At the time of which I speak it was approaching eleven o’clock in the forenoon. The whole vast estate was so quiet that scarcely any noise was audible, save the rustling of the leaves in the tree-tops. The Justice was measuring out oats to his servant, who flung each sack across his shoulders and trudged slowly over to the stable with it. The daughter was counting up her dowry of linen and wool, and a maid was working in the kitchen. All the other dwellers on the estate were lying asleep; for it was just before the harvest-time, when peasants have the least to do, and the workmen use every spare minute for sleep, in order to prepare themselves, in a measure, for the approaching days of toil and sweat. For in general, country people, like dogs, can, if they wish to, sleep at all hours of the day and night.
WHEREIN THE HUNTER SENDS HIS COMPANION OUT AFTER A PERSON BY THE NAME OF SCHRIMBS OR PEPPEL, AND COMES HIMSELF TO THE OBERHOF
From the hills which bordered the Justice’s fields there came forth two men of different appearance and age. The one, clad in a green hunter’s jacket, with a little cap on his curly head and a light Liege gun on his arm, was a strikingly handsome youth; the other, dressed in more quiet colors, was an elderly man with a frank and sincere manner. The younger strode on ahead, as nimbly as a stag, while the older maintained a somewhat slower gait, like that of a worn-out hunting-dog lagging behind the master to whom he is still ever faithful. After they had emerged into an open space at the foot of the hills, they both sat down on a large stone, which lay there beside several others in the shade of a mighty linden. The younger man gave some money and papers to the older, pointed out to him the direction in which he was to continue his way, and said:
“Go now, Jochem, and be discreet, so that we can get hold of this confounded Schrimbs or Peppel who has been inventing such monstrous lies, and as soon as you discover him, let me know.”
“I’ll be discreet all right,” replied old Jochem. “I’ll make such sly and secret inquiries in all the villages and cities about a man who signs his name Schrimbs or Peppel, that it would have to be the devil’s own fault if I don’t succeed in locating the wretch. In the meanwhile you lie low here incognito, until you receive further news from me.”
“Very well,” said the young man, “and now, Jochem, be very cautious and thoughtful all the time in the way you handle the matter, for we are no longer in dear Suabia, but out among the Saxons and Franks.”
“The miserable fellows!” exclaimed old Jochem. “Faith, they have long talked about Suabian stupidities! They shall see that a Suabian can be a sly bird too when it is necessary.”
“And keep always to the right, my Jochem, for the last tracks of this Schrimbs or Peppel are headed that way,” said the young man, standing up and giving the old man a cordial parting handshake.