The German Classics of the Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries, Volume 09 eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 505 pages of information about The German Classics of the Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries, Volume 09.

LEONARD.

And that is the way old Gebhard went about to the end of his days.

ANTONY.

On account of the scar.  And supposing you arrived in time to help save him, but to do it you had not only to wrench the knife out of his hand and bandage the wound, but you had also to give over a paltry thousand thalers that you had saved up; and, furthermore, you had to do it all absolutely on the sly, so as to induce the sick man to accept it, what would you do?

LEONARD.

Being a free and single man, without wife and child, I would sacrifice the money.

ANTONY.

And if you had ten wives, like the Turks, and as many children as were promised to Father Abraham, and if you took only one second to think about it, you would be—­Well, you are to be my son-in-law!  Now you know where the money is.  Today I could tell you, for my old Master is buried; a month ago I would have kept the secret even on my death-bed.  I slipped the note under the dead man’s head before they nailed up the coffin.  If I had known how to write, I would have written underneath:  “Honestly paid!” But, ignorant as I am, there was nothing for me to do but tear the paper in two.  Now he will sleep in peace—­and I hope that I shall too, when they stretch me out beside him.

SCENE VI

MOTHER (enters hurriedly).

Do you still know me?

ANTONY (pointing to the wedding dress).

The frame, yes—­that is perfectly preserved; but the picture—­not so well.  It seems to be covered with cobwebs.  Oh, well! there has been time enough for it.

MOTHER.

Have I not a frank husband?  Still, I do not need to praise him specially—­frankness is a virtue of married men!

ANTONY.

Are you sorry that you were better gilded at twenty than you are at fifty?

MOTHER.

Certainly not!  If I were, I ought to be ashamed both for myself and for you!

ANTONY.

Give me a kiss then!  I am shaved and look better than usual.

MOTHER.

I say yes, merely to test you, to see if you still understand the art. 
It is a long time since such a thing has occurred to you!

ANTONY.

Good mother, I will not ask you to close my eyes; that is a hard thing to do, and I will take it off your hands.  I will do that final service of love for you.  But you must grant me time, understand, to harden and prepare myself for it, so that I won’t make a botch of it.  It would have been much too soon!

MOTHER.

Thank God that we are still going to have a little time together!

ANTONY.

I hope so too!  You have your old red cheeks again!

MOTHER.

A comical fellow, our new grave-digger!  He was digging a grave this morning when I passed through the church-yard.  I asked him whom it was for.  “For whomsoever God wills,” he said.  “Perhaps for myself.  The same thing may happen to me that happened to my grandfather; he too had dug one on chance once, and at night when he came home from the Inn he fell into it and broke his neck.”

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The German Classics of the Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries, Volume 09 from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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