• TABLE OF CONTENTS
HIDE
 Front Cover
 Half Title
 Title Page
 Foreword
 Table of Contents
 The dreaded robber-chief
 Crossing the frontier
 Herr Graf
 A strange letter
 Advertising
 Back Cover






Title: Story told to a child
CITATION THUMBNAILS PAGE TURNER PAGE IMAGE ZOOMABLE
Full Citation
STANDARD VIEW MARC VIEW
Permanent Link: http://ufdc.ufl.edu/UF00080117/00001
 Material Information
Title: Story told to a child
Physical Description: 4 p.l., 82, 6 p. : ill. ; 19 cm.
Language: English
Creator: Vacher, Francis
Simpkin, Marshall, Hamilton, Kent & Co. Ltd ( Publisher )
Deansgate Press ( Printer )
George Falkner & Sons ( Printer )
Publisher: Simpkin, Marshall, Hamilton, Kent & Co., limited
Place of Publication: London
Manufacturer: Deansgate Press ; George Falkner & Sons
Publication Date: 1891
 Subjects
Subject: Children -- Conduct of life -- Juvenile fiction   ( lcsh )
Conduct of life -- Juvenile fiction   ( lcsh )
Brigands and robbers -- Juvenile fiction   ( lcsh )
Voyages and travels -- Juvenile fiction   ( lcsh )
Adventure and adventurers -- Juvenile fiction   ( lcsh )
Letters -- Juvenile fiction   ( lcsh )
Storytelling -- Juvenile fiction   ( lcsh )
Bldn -- 1891
Genre: novel   ( marcgt )
Spatial Coverage: England -- London
 Notes
Statement of Responsibility: by Francis Vacher.
General Note: Title page, chapter titles and some advertisements printed in red ink.
 Record Information
Bibliographic ID: UF00080117
Volume ID: VID00001
Source Institution: University of Florida
Rights Management: All rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.
Resource Identifier: aleph - 002239170
notis - ALH9696
oclc - 37304377

Table of Contents
    Front Cover
        Front Cover 1
        Front Cover 2
        Front Cover 3
    Half Title
        Half Title
    Title Page
        Title Page 1
        Title Page 2
    Foreword
        Foreword
    Table of Contents
        Table of Contents
    The dreaded robber-chief
        Page 1
        Page 2
        Page 3
        Page 4
        Page 5
        Page 6
        Page 7
        Page 8
        Page 9
        Page 10
        Page 11
        Page 12
        Page 13
        Page 14
        Page 15
        Page 16
        Page 17
        Page 18
    Crossing the frontier
        Page 19
        Page 20
        Page 21
        Page 22
        Page 23
        Page 24
        Page 25
        Page 26
        Page 27
        Page 28
        Page 29
        Page 30
        Page 31
        Page 32
        Page 33
        Page 34
        Page 35
        Page 36
        Page 37
        Page 38
    Herr Graf
        Page 39
        Page 40
        Page 41
        Page 42
        Page 43
        Page 44
        Page 45
        Page 46
        Page 47
        Page 48
        Page 49
        Page 50
        Page 51
        Page 52
        Page 53
        Page 54
        Page 55
        Page 56
        Page 57
        Page 58
        Page 59
    A strange letter
        Page 60
        Page 61
        Page 62
        Page 63
        Page 64
        Page 65
        Page 66
        Page 67
        Page 68
        Page 69
        Page 70
        Page 71
        Page 72
        Page 73
        Page 74
        Page 75
        Page 76
        Page 77
        Page 78
        Page 79
        Page 80
        Page 81
        Page 82
    Advertising
        Page 83
        Page 84
        Page 85
        Page 86
        Page 87
        Page 88
    Back Cover
        Back Cover 1
        Back Cover 2
Full Text

















W.




van.
................
. .. ... ..
..... ......


son







1AP



... ...
.. ... ...



















..Sur .nh o














STORY TOLD TO A CHILD




BY

Francis Vacher


LONDON:
SIMPKIN, MARSHALL, HAMILTON, KENT, & Co.,
LIMITED.
1891.




















































(The rights of refrodiuctian and of translation are reserved)















7orP-borb.

