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with indifference by those whom formerly they praised, whom they looked up to, and whom they envied. By the graves of those who once filled the village with sin and boasting, with noise and tumult, there is quietly murmured, Perhaps they repented, and have found mercy. The beautiful stock, gilliflower, and Spanish cress with its curling shoots, do not detain them. They do not pluck the flowers. They go on, or stop by poor graves, on which are no showy flowers; but where a mere bunch of thyme, or an old root of sage, has long contended with the- grass, which should have the right of covering the grave.
One Sunday I was going out of the church. It was a delightful spring day. I walked across the churchyard alone; but spoke to this person and that as I passed. At one end stood two old labourers; in their youth they had been farmservants, and then threshers. Flail and scythe had at last become too heavy for them; they had given them up to younger hands. They now worked at what came in their way, and they had besides a cottage and a few acres of land. They were standing between two graves; one was surrounded with paling, out of which, however, storm and time had already broken many a stick; round the other grave there was nothing. Only a couple of shrubs of thyme were witnesses, that at one period love had followed this sleeper to the grave. These shrubs were putting forth their first young shoots.
The old men continued standing, and their conversation seemed to have no end. I went-up and asked, " Well, friends, who rests here? who holds you fast so long?"
"Here on the right within the railing," answered one of them, "rests the farmer, Charles Stobe. He was a faithful master; much good may be said of him. And here, beside him, rests the labourers' pastor, Berend Stein; of him there is still more to say."
"What is it?" I asked.
"Ah! that is not to be told so quickly. To tell you his history we should all three of us have to go without our dinner to day; I will willingly do it some other time."
"Well, come to me to-morrow morning, I have a bit of work for both of you, which is not too hard for your age, and will give you at least a fortnight's earnings; but you shall first tell me all about the labourers' pastor."
They agreed to it, and came at the appointed time. The spokesman of the two gave the following account:—
II. CHARLES STOBE.
"When we both were still going to school, it is now more than fifty years since, there was a farmer here of the name of Charles Stobe. I must begin with him, for the two men who sleep there fh the churchyard, were as closely connected in life as the two graves lie together. Charles Stobe had, in his early years, been much in the world, and was very learned. He ever maintained close friendship with the old pastor Sentius. He had grown tall and straight, like a young fir tree. Later the Lord bowed him down. A more fiery man there has seldom been, than he was in his early years. When once he let loose, we lads would have been glad to creep at once into a mousehole. My father was his thresher, and he brought us all up. But when his passion was over, he was always very kind again. My father was aware of that. He often said at home, that it did not hurt if the master for once let loose against a person; for after the quarrel, he was certain to let half a heap lie on the bushel, when we got our pay the next time.
The folks were well off with him. Honest care was taken for their eating and drinking. I would not have been in the place of a maid, or housekeeper, when she had given the servants bad or unwholesome food. He was always of opinion that what the people ate, each of us should be able to eat. A housekeeper once gave bad mutton, which she had not paid proper attention to, with white cabbage. He heard of it. At noon he went into the servants' room, tasted the meat, and shuddered; he then had the housekeeper sent for, sat down at the servants' table, and made her also sit down; he helped her to some, and she was obliged to eat; as she could not he took her severely to task, and the next day sent her about her business.
In return, however, he also required something from the people. They had to work honestly and enough. The lads hair whistled about their head when he sprang across the field. It was the same with the threshers. How often did he himself thresh after them! And he knocked it out, if a corn had buried itself ever so deep. But if he caught anybody idling a few times, he must go about his business. But no one left willingly, for whoever continued faithful, was never left to want in sickness, weakness, or old age.
You know the new house up yonder, in the garden; it is called the new one, though it is now old. There is a dairy below, over which there is a good room; every day before he ate his breakfast, he went up to it. We lads often wondered what he could be doing up there; even the ploughmen and threshers did not know. Nobody dared disturb him; but once a messenger on horseback having come with a veryurgent letter from his sister, Christian Landenberg had to take it up immediately. Christian thought as it was in haste, he need not knock. As he entered, there sat the master, his cap was laid upon the table, and he was reading in a large Bible with silver corners. We now knew what he was doing up there every morning. From that time we had still greater respect for him. When he was going up we looked quietly after him. When we saw our master so going up therefor the sake of God's word, it was almost as much as if we had read a chapter in it ourselves.
He could ride the most unmanageable horse, and had much skill in hunting. He usually wore a pea-coloured coat, and the hares seemed to know him a long way off.
