In July, when the harvest was ripening for the sickle, and man had nothing to do but leave the sun to its work of brooding on the fields, Paul went one day to a committee meeting in the town. When he came home he remarked to Wilhelm at supper:
“What do you think? They have discovered that I am harboring a dangerous Social Democrat. The Landrath actually remonstrated with me on the subject in a discreet and well-meaning way. I can’t tell you how the man amused me,” and he laughed again as he recalled the conversation. But all his amusement vanished when Wilhelm answered:
“The Landrath was quite right. A political outlaw is very doubtful company for a man in your position, and I cannot think how I came to overlook the fact myself.”
In vain did Paul endeavor to turn the matter into a joke; in vain that he showed himself inconsolable at his stupidity in having told the story. Wilhelm declared firmly that he must leave his friend, and bringing his whole force of will to bear upon it, carried his intention through.
The next day Paul’s carriage took him to Harburg. The parting was trying to all of them. Paul’s leave-taking was prolonged, and he made his friend promise he would return next year for some weeks at least to Friesenmoor House. Malvine had tears in her eyes as she said, “No one will care for you so much as we do.” Even little Willy was downcast, and gazed with a reproachful look at the friend who could find it in his heart to desert him. As the train moved off he called out to Wilhelm, in his ringing, childish voice, “Come back soon, Onkelchen, and bring me something nice.”
A SEASIDE ROMANCE.
Wilhelm’s immediate destination was Ostend. He hardly knew himself how he came to fix on that particular place. Since those days, long past, when his thoughts had hovered for weeks round the Belgian watering-place, the name had remained in his mind, and now, with his desire to spend some months in company with the sea, Ostend was the first place that occurred to him.
It was the middle of July, and watering places not very full as yet, nor were there many people staying at the Ocean Hotel where he stopped. Two Americans, who had begun a summer tour on the Continent by a short stay at Ostend, made friends with him on the first day after his arrival, when they found he could speak English. They invited him to join them on their walks, and made him give them information about Germany, and especially about Berlin, which they intended visiting; in return they told him all about the north coast of France, with its watering-places, big and little, which they had “done” last year from Cherbourg to Dunkirk.