“It won’t do—the pain is too severe—I might faint on the way. We must wait here in this place until somebody comes along who can fetch a stretcher.”
In spite of the pain of her wound she was clutching tightly in her left hand a small package; this she now handed to him and said:
“Keep it for me—it is the money that I have collected for the baron—I might lose it. We must prepare ourselves,” she continued, “to remain here for some little time. If it were only possible for you to make a place for me to lie down and to give me something warm, so that the cold won’t penetrate to the wound!”
Thus she had presence of mind both for herself and him. He stood speechless, pale and immovable, like a statue. Utter dismay filled his heart and let not a single word escape from his lips.
Her appeal now put new life into him; he hurried to the tree behind which he had hidden his hunting-bag. There he saw, lying on the ground, the unfortunate gun. He seized it furiously and brought it down on a stone with such strength that the stock was shattered to pieces, both barrels bent, and the lock wrenched from the screws. He cursed the day, himself, and his hand. Then, rushing back to the girl, who had sat down on a stone in the “Open Tribunal,” he fell at her feet, kissed the hem of her dress, and with passionate tears flowing from his eyes in a torrent, besought her forgiveness. She merely begged him to please arise; he couldn’t help doing it, the wound was surely of no significance, and the thing for him to do now was to help.
He now fitted up a seat for her by laying his bag on the stone, bound his handkerchief around her neck, and gently and loosely laid his coat over her shoulders. She sat down on the stone. He took a seat beside her and invited her to rest her head, for relief, against his breast. She did so.
The moon, in its full clarity, had risen high in the heavens, and now shone down with almost daytime brightness on the couple, whom a rude accident had thus brought so close together. In the most intimate proximity the strange man sat by the strange girl; she uttered low moans of pain on his breast, while down his cheeks the tears ran irrepressibly. Round about them the silent solitude of night was slowly gathering.
Finally Fortune so willed it that a late wanderer passed through the cornfields. The Hunter’s call reached his ears; he hurried to the spot and was dispatched at once to the Oberhof. Soon afterwards footsteps were heard coming up the hill; the men were bringing a sedan chair with cushions. The Hunter gently lifted the wounded girl into it, and thus, late at night, she reached the sheltering roof of her old friend, who was, to be sure, greatly astonished to see his expected guest arrive in such a condition.