[At seven o’clock dinner was served. At the table Sidonie Grasenabb had much to say against the loose modern way of bringing up girls, with particular reference to the Forester’s frivolous daughters. After a toast to Ring, in which Gueldenklee indulged in various puns on the name, the Prussian song was sung and the company made ready to start home. Gieshuebler’s coachman had meanwhile been kicked in the shin by one of the horses and the doctor ordered him to stay at the Forester’s for the present. Innstetten undertook to drive home in his place. Sidonie Grasenabb rode part of the way with Effi and Crampas, till a small stream with a quicksand bottom was encountered, when she left the sleigh and joined her family in their carriage. Crampas who had been sent by Innstetten to look after the ladies in his sleigh, was now alone with Effi. When she saw that the roundabout way was bringing them to a dark forest, through which they would have to pass, she sought to steady her nerves by clasping her hands together with all her might. Then she recalled the poem about God’s Wall and tried two or three times to repeat the widow’s prayer for protection, but was conscious that her words were dead. She was afraid, and yet felt as though she were under a spell, which she did not care to cast off. When the sleigh entered the dark woods Crampas spoke her name softly, with trembling voice, took her hand, loosened the clenched fingers, and covered them with fervent kisses. She felt herself fainting. When she again opened her eyes the sleigh had passed out of the woods and it soon drove up before her home in Kessin.]
Innstetten, who had observed Effi sharply as he lifted her from the sleigh, but had avoided speaking to her in private about the strange drive, arose early the following morning and sought to overcome his ill-humor, from the effects of which he still suffered.
“Did you sleep well?” he asked, as Effi came to breakfast.
“How fortunate! I can’t say the same of myself. I dreamed you met with an accident in the sleigh, in the quicksand, and Crampas tried to rescue you—I must call it that—, but he sank out of sight with you.”
“You say all this so queerly, Geert. Your words contain a covert reproach, and I can guess why.”
“You do not approve of Crampas’s coming and offering us his assistance.”
“Yes, us. Sidonie and me. You seem to have forgotten entirely that the Major came at your request. At first he sat opposite me, and I may say, incidentally, that it was indeed an uncomfortable seat on that miserable narrow strip, but when the Grasenabbs came up and took Sidonie, and our sleigh suddenly drove on, I suppose you expected that I should ask him to get out? That would have made a laughing stock of me, and you know how sensitive you are on that point. Remember, we have ridden horseback many times together, with your consent, and now you don’t think I should ride in the same vehicle with him. It is wrong, we used to say at home, to mistrust a nobleman.”