By all means; I herewith raise him to the nobility. (He hangs an order about the cat’s neck.) What is his actual name?
Hinze. By birth he is of but a lowly family—but his merits exalt him.
LEANDER (quickly stepping forward).
After the King I rode with due submission,
And now implore his Majesty’s permission
To close with laudatory lines poetic
This play so very wondrous and prophetic.
In praise of cats my grateful anthem soars—
The noblest of those creatures on all fours
Who daily bring contentment to our doors.
In Egypt cats were gods, and very nice is
The Tom-cat who was cousin to Great Isis.
They still protect our cellar, attic, kitchen,
And serve the man who this world’s goods is rich in.
Our homes had household gods of yore to grace them.
If cats be gods, then with the Lares place them!
[Drumming. The curtain falls.]
FAIR ECKBERT (1796)
BY LUDWIG TIECK
TRANSLATED BY PAUL B. THOMAS
In a region of the Hartz Mountains there lived a knight whom people generally called simply Fair Eckbert. He was about forty years old, scarcely of medium height, and short, very fair hair fell thick and straight over his pale, sunken face. He lived very quietly unto himself, and was never implicated in the feuds of his neighbors; people saw him but rarely outside the encircling wall of his little castle. His wife loved solitude quite as much as he, and both seemed to love each other from the heart; only they were wont to complain because Heaven seemed unwilling to bless their marriage with children.
Very seldom was Eckbert visited by guests, and even when he was, almost no change on their account was made in the ordinary routine of his life. Frugality dwelt there, and Economy herself seemed to regulate everything. Eckbert was then cheerful and gay—only when he was alone one noticed in him a certain reserve, a quiet distant melancholy.
Nobody came so often to the castle as did Philip Walther, a man to whom Eckbert had become greatly attached, because he found in him very much his own way of thinking. His home was really in Franconia, but he often spent more than half a year at a time in the vicinity of Eckbert’s castle, where he busied himself gathering herbs and stones and arranging them in order. He had a small income, and was therefore dependent upon no one. Eckbert often accompanied him on his lonely rambles, and thus a closer friendship developed between the two men with each succeeding year.
There are hours in which it worries a man to keep from a friend a secret, which hitherto he has often taken great pains to conceal. The soul then feels an irresistible impulse to impart itself completely, and reveal its innermost self to the friend, in order to make him so much the more a friend. At these moments delicate souls disclose themselves to each other, and it doubtless sometimes happens that the one shrinks back in fright from its acquaintance with the other.