He could run very fast when a hare was being pursued. But just in that in which man is strongest, lies his temptation, and often his misfortune. On a November day, in Martinmas time, Stobe determined to go to a neighbouring village for partridge shooting; as the usual way was too long for him, he made the driver turn aside from the road and up a grassy slope, in order to cut off a piece. The carriage was overturned. The farmer had jumped out, but the falling carriage struck him on the legs, and the shin-bone of his right leg was broken and shattered. Some people in the field helped the coachman to set the carriage right, and laid the master in it, and thus carried him home. The confinement to a sick bed was long and wearisome to the farmer. And he had to endure it again, for when, after six or seven weeks, the fracture was pretty well cured, he had no patience, but went on crutches too early out of his room, slipped, fell, and broke the leg once more. Afterwards he was compelled to go all his life on crutches. But in the way towards the kingdom of heaven, so to speak, crutches are often more useful than sound legs
III. BEREND STEIN.
At that time, there lived in the village a man of the name of Bernhard, or, as he was usually called, Berend Stein. He was of about the same age as the farmer. He had neither wife nor child, nor near relation. The cottage below by the brook, at the right hand of the bridge, belonged to him. He dwelt in it quite alone. A large cat and a few pairs of pigeons were his only domestic companions. The cottage was always in beautiful order. Before he went out of a morning he made his bed and swept the room. It was all in as good order, as if the best housewife had had the management of it. Behind the house was a small garden, and it is there still, scarcely twelve paces long and ten wide. The garden was as neat as the whole house. Down the middle was a path covered with white sand; on both sides of the path stood lofty holly-hocks cr mallows, and behind these, grenadier roses, tulips, stocks, gilliflowers, and all kinds of flowers that were then possessed by the peasant. Two bunches of yellow crocuses also stood on the left and right. I have often, when a lad, peeped over the hedge, as soon as these came up in the spring, and rejoiced that the Lord would this year also comfort the poor men in their trouble and toil, with flowers and blossoms.
Berend was a mason by trade. He did not come home at noon; he had made an arrangement to take his dinner with a fellow workman. But in the evening he provided for himself. After working-time, he planted, weeded, and watered in the garden, or cleaned in the house. "Whenever a tile had become loose on the roof, he put it to rights himself. On such occasions the cat usually sat beside him, on the ladder or eave of the roof, in the evening sun. In the winter he cleaned stoves. He understood it well, and charged little; he took nothing at all from poor people. He managed, however, very well, for he did not need much. In the winter evenings he read the Bible and some other old books, or played a tune on the violin, and sang to it. Berend was a small thickset man, with broad shoulders. On Sunday he wore a pair of buckled shoes, long white stockings, black leather breeches, and a coat with two rows of shining buttons. To the last he went in a three-cornered hat; but under the hat was a friendly countenance, which shone with pure good will. The people well knew that. Berend was much beloved.
He was very much prized as one who could nurse the sick well. When therefore any one lay seriously ill, some one came towards evening and tapped at the lattice and said, "Berend, come to us for a couple of hours to night, my father or brother is very ill." No one had to ask long; nor did he ask whether the disease was catching or not. "My widow and my orphans," he used to say, "will not cry after me if I die." Then indeed he was in his element, when he could sit beside the bed. Instead of a couple of hours, he was often there the whole night. He could lift as much as two men, and had as much patience as a mother. But that was not his only gift. He had experienced much. In his early years he had worked in Magdeburgh, in Berlin, and in various places. He had also read many a book. He was a singular being. At his work in the day he did not make much stir, he was generally quiet. But in the evening he opened his mouth. There is said to be a beautiful flower, which puts forth its buds indeed in the day, and only opens itself at night; and then it is said to give forth a very delightful fragrance. Berend was like this flower. He could tell a tale capitally. He had a long succession of tales in his head, from which he always chose that which was most suited to the sick person. The poor sufferers forgot their pains, they knew not how. His tales, moreover, were faithfully the same at one time as at another. He was not like the man who never told a tale twice in the same way. Thus the time passed away wondrously quick. The watchman cried twelve before one was aware; but when the time had thus gone into the still of the night, and one and another of the family laid themselves down to sleep, he then always became more friendly and cordial with the sick person. In the very quiet time of the night he would have so won the heart of the sick person to himself, that he could kneel down by his bed and pray with him familiarly. He could truly "weep with those who weep," therefore they also easily learned to rejoice with him in his faith. In the still hours, when God produces the new day, Berend was enabled, by God's grace, to awaken a new life in many a one of the poor bearers of the cross. When morning came, the disease was often subdued. The sick one then quietly pressed Berend's hand and prayed him: "Berend, if you can stand it, come again to-night for a couple of hours." And Berend came. In the day he held out with the masons, partly because he could stand much.
IV. HOW THE TWO BECAME ONE.
Ah! when from hare-hunting the farmer had to betake himself to a wearisome sick bed, it was a trouble to him; and when he thought all was over, and his little stock of patience had but just sufficed till he could get about again on crutches, and he had then to begin again from the beginning, it was still more painful lying still; and keeping still when the Lord strikes is often a hard thing.