“Almani!” replied Myrtle, moved with much interest.
“Ha, ha!” cried the lad, “what gang do you go with?”
“I don’t know—I am looking for it.”
And without any concealment she told him how Bremer had found her and brought her up, and how she had escaped yesterday from his house.
The young gipsy grinned, and showed a long double row of white teeth.
“I am going to Hazlach,” he cried. “To-morrow there’s a fete there; our band will all be there—Pfiffer Karl, Melchior, Blue-Titmouse, Fritz the clarionet, Coucou-Peter, and Magpie. The women are going fortune-telling, and we play the music. If you like, you may go with me.”
“I will,” said Myrtle, looking down.
Then he kissed her, laid his bag upon her back, and grasping his stick in both his hands, he cried—
“Now you are my wife! You will carry the bag for me, and I will keep you. Forward!”
And now Myrtle, lazy as she had always been at the farm, started off with all possible willingness.
He followed her, singing, and tumbling over on his hands and feet to express his joy!
From that day Myrtle has never been heard of.
Fritz almost died of grief when he found that she did not return; but a few years later he found comfort in marrying Gredel Dich, the miller’s daughter, a fine, stout, active girl, who made him an excellent wife; and Catherine, his mother, was quite pleased, for Gredel Dich was quite an heiress!
Only Bremer could not be comforted; he was as fond of Myrtle as if she had been his own child, and he drooped visibly from day to day.
One winter’s day when he had got up, and was looking out of the window, he saw a ragged but pretty gipsy girl passing through the village covered with snow, and with a heavy bag upon her shoulders, and sat down again with a deep sigh.
“What is the matter, Bremer?” asked his wife.
There was no answer. She came close. His eyes were closing. There he lay dead.
When my excellent uncle Christian Haas, burgomaster of Lauterbach, died, I had a good situation as maitre de chapelle, or precentor, under the Grand Duke Yeri Peter, with a salary of fifteen hundred florins, notwithstanding which I was a poor man still.
Uncle Christian knew exactly how I was situated, and yet had never sent me a kreutzer. So when I learned that he had left me owner of two hundred acres of rich land in orchards and vineyards, a good bit of woodland, and his large house at Lauterbach, I could not help shedding tears of gratitude.
“My dear uncle,” I cried, “now I can appreciate the depth of your wisdom, and I thank you most sincerely for your judicious illiberality. Where would now the money be, supposing you had sent me anything? In the hands of the Philistines, no doubt; whereas by your prudent delays you have saved the country, like another Fabius Cunctator—