained for long years, as in the last fourteen days in this silent war with you. It amuses me infinitely to see you so stubborn and prudish, and increases my love for you. How could it be otherwise? The rich banker, Ebenstreit, has never seen a woman who was not ready to accept his hand, and why should he not love the first one who resists it? You have excited my self-love and vanity. You have made the marriage a matter of ambition, and you will comprehend that my answer is: 'Fraulein von Leuthen must and shall be my wife, no matter what it costs me. She defies my riches and despises money, so I will force her to respect my wealth and recognize its power. Besides, she is a cruel, egotistical daughter; who has no pity for her poor parents, and is capable of seeing them perish for her foolish attachment. I will make her a good child, and force her to make her parents, and thereby herself, happy.' All this I said to myself, and I have acted and shall act accordingly. I have only to add that the ceremony will take place to-morrow, at eleven. We will leave immediately after. Have the goodness therefore to choose in which direction, that I may at once make the necessary arrangements."

"Lost-lost without hope!" cried Marie, in anguish, covering her face with her hands.

"Rather say rescued from misfortune," answered Ebenstreit, quietly. "Believe me, there is but one sorrow that may not be borne, may not be conquered, and that is poverty, which is a corroding, consuming malady, annihilating body, and soul, swifter and surer than the most subtle poison. It stifles all noble feelings, all poetical thoughts and great deeds, and, believe me, love even cannot resist its terrible power. One day you will understand this. I will be patient and indulgent, and await it with hope."

"Oh, what a noble and high-minded man!" cried the mother, with emphasis.-"Marie should kneel and thank her Maker for such a magnanimous savior and lover, who will shield her from all evil and misfortune."

Sobbing and sighing, the daughter had stood with her face concealed; now she regarded the cold-hearted, smiling woman, with flashing eyes and keen contempt.

"Thank him!" she cried; "no, I accuse, I curse him. He is an atheist, and denies love. He is not capable of a noble thought or action, scorning and defaming all that is beautiful and elevated, worshipping only mammon. I will never marry him. You may force me to the altar, and there I will denounce him."

"She will kill me," cried the general; "she will murder her aged parents, leaving them to starve and perish, and-"

"Silence!" commanded his wife. "Leave off your complaints, she is not worth the tears or remonstrances of her parents. She would try to be our murderess, but she shall not.-My son, inform her of your decision. Answer her."

"The response to your romantic language is simple and natural, my dear Marie. I have already entered into your feelings, and am prepared for this idea of refusing your lover at the altar, which is found in novels, and I supposed that it might occur to you. Money compasses all things and according to our wishes. My fortune procures for me a dispensation from public authorities to be married here in the house of our dear parents. The law demands four witnesses, who will be represented by your parents, my servant Philip, and the sacristan whom the clergyman will bring."

"And they will hear me abjure you."

"It is very possible, dearest, but the witnesses will not listen to you. Money makes the deaf to hear, and the hearing ones deaf. Old parson Dietrich knows the story of your love, and believes, with us, that it is a malady that

you must be cured of. Therefore, in pity to you, he will not listen, and the others are paid to keep silent."

"Is there no hope, O Heaven?" cried Marie, imploringly. "O God, Thou hast permitted it-hast Thou no pity in my need, and sendest me no aid?" Rushing to her father, and kneeling at his feet, she continued: "Have mercy upon your poor child! You are an old man, and may live but a few years; do not burden your conscience with the fearful reproaches of your only child, whom you will condemn to an inconsolably long and unhappy life."

"Have you no pity yourself? Do you not know that I, your father, am so poor, that I have not even the necessary care? You wish your parents to sacrifice themselves for you, and suffer want! No, the daughter should sacrifice herself for her parents."

"A beautiful sacrifice, a fine sorrow!" sneered her mother. "She will be a rich woman, and have the most splendid house and furniture and most costly equipage in Berlin!"

