What I like best is to sit up on the hill in a quiet spot between the Justice’s cornfields, which terminate there. In front of me there is a large depression in the ground, grown over with weeds and blackberry bushes, around which, in a circle, lie a lot of large stones. Over the largest of these, directly opposite the field, the branches of three old lindens spread out. Behind me rustles the forest. The spot is infinitely lonesome, secluded and secret, especially now that the corn is grown up, as tall as a man, behind it. I spend a great deal of time up there—not always, to be sure, in sentimental contemplation of nature; it is my usual evening watchpost, from which I shoot the stags and roes out of the Justice’s corn.
They call the place the “Freemen’s Tribunal.” Presumably, in days of yore, the Fehme used to hatch out its sentences there in the darkness of the night. When I praised the place to my Justice, an expression of friendliness passed over his face. He made no reply, but after a time conducted me, without any inducement on my part, to a room on the upper floor of the house. There he opened an iron-bound trunk, showed me an old, rusty sword which was lying in it, and said with great solemnity: “That is a great curiosity; it is the sword of Charles the Great, preserved for a thousand and more years in the Oberhof, and still in full strength and power.” Without adding any further explanations, he clapped the cover down again. I wouldn’t for anything have shaken his belief in this sacred relic, although a fleeting glance convinced me that the broad-sword could scarcely be more than a few hundred years old. But he showed me too a formal attestation concerning the genuineness of the weapon, made out for him by an obliging provincial scholar.
[Illustration: THE FREEMEN’S TRIBUNAL By Benjamin Vautier]
Well, then, I shall stay here among the peasants until old Jochem sends me news of Schrimbs or Peppel. To be sure, in the course of my eighty-mile journey I have cooled down a little, for it makes considerable difference when two weeks intervene between a project and its execution. Furthermore the question now is: What sort of revenge shall I take on him? But all that will take care of itself later on.
Mentor, you shall soon hear more, I hope, from your Not-Telemachus.
HOW THE HUNTER LIVES AT THE OBERHOF
Several days passed at the Oberhof in the usual quiet, monotonous way. Still no word came from old Jochem, regarding either himself or the escaped adventurer; and a mild anxiety gradually began, after a while, to steal over his young master. For nowadays time is so regulated and so enmeshes us that nobody, no matter how free and independent he may be, can long endure an existence which does not offer him some occupation or social relation to fall back on.