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          Thus thrilled the mournful strain
With varying cadence, till the stars grew dim,
And the grey dawn released my soul again
          From that sad-sighing hymn.


THERE is a mill by the Neckar-side, to which
many people resort for coffee, according to the
fashion which is almost national in Germany.
There is nothing particularly attractive in the
situation of this mill; it is on the Mannheim
(the flat and unromantic) side of Heidelberg.
The river turns the mill-wheel with a plenteous
gushing sound; the out-buildings and the
dwelling-house of the miller form a well-kept
dusty quadrangle. Again, further from the river,
there is a garden full of willows, and arbours,
and flower-beds, not well kept, but very profuse
in flowers and luxuriant creepers, knotting and
looping the arbours together. In each of these
arbours is a stationary table of white painted
wood, and light movable chairs of the same
colour and material.

I went to drink coffee there with some friends
in 184—. The stately old miller came out to
greet us, as some of the party were known to
him of old. He was of a grand build of a man,
and his loud musical voice, with its tone friendly
and familiar, his rolling laugh of welcome, went
well with the keen bright eye, the fine cloth of
his coat, and the general look of substance about
the place. Poultry of all kinds abounded in the
mill-yard, where there were ample means of
livelihood for them strewed on the ground; but
not content with this, the miller took out handfuls
of corn from the sacks, and threw liberally
to the cocks and hens that ran almost under his
feet in their eagerness. And all the time he
was doing this, as it were habitually, he was
talking to us, and ever and anon calling to his
daughter and the serving-maids, to bid them
hasten the coffee we had ordered. He followed
us to an arbour, and saw us served to his
satisfaction with the best of everything we could ask
for; and then left us to go round to the different
arbours and see that each party was properly
attended to; and, as he went, this great,
prosperous, happy-looking man whistled softly one
of the most plaintive airs I ever heard.

"His family have held this mill ever since the
old Palatinate days; or rather, I should say, have
possessed the ground ever since then, for two
successive mills of theirs have been burnt down
by the French. If you want to see Scherer in
a passion, just talk to him of the possibility of
a French invasion."

But at this moment, still whistling that
mournful air, we saw the miller going down the
steps that led from the somewhat raised garden
into the mill-yard; and so I seemed to have
lost my chance of putting him in a passion.

We had nearly finished our coffee, and our
"kucken," and our cinnamon cake, when heavy
splashes fell on our thick leafy covering;
quicker and quicker they came, coming through
the tender leaves as if they were tearing them
asunder; all the people in the garden were
hurrying under shelter, or seeking for their
carriages standing outside. Up the steps the
miller came hastening, with a crimson umbrella,
fit to cover every one left in the garden, and
followed by his daughter, and one or two
maidens, each bearing an umbrella.

"Come into the housecome in, I say. It
is a summer-storm, and will flood the place for
an hour or two, till the river carries it away.
Here, here."

And we followed him back into his own house.
We went into the kitchen first. Such an array
of bright copper and tin vessels I never saw;
and all the wooden things were as thoroughly
scoured. The red tile floor was spotless when
we went in, but in two minutes it was all over
slop and dirt with the tread of many feet; for
the kitchen was filled, and still the worthy
miller kept bringing in more people under his
great crimson umbrella. He even called the
dogs in, and made them lie down under the

His daughter said something to him in German,
and he shook his head merrily at her. Everybody

"What did she say?" I asked.

"She told him to bring the ducks in next; but
indeed if more people come we shall be suffocated.
What with the thundery weather, and the stove,
and all these steaming clothes, I really think we
must ask leave to pass on. Perhaps we might
go in and see Frau Scherer."

My friend asked the daughter of the house for
permission to go into an inner chamber and see
her mother. It was granted, and we went into
a sort of salon, overlooking the Neckar; very
small, very bright, and very close. The floor
was slippery with polish; long narrow pieces
of looking-glass against the walls reflected the
perpetual motion of the river opposite; a white
porcelain stove, with some old-fashioned
ornaments of brass about it; a sofa, covered with
Utrecht velvet, a table before it, and a piece of
worsted-worked carpet under it; a vase of
artificial flowers; and, lastly, an alcove with a bed
in it, on which lay the paralysed wife of the
good miller, knitting busily, formed the furniture.
I spoke as if this was all that was to be
seen in the room; but, sitting quietly, while my
friend kept up a brisk conversation in a language
which I but half understood, my eye was caught
by a picture in a dark corner of the room, and I
got up to examine it more nearly.

It was that of a young girl of extreme beauty;
evidently of middle rank. There was a sensitive
refinement in her face, as if she almost shrank
from the gaze which, of necessity, the painter
must have fixed upon her. It was not over-well
painted, but I felt that it must have been a good
likeness, from this strong impress of peculiar
character which I have tried to describe. From
the dress, I should guess it to have been painted
in the latter half of the last century. And I
afterwards heard that I was right.

There was a little pause in the conversation.

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