"And a husband who adores her," cried Ebenstreit, "and who will feel it his duty to make her and her parents happy. Resolve bravely to bury the past, and look the immutable future joyfully in the face. Eleven will be the happy hour; fear not that the altar will not be worthy the charming bride of such a rich family. Money will procure every thing, and I will send a florist who will change this room into a blooming temple, fit to receive the goddess of love. In your room you will find the gift of my affection, a simple wedding-dress, which I trust you will approve of. Oh, do not shake your head, do not say that you will never wear it; you must believe that all resistance is in vain. You will become my wife, I and my money will it."

"And I," cried Marie, standing before him pale and defiant, regarding him with unspeakable contempt, "I and my love will it not. May God judge between us! May He forgive those who have brought this misfortune upon me! I can only say, 'Woe to them!'"

"Woe to you!" cried her mother. "Woe to the seducer who has persuaded our child to sin and crime, and-"

"Hush mother! I will not permit you to slander him whom I love, and ever shall, so long-"

"Until you forget him, and love me, Marie," said Ebenstreit. Approaching her, he seized her hand, and pressed a kiss upon it.

She drew it away with disgust, and turned slowly to the door, tossing back her head proudly. "Where are you going?" demanded her mother.

With her hand upon the knob, she replied, turning her pale, wan face to her mother, "To my own room, which I suppose is permitted to me, as there is nothing more to be said."

Her mother would reply, and retain her, but her son-in-law held her gently back. "Let her go," said he; "she needs rest for composure and to accustom herself to the thought that her fate is unavoidable."

"But what if she should resort to desperate means in her mad infatuation and foolish passion? Some one must watch her continually, for she may try to elope."

"You are right, dearest mother, some one must be with her, in whom she will confide. Would it not be possible to win old Trude?"

"No, nothing would gain her; she is a silly fool, who thinks only Marie is of consequence."

Ebenstreit shrugged his shoulders. "That means that she would sell herself at a high price. I beg that you will send for her."

"You will see," said she, calling the old woman, who entered from the opposite door.

Trude looked about, scowling and grumbling. "Leberecht told me my mistress called me."

"Why do you then look so furious, and what are you seeking on the table?" asked Frau von Werrig.

"My money," cried Trude, vehemently. "I thought that you called me to pay me, and that my wages were all counted out on the table. But I see there is nothing there, and I fear I shall get none, and be poor as a church-mouse all my life long. Your honor promised me positively that, as soon as the wedding was decided upon, you would pay me every farthing, with interest, and I depended upon it."

"You shall have all, and much more than the general's wife promised you, if you will be a true and faithful servant to us," said Ebenstreit.

"That I always have been, and ever shall be," snarled Trude. "No person can say aught against me. Now, I want my money."

"And obstinate enough you have been too," said her mistress. "Can you deny that you have not always taken my daughter's part?"

"I do not deny it. I have nursed her from childhood, and I love her as my own child, and would do any thing to make her happy!"

"Do you believe, Trude," cried the general, "that Marie could be happy with that poor, starving wretch of a school-master? Has she not experienced in her own home the misfortune and shame of poverty?"

"I know it well," sighed the old one, sadly, "and it has converted me to believe that it would be a great misfortune for Marie to marry the poor school-master."

"Well, will you then faithfully help us to prevent it?" quickly asked Ebenstreit.

"How can I do it?" she sighed, shrugging her shoulder.

"You can persuade my daughter to be reasonable, and yield to that which she cannot prevent. You are the only one who can make any impression upon Marie, as she confides in you. Watch her, that in a moment of passionate desperation she does not commit some rash act. You can tell us, further, what she says, and warn us of any crazy plan she might form to carry out her own will."

"That is to say, I must betray my Marie?" cried Trude, angrily.

"No, not betray, but rescue her. Will you do it?" asked Ebenstreit.

"I wish to be paid my wages, my two hundred thalers, that I have honestly earned, and I will have them."

Ebenstreit took a piece of paper from his pocket. Writing a few lines with a pencil, he laid it upon the table. "If you will take this to my cashier after the ceremony to-morrow, he will pay you four hundred thalers."

