THE RIDER ON THE WHITE HORSE
On the evening of the same day that John had ridden away from Zumarshofen, Crappy Zachy came to Farmer Rodel’s house and sat with the proprietor in the back room for a long time, reading a letter to him in a low voice.
“You must give me a hundred crowns if I put this business through, and I want that down in writing,” said Crappy Zachy.
“I should think that fifty would be enough, and even that is a pretty bit of money.”
“No, not a red farthing less than a round hundred, and in saying that I am making you a present of a hundred. But I am willing to do that much for you and your sister—in fact, I am always glad to do a kindness to a fellow-townsman. Why, in Endringen or in Siebenhofen they would gladly give me double the money. Your Rose is a very respectable girl—nobody can deny that—but she’s nothing extraordinary, and one might ask, what’s the price of a dozen such?”
“Be quiet! I won’t have that!”
“Yes, yes, I’ll be quiet, and not disturb you while you’re writing. Now, write at once.”
Farmer Rodel was obliged to do as Crappy Zachy wished, and when he had done writing, he said:
“What do you think? Shall I tell Rose about it?”
“Certainly, you must do so. But don’t let her show that she knows about it, nor tell any one in the place; it won’t bear being talked about. All people have their enemies, you and your sister like the rest, you may believe me. Tell Rose to wear her everyday clothes and milk the cows when he comes. I shall have him come to your house alone. You read what Farmer Landfried writes; the boy has a will of his own, and would run away directly, if he suspected that there was anything being prepared for him. And you must send this very evening to Lauterbach and have your brother-in-law’s white horse brought over here; then I’ll get somebody to send the suitor over to you in quest of the horse. Don’t let him notice that you know anything about it either.”
Crappy Zachy went away, and Farmer Rodel called his sister and his wife into the little back room. After exacting a promise of secrecy, he imparted to them that a suitor for Rose was coming the next day, a prince of a man, who had a first-rate farm—in fact, it was none other than John, the son of Farmer Landfried of Zumarshofen. He then gave the further directions which Crappy Zachy had recommended, and enjoined the strictest secrecy.
After supper, however, Rose could not refrain from asking Barefoot, if, in case of her marrying, she would not go with her as her maid; she would give her double wages, and at the same time she would then not have to cross the Rhine and work in a factory. Barefoot gave an evasive answer; for she was not inclined to go with Rose, knowing that the latter had selfish motives for making the proposal. In the first