Lisbeth, on the other hand, had only the story of her own simple life to tell him. In it there were no big cities, no clever people, and, alas, no mother! And yet he thought he had never heard anything more beautiful. For every menial service which she had performed, she had rendered noble by love. Of the young lady and the Baron she had a thousand touching things to tell, in all the little haunts in and behind the castle garden she had had adventures to relate, and she had read in the books which she had secretly brought down from the garret all sorts of astounding things about strange peoples and countries and remarkable occurrences on land and water—and all this she had retained in her memory.
Thus their days at the Oberhof passed, one after the other. The Justice, to be sure, looked upon it all with different eyes, but was, of course, obliged to let things which he could not prevent go on. But he often shook his head when he saw his young guests walking and talking with each other so much, and would say to himself: “It isn’t right for a young nobleman like that!”
THE DISTURBANCE. WHAT HAPPENED IN A VILLAGE CHURCH
Finally the Hunter finished cutting the pen. He pushed a sheet of paper toward her and asked her to try it and see if it would write. She did so, but could not make it work very well; it had teeth, she said. He looked at what she had written; it was her own name, in the clearest and most regular lines. The fine letters delighted him.
Then the door opened and the bridesmaid entered with a dress and a request that Lisbeth be the third bridesmaid.
Outside the music, varied by the ringing of bells, was coming nearer and nearer, and now the bridal carriage, drawn by two strong horses, hove into sight at the farther end of the road leading through the oak grove. The first bridesmaid stood demurely beside the bride, with her large and rather malodorous bouquet; the men stood by the chests and bundles in the entrance-hall, all ready to seize them for the last time; the Justice was looking about anxiously for the second and third bridesmaids, for if the latter were not on hand before the appearance of the bridegroom to take the place which the day assigned to them, the entire ceremony, according to his notion, was done for. But finally, exactly at the right time, the two awaited girls came down the steps and took their stands on either side of the first, just as the carriage turned in toward the open space in front of the house.
With an expression of unconcern on his face, like that of all the principal persons of this ceremony, the bridegroom alighted from the carriage. Some young people, his most intimate friends, followed him, adorned with ribbons and bouquets. He slowly approached the bride, who even now did not look up, but went on spinning and spinning. The first bridesmaid then fastened the large bouquet of sage to the breast of his wedding-jacket. The bridegroom accepted the bouquet without thanks, for thanks were not included in the traditional routine. He silently offered his hand to his father-in-law, then, just as silently, to his bride, who thereupon arose and placed herself with the bridesmaids, between the first and second and in front of the third.