"Four hundred thalers in cash," cried Trude, joyfully clapping her hands. "Shall all that beautiful money be mine, and-No, I do not believe you," she cried, her face reassuming its gloomy, suspicious look. "You promise it to me to-day, that I may assist you, and persuade Marie to the marriage, but to-morrow, when old Trude is of no more use, you will send me away penniless. Oh, I know how it is. I have lived long enough to understand the tricks of rich people. I will see the cash first-only for that will I sell myself."

"The old woman pleases me," said Ebenstreit. "She is practical, and she is right.-If I promise you the money in an hour, will you persuade Marie to cease her foolish resistance, and be my wife? Will you watch over her, and tell us if any thing unusual occurs?"

"Four hundred thalers is a pretty sum," repeated Trude, in a low voice to herself. "I might buy myself a place in the hospital, and have enough left to get me a new bed and neat furniture and-"

Here her voice was lost in unintelligible mumbling, and, much excited, she appeared to count eagerly. With her bony forefinger she numbered over the fingers of her left hand, as if each were a fortune that she must verify and examine.

The mother and the banker regarded each other with mocking looks; the general looked at the money, grumbling: "If I had had four hundred thalers the last time I played, I could have won back my money in playing again."

"Old woman," said Ebenstreit, "have you not finished with your reckoning?"

"Yes," she said, with an exultant laugh, "I have done! Four hundred thalers are not sufficient. I must have five, and if you will give them to me in cash in an hour, then I will do every thing that you wish, and persuade Marie to the marriage. I will watch her day and night, and tell you every thing that she says and does. But I must have five hundred in cash!"

Ebenstreit turned his dull-blue eyes to Frau von Werrig with a triumphant smile. "Did you not tell me the old woman could not be bought? I knew that I was right. You did not offer her money enough; she will sell herself dear as possible."

"Yes, as dear as she can," laughed Trude-"five hundred is my price."

"You shall have it in cash in an hour," said Ebenstreit, in a friendly manner.

"So much money," whined the general; "it would have saved me if I had had it that last time."

"My son-in-law, I must confess you are exceedingly generous," remarked the mother.

"No sum would be too great to assure me my bride. Go now, Trude, you shall have the money in time.-Will you allow me, father, to send your servant to my office for it?"

"Send Leberecht here, Trude!"

The old woman hurried out of the room, but the door once closed, her manner changed. One might have supposed a sudden cramp had seized her, from her distorted face, and twitching and panting, and beating the air with her clinched fists, and her quivering lips uttering broken words.

Approaching footsteps warned her to assume her general manner and expression, and cease her manipulations. "The ladies and gentlemen wish you in the parlor," mumbled Trude to the servant descending the stairs. "But where have you been, and what have you to do up there?"

"I was looking for you, lovely one-nothing more!"

"Well, now you have found me, tell me what you want? I know you were sneaking about, listening, because you thought I was with Marie. I understand you better than you think I do. I have found many a viper, and I am familiar with their aspect. Go! they are waiting for you, and let me find you again spying about, and I will throw a pail of water on you!"

With this friendly assurance Trude dismissed Leberecht, and hastened with youthful activity to the little garret-room, when Marie fell upon her neck, weeping bitterly.

"Calm yourself-do not weep so-it breaks my heart, my dear child."

"And mine cannot break. I must endure all this anguish and survive this shame. Help me, my good mother, stand by me! It is impossible for me to marry that dreadful man. I have sworn constancy to my beloved Moritz, and I must be firm, or die!"

"Die? then you will kill me!" murmured the old one, "for, if you go, I must go also. But we will not give up yet, as we are both living; we will not despair for life. I am going once more to Moritz's lodgings; it may be he has returned, and will rescue you."

"Oh, do, good Trude; tell him that I have courage and determination to risk and bear every thing-that I will await him; that nothing would be too difficult or dangerous to serve to unite me to him! Tell him that I prefer a life of poverty and want by his side, to abundance and riches in a splendid palace with that detested creature-but no, say nothing about it, he knows it well! If he has returned, tell him all that has happened, and that I am resolved to brave the utmost, to save myself!"

