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ever I could have made up my mind to have
him, his words to-day would have cured me of
such a notion."

This was not quite ingenuous on Kätchen's
part, seeing that she had found herself obliged
to refuse him long before he had spoken those
harsh words. I am sorry to have to record it,
but I am trying to describe her as she really
was. Besides, in her blind perversity, she
actually began to think herself ill used. Her father
fell into the snare, and, dropping his attitude of
attack, assumed the defensive, and commenced
to excuse and justify Ebner.

"Why, it's natural enough, too. What do
you think the man's made of? Angry! If a girl
had treated me so, after drawing me onâ??â??"

"I did not draw him on, father. I never had
any idea he wanted to marry me until he spoke.
Why, had you, yourself?"

"I told you I had. Of course I had. It
seems odd to me that you could be so blind.
You're quick enough generally. But all that is
nothing to the purpose. What I go upon is,
that you told me you would marry him. Told
me so, of your own will; and now you say 'no,'
without rhyme or reason. But I understand
well enough that that underhand fellow, Fitz
Rosenheim, is at the bottom of it."

And then he subsided into a growling, half-
audible tirade against Fritz; and Kätchen sat
silent and sullen by the stove, giving little heed
to her father's words, but brooding over her
own troubles.

The next day, Sunday, neither father nor
daughter went to Hallstadt to church. Ebner's
boatmen rowed up to the landing-place at the
Golden Lamb, but were thanked and dismissed.
Their master was not in the boat, but he was
above forbidding his servants to go for the
Kesters as usual. It was a dreary day within
and without the Golden Lamb. That grimy
quadruped creaked and moaned in the autumn
blast. A dry choking dust blew in clouds over
the empty desolate high road, and the lake wore
a livid hue, and broke with a dull splash on the
shore. Dusky and dreary the day had dawned,
dusky and dreary still it went down, with one
lurid line of crimson in the western sky. Josef
lit his pipe, and sat puffing cloud after cloud,
until the glow of the burning tobacco in his
pipe-bowl was the only thing visible in the dark
kitchen, except such streaks of light as
penetrated through the chinks of the stove. Kätchen
had taken out a hymn-book, and had read in
it mechanically while the daylight lasted, but
now she sat staring at her father's glowing pipe,
and letting her thoughts go whithersoever they
listed. And a wild dance they had of it, flying
off to the unlikeliest things and places, but
under all, like a pedal bass in a piece of music,
was the drowning sense of pain and unrest.

"Hulloa! Are you all asleep here? No
light? No welcome for a cold traveller?"

The cheery voice rang through the room, startling
its inmates as if a bombshell had burst in their
midst. Kätchen, whose nerves were unstrung,
gave a sharp squeak like a frightened mouse. Old
Josef started up, nearly oversetting his chair.

"Who's there?" said he. But he had known
the voice well enough.

"Who but I, Herr Landlord? Fritz Rosenheim,
at your service. Shall I light the lamp?
And where can I find a lantern? for I must
stable my beast. He's warm, and the breeze
from the lake cuts like a scythe."

Without waiting for permission, Fritz lit the
great old-fashioned oil-lamp that stood ready
trimmed on the dresser, and proceeded to search
for the lantern, like one who knew the house well.

"Stable your beast!" echoed Josef, recovering
himself a little. "Ay, you may stable him,
and that's all, for deuce a bit of provender
you'll find to fill his belly with. There's mighty
little entertainment at the Golden Lamb now,
for either man or beast."

"Don't fret about that, Herr Kester. I've
brought the piebald's supper along with me from
Altenau. I thought how it might likely be.
Here's the old horn lantern at last, and here's
an end of candle ready to put into it." And
honest Fritz bustled out to see to his horse.

"Are you going to stay here, then?" asked
Kester, who had been staring open-mouthed at
these proceedings. But Fritz was already
unharnessing the piebald, and did not hear the

"Well, that's cool," said Josef, turning
sullenly to his daughter. "He must mean to stay
here. Then there are no travellers with him.
Small thanks for his coming. If he had had any
rich foreigners to convoy, it's the Black Eagle,
and not the Golden Lamb, that would have been
honoured by Herr Rosenheim's presence

"Of course it is!" answered Kätchen, sharply.
None quicker than she to detect unreason and
injustice in other people. "How could we entertain
rich travellers? Haven't you just told him
that you hadn't even a mouthful of hay for his
one horse? How would it have been if he had
brought the team?"

"Hold your tongue, saucebox. It's my belief
you knew he was coming, and that it was all
settled between you."

"You know you don't really believe that,
father," she answered. But the accusation
scarcely angered her. It was rather soothing
to feel that, in this instance, she was blamed
quite wrongfully. Kätchen did not mind being
a victim up to a certain point, but she resented
a merited rebuke with all the temper of a spoiled
child. By-and-by Fritz's voice was heard shouting
something; but the wind carried the words

"What is it?" asked Kester, standing
shivering at the house door, and peering out into
the night.

"Have you never a key to this outhouse
where the cart stands?" bawled Fritz.

"A key? Thou dear Heaven! No; people
don't want kevs when they've nothing to lock

"Ay, but I have something to lock up, as it
happens. See!" And he held the flickering
lantern within the outhouse door, so as to show
a light cart laden with luggage.