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THE BRAeSIG EPISODES FROM UT MINE STROMTID
TRANSLATED BY M.W. MACDOWALL
EDITED AND ABRIDGED BY EDMUND VON MACH, PH.D.
[UT MIND STROMTID: A story of my youth, depicts the joys and sorrows of a North German country community during the lean years of the second quarter of the nineteenth century. Human passions rent the hearts of men then as now. Nobility of soul distinguished some, and was lacking in many. Education was not universal, but common sense perhaps rather frequent. The best road to a happy life, however, was then as always, a kindly heart, a strict sense of justice, and a dash of unconscious humor. This lucky combination endeared Uncle Braesig to everyone, and enabled him to make his blustering way cheerfully, yet serenely conscious of all joys and sorrows, amid the vicissitudes of life. He understood the human heart, whether it beat in the breast of a child or a tired old man, of a villain or of a loving wife. Nobody, however, was dearer to him than Mina and Lina Nuessler, his god-children. And naughty little girls these angelic twins were too, without respect for grandfather’s peruke or grandmother’s Sunday cap. They placed them on their own curly locks, and danced the “Kringelkranz-Rosendanz,” and in so doing broke Mina’s favorite toy-jar. In their eagerness to have it mended they ran from the house.]
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Just as the children entered the yard a little man came in at the gate. And this little man had a red face, and a very imposing red nose which he always held cocked up in the air. He wore a square cap of no particular color with a tassel in front, and a long-tailed, loose, gray linen-coat. He always kept his feet turned out in an exaggerated first position which made his short legs look as if they were fastened to his body in the wrong way. He had striped trousers and long boots with yellow tops. He was not stout, and yet he was by no means thin, in fact his figure was beginning to lose its youthful proportions.
The children walked on, and when they had got near enough for the farm-bailiff—for such was the calling of the little man—to see what they were wearing, he stood still, and raised his bushy yellow eye-brows till they were quite hidden under his pointed cap, treating them as if they were the most beautiful part of his face, and must therefore be put away in a safe place out of all danger: “Bless me!” cried he. “What’s the matter? What on earth have you been about? Why you’ve got the whole of your old grandparent’s Sunday-finery on your heads!” The two little girls allowed themselves to be deprived of their borrowed plumes without remonstrance, and showing the broken jar, said that the wheel-wright was to mend it. “What!” exclaimed Mr. farm-bailiff Braesig—that was the way he liked to be addressed—“is it possible that there is such insummate folly in the world? Lina, you are the eldest and ought to have been wiser; and, Mina, don’t cry any more, you are my little god-child, and so I’ll give you a new jar at the summer-fair. And now get away with you into the house.” He drove the little girls before him, and followed carrying the peruke in one hand and the cap in the other.