Associate Professor of German, Leland Stanford Jr. University
In front of the old manor house occupied by the von Briest family since the days of Elector George William, the bright sunshine was pouring down upon the village road, at the quiet hour of noon. The wing of the mansion looking toward the garden and park cast its broad shadow over a white and green checkered tile walk and extended out over a large round bed, with a sundial in its centre and a border of Indian shot and rhubarb. Some twenty paces further, and parallel to the wing of the house, there ran a churchyard wall, entirely covered with a small-leaved ivy, except at the place where an opening had been made for a little white iron gate. Behind this arose the shingled tower of Hohen-Cremmen, whose weather vane glistened in the sunshine, having only recently been regilded. The front of the house, the wing, and the churchyard wall formed, so to speak, a horseshoe, inclosing a small ornamental garden, at the open side of which was seen a pond, with a small footbridge and a tied-up boat. Close by was a swing, with its crossboard hanging from two ropes at either end, and its frame posts beginning to lean to one side. Between the pond and the circular bed stood a clump of giant plane trees, half hiding the swing.
The terrace in front of the manor house, with its tubbed aloe plants and a few garden chairs, was an agreeable place to sit on cloudy days, besides affording a variety of things to attract the attention. But, on days when the hot sun beat down there, the side of the house toward the garden was given a decided preference, especially by the mother and the daughter of the house. On this account they were today sitting on the tile walk in the shade, with their backs to the open windows, which were all overgrown with wild grape-vines, and by the side of a little projecting stairway, whose four stone steps led from the garden to the ground floor of the wing of the mansion. Both mother and daughter were busy at work, making an altar cloth out of separate squares, which they were piecing together. Skeins of woolen yarn of various colors, and an equal variety of silk thread lay in confusion upon a large round table, upon which were still standing the luncheon dessert plates and a majolica dish filled with fine large gooseberries.
Swiftly and deftly the wool-threaded needles were drawn back and forth, and the mother seemed never to let her eyes wander from the work. But the daughter, who bore the Christian name of Effi, laid aside her needle from time to time and arose from her seat to practice a course of healthy home gymnastics, with every variety of bending and stretching. It was apparent that she took particular delight in these exercises, to which she gave a somewhat comical turn, and whenever she stood there thus engaged, slowly raising her arms and bringing the palms of her hands