When, therefore, my mother sent me away at the usual hour, provided with two juicy pears to quench my thirst, I did not go to Susanna’s, but crept, with a beating heart and anxiously peering behind me, into the woodshed of our neighbor, the joiner, encouraged and assisted to do so by his son, who was much older than I and already worked in his father’s shop. It was very hot and my hiding place was both dark and close; the two pears did not last long, besides I could not eat them without some twinges of conscience, and an old cat cowering in the background with her young ones, who growled fiercely at my least movement, did not contribute very much to my amusement. The sin carried its punishment along with it; I counted every quarter and every half hour of the clock, the strokes of which penetrated from the high tower to where I was with a harsh, and it seemed to me, threatening sound. I tormented myself wondering whether I could get out of the shed again without being noticed, and I thought only very rarely and fleetingly of the triumph which I hoped to celebrate on the morrow.
It was already getting rather late when my mother came into the garden and glancing gaily and contentedly about her, went over to the well to draw some water. She almost passed directly in front of me, and that in itself arrested my breathing. But how was it with me when my confidant suddenly asked her if she knew where Christian was, and to her astonished reply, “With Susanna!” rejoined half mischievously, half maliciously “No! no, with the cat!” and winking and blinking showed her my hiding place! Beside myself with rage, I sprang out and would have kicked the grinning traitor. My mother, however, her whole face aflame, set her pail down on one side and seized me by the arms and hair to take me to school after all. I tore myself away, I rolled on the ground, I howled and screamed, but in vain. The discovery of such a criminal in her quiet darling, whom every one praised, incensed her so that she would not listen to me, but dragged me away by force; and my continued resistance had no other result than to cause all the windows on the street to be opened and all heads to pop out. When I arrived my companions were just being dismissed; they crowded around me, however, and heaped mockery and derision upon me, while Susanna, who may have realized that the lesson was too severe, tried to pacify me. Since that day I believe I know how the man feels who runs the gauntlet.
I should really have mentioned, above, a third experience, but this last, whether in retrospect one rate it high or low, is, in any case, so unique and incomparable in the life of man that one dares not place it in the same category with any other. In Susanna’s gloomy school-room, namely, I learned to know love, and that, too, in the very same hour in which I entered it; therefore in my fourth year.