I could only see the bull’s hind-quarters and his tail waving aloft like a battle-flag. You would have thought he wanted to bring the walls down by the furious and violent pounding of his hind-feet. That silent scene in shadow was fearful. I did not wait to see the end. I came carefully down my ladder, and slipped out of the court like a thief. You may imagine with what pleasure I inhaled the pure open air; and passing through the crowd collected round the door where the bear-leader was tearing his hair in his wild despair, I ran off to my aunt’s house.
I was just going round under the arcades when I was stopped by my old drawing-master, Conrad Schmidt.
“Caspar!” he cried, “where are you going in such a hurry?”
“I am going to paint the great bear-fight!” I answered enthusiastically.
“Another tavern scene, I suppose,” he remarked with a shrug.
“Why not, Master Conrad? Is not a tavern scene as good as one in the forum?”
I would have said a good deal, but we were standing at his door.
“Good night, Maitre Conrad,” I cried, pressing his hand. “Don’t bear a grudge against me for not going to study in Italy.”
“Grudge! No,” replied the old master, smiling. “You know that privately I am of your opinion. If I tell you now and then to go to Italy, it is to satisfy Dame Catherine. But follow out your own idea, Caspar. Men who only follow other men’s ideas never do any good.”
This story, allowing for the exercise of fancy in its construction, is only too faithful a picture of German student life and habits, with its ignorance or disregard of the Christianity taught us in the Gospel, its only half-concealed leaning towards the ancient systems of religion properly known as heathen, and its careless indifference to human life. The translator has ventured to deviate slightly from the original in one or two places in order to avoid giving an unnecessary shock to the susceptibilities of readers trained and educated in principles widely differing from these.—Transl.
Doesn’t everybody at Tubingen know the lamentable history of the quarrel between the Seigneur Kaspar Evig and the young Jew Elias Hirsch? Kaspar Evig was courting Mademoiselle Eva Salomon, the daughter of the old picture-dealer in the Rue de Jericho. One day he found my friend Elias In the broker’s shop, and, on what pretext I know not, he boxed his ears soundly three or four times.
Elias Hirsch, who had begun his medical studies only about five months before, was called upon by a council of the students to challenge the Seigneur Kaspar to fight, a step which he took with the greatest repugnance, for it was quite to be expected that a seigneur should be a perfect swordsman.
For all that Elias put himself well on the defensive, and, watching his opportunity, inserted his finely-pointed sword so neatly between the ribs of the above-mentioned seigneur as considerably to affect his breathing, the consequence of which was that he was dead in ten minutes.