HOULD anyone venture to
doubt the truth of the follow-
ing story, I have only to say
that "the gentleman, lady, and little
boy" are in evidence, and also that the
landlady of the Inn at Stassfurt is
willing to testify as to her part of the
narrative. The incriminating letter-
excellent proof i it could be procured-
is unfortunately in the possession of
Herr Graf; and the little boy's portrait
of the robber-chief, it has been ruled,
cannot be tendered as a witness.


F. V.



















I. THE 'D'rEA'DE'D- RO'BqER-
CHIEF.

rI. CROSSING THE FRONTIER.

I. HE RR GRecAF.

V. cA STWIAfNGE LETTER.
















e p rPebpb alIfier-jjif.

HAVE just finished my writing,
and shut up my desk, and am
going out into the paddock for
a romp with my boy, when my wife
tells me she is almost sure the grass is
damp. Good little Francis, who, all
the time I was busy, has been sitting
so quiet in expectation four promised
game with old Woolly Lamb, is sadly
disappointed at hearing this ominous
remark from his mamma. He is not
very old, but he quite understands that
the grass being damp means that he
and I must stay in-doors.







2 THE DREADED ROBBER-CHIEF

As loath as my boy to give up my
half-hour's play if the giving up can
possibly be avoided, I step outside for
a minute to see if mamma's surmise on
the state of the grass be correct.

When I come back the dew on my
boots supports my wife's opinion, and
Francis and I have to make up our
minds to stay where we are.

Mamma, however, has no objection
to my taking little Francis on my back
round to. the stable on a visit to
Woolly Lamb. It was to a Shetland
pony we had given this odd name,
partly on account of his being so gentle
and tiny, and partly because his coat
was more like a brown sheep's than a
pony's. So Francis gets up on a chair
and mounts pick-a-back, and when we
get to Mr. Lamb's house we knock at
the door, not that we expect anyone to








THE DREADED ROBBER-CHIEF 3

say "come in," but for politeness' sake.
We find our old friend having his
supper, and very busy he is over it,
but he looks up and says "How d'you
do," in his pony language. We pat
him, and tell him how very sorry we
are his trot on the turf and lesson in
jumping must be put off, as we are
afraid if we were to take him out to-
night he might catch cold in his feet.
Then we pat him once more, and bid
him "good-night."

Now back to mamma as fast as you
can," says little Francis, getting a better
hold round my neck, and laying his
head on my shoulder for fear of acci-
-dents from the low apple tree boughs.

When we are again in the sitting-
room, we give ourselves up to the
solution of the question that so puzzled
Count Raymond, the legendary Lord








4 THE DREADED ROBBER-CHIEF.

of Thoulouse. What are we to do?
It wants more than half-an-hour to
little Francis' bed-time. How are we
to spend that half-hour ? I have not
any more writing to do, and even if I
had and were in a mind for it, mamma
will not hear of spoiling the beautiful
evening by having the candles up yet.
We agree with mamma that the twi-
light is very pleasant, and it will be a
pity not to enjoy it; yet it does not
seem to my boy and me that the best
way to enjoy it is sitting still and doing
nothing. Indeed, it is always difficult
for Francis to sit still unless he is
amused, or at work, or waiting for me
to play with him.

"If we could knit like mamma," I
suggest.

"Or, if there were light enough for
you to read us a story," says the child.
"'Suppose








THE DREADED ROBBER-CHIEF. 5

"Suppose your father could tell us
one," puts in mamma.
"Hurrah!" says Francis, "I wonder
.1 never thought of that."

"But, my boy, you must know my
stock of stories by heart," say I,
thinking of The Steadfast Tin
Soldier," "The Ugly Duckling,"
" Hans in Luck," and many other
pretty conceptions of Danish Andersen
and the brothers Grimm, which I was
in the habit of repeating to my little
son when he begged for a tale.
"Then please let it be quite a new
one," says the child, out of your own
head."

I explain that I have not the talent
for inventing adventures at a minute's
notice. However, Francis is not to
be put off so easily. He says he
prefers real stories to made-up ones.
"So








6 THE DREADED ROBBER-CHIEF

So do I, my pet," says mamma.