"I will go, dear child, but I have first my work to do, and enough of it too-but listen to what they have made me become." Hastily, in a low voice, she related to Marie the story of her corruption, excited as before, her limbs shaking and her fists clinched. "They say we old women resemble cats, but from to-day forth I know that is a shameful lie! If I had possessed their nature and claws, I should have sprung at the throat of this rascal, and torn out his windpipe; but, instead of that, I stood as if delighted with his degrading proposal! Oh, fie! the good-for-nothing kidnapper would tempt a poor creature! Let us wait, they will get their reward. He shall pay me the five hundred thalers, and then this trader of hearts shall recognize that, however much ill-earned money he may throw away, love and constancy are hot to be bought. We will teach him a lesson," and with this, the old servant ceased, gasping for breath.

"Go now, Trude, and learn if he has returned; upon him depends my happiness, and life even-he is my last hope!"

"I am going, but first I would get the wages of my sin, and play the hypocrite, and tell a few untruths; then I will go to Moritz's lodgings, and the baker also. Do not despair; I have a joyful presentiment that God will have pity upon us and send us aid." Trude kissed and embraced her child, and scarcely waited an hour, when she was demanded in the parlor to receive her money.

Herr Ebenstreit was heartily delighted with her zealous impatience, and handed her ten rolls of gold, reminding her of the conditions.

"I have already consoled her a little, and she begins to change. I hope every thing will turn for good. Just leave her alone with me."

"But first, I must go and see my aged brother, who will take care of my money," replied Trude. "He is a safe man and will not spend it."

"Trude," cried the general, "what an old fool! to seek at distance what is so near you. I will take your money, and give you interest. Do you hear? I will take care of it!"

"Thank you, general, I'd rather give it to my brother, on account of the relationship." She slipped out of the room, hid the money in her bed, and hurriedly left the house.

Scarcely an hour passed ere Trude returned as fleetly as she went. She cast only a look into the kitchen, and hastened up to Marie's room. Her success was evident in her happy, smiling face, and coming home she had repeated to herself, "How happy Marie will be!" almost the entire way.

She had but closed the door, when the mean little Leberecht glided from behind the chimney, and crept to listen at the door.

Within was a lively conversation, and twice a shout of joy was heard and Marie, exultant, cried, "Oh, Trude! dear Trude! all goes well, I fear nothing now. God has sent me the savior which I implored!"

Leberecht stood, bent over, applying his ear to the keyhole, listening to every word.

Oh, Trude! if you could only have seen the traitor, glued to the door, with open eyes and mouth! Could you have seen the eavesdropper rubbing his hands together, grinning, and listening in breathless suspense!

Why cannot you surprise him, Trude, and fulfil your threat to deluge him and chase him away from your child's door? They forgot the necessity of prudence, and the possibility of being overheard. At last it occurred to the old servant, and she tore open the door, but no one was there-it was deserted and still.

"God be thanked, no one has listened," whispered Trude. "I will go down and tell them that I hope, if we can stay alone all day, you will be calmer and more reasonable."

"Do it, Trude; I do not dare to see any one for fear my face will betray me, and my mother has very sharp eyes. Return soon."

She opened the door, and saw not the eavesdropper and spy, who had but just time to conceal himself, and stand maliciously grinning at the retreating figure of the faithful servant.

He slipped lightly from his hiding-place down to his sleeping-room, in a niche under the stairs. For a long time he reflected, upon his bedside-his watery blue eyes staring at nothing. "This must be well considered," he mumbled. "There is, at last, a capital to be won. Which shall I do first, to grasp a good deal? Shall I wait, or go at once to Herr Ebenstreit? Very naturally they would both deny it, and say that I had made up the whole story to gain money. I had better let the affair go on: they can take a short drive, and when they are about an hour absent, I will sell my secret at a higher price. Now I will pretend to be quite harmless, and after supper let the bomb burst!"

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