"And what's it to be about ?" I
ask, to gain time.

"About a gentleman and lady, and
a little boy," answered Master Frank,
without the slightest hesitation.

Yes, give us the tale of A. F. B. B.,"
adds my wife, archly. "I think you
remember that."

I admit I do, and that it is about a
gentleman and lady, and a little boy,
and therefore just what is wanted.

"One moment," says the child,
bringing his tiny stool to my side, and
taking my hand in his. Now then,
all's ready."

Whereupon I begin.
Not








THE DREADED ROBBER-CHIEF. 7

Not'a very long time ago, little
Francis, but before you were born,
there lived in the wild, mountainous,
forest-covered tract in the south of
Hanover, called the Harz, a desperate
robber, who soon succeeded in making
himself the terror of all the country
round. His names, or rather the four
names he had assumed and went
by at the time I refer to, were
Adelbert Ferdinand Boberfeld Bur-
meister. He dubbed himself "captain,"
and was supposed to be the head of
a number of as lawless, dissolute men
as himself. Not much was known
about his history, or how he came to
take to the mountains and prey upon
travellers; but many a romantic tale
was invented to account for his not
being a respectable member of society.
It seemed to be pretty generally
believed that he had been something
more than-merely respectable-indeed,
that








8 THE DREADED ROBBER-CHIEF.

that he had moved in the very highest
circles-but who he was and what
caused him to descend from these
circles were .quite vexed questions.
One had it on excellent authority he
was the Junker von Klaus, who had
disappeared some years back, and was
then under suspicion of being in league
with the hardest of hard masters;
another, as well informed, gave it out
he was the Ritter Sausundbraus, whose
creditors had long been at their wits'
end to know where to find him;
another was assured the notorious
bandit was an ex-officer in the army,
who had been outlawed after trans-
fixing his antagonist in a duel; a fourth
was possessed of positive proof that
he was a jilted lover; while a fifth
could take his oath he was a dis-
appointed courtier. Nor was more
known about his personal appearance
than his history, for the statements of
those








THE DREADED ROBBER-CHIE. 9

those who had, or thought they had,
seen him, were strangely at variance.
According to one, he was tall and
dark, with fierce black moustaches;
according to another, he was barely
five feet three, and as clean-shaved as
a priest. Probably, every person
who had the ill fortune to be robbed
journeying through the Harz, or who
fell among thieves at any of the
bordering towns, at once jumped to
the conclusion it was the dreaded
captain who had attacked him. Still,
however people might differ as to who
he was and what he was like, they were
all agreed that a terrible robber-chief
haunted the Harz, and that his name
was Adelbert Ferdinand Boberfeld
Burmeister. There was no room for
doubting that, as every now and then
a luckless traveller was Snapped up,
and the fact that he had fallen into the
hands of the Burmeister's followers was
notified








io THE DREADED ROBBER-CHIEF.

notified to his relatives, and the letter
containing the news, with the amount of
ransom demanded, and particulars as to
how it was to be forwarded, was always
signed in full "on behalf of self and
comrades," with the terrible chief's four
big-sounding names.

At a time when this bold outlaw's
kidnapping exploits had become of such
frequent occurrence that the whole
country, from the Elbe to Prussian
Westphalia, rang with them, an English .
gentleman arid his wife arrived one
evening at Harzgerode,an unimportant
little town of Upper i Saxony, situated
at the extremity of the Harz -tract.
The precise object that took them to
the queer little place it is not necessary
for us to inquire into. Suffice it to say
it was business of some sort brought
the gentleman, and devotion -to her
husband brought the lady. It was
rather








THE DREADED ROBBER-CHIEF. I

rather late when their conveyance drew
up at the Stork, and discharged its
contents-too late for the gentleman to
think of beginning his business that
day, so the travellers ordered a good
dinner, and resolved on making them-
selves as comfortable as the resources
of the house would permit. These were
nothing extraordinary, for although
the Stork was the most important inn
in the town, it was not quite a first-
class hotel. It was a big, straggling,
wooden building, too pretentious to
be snug, and too old-fashioned to be
commodious. The hall seemed to the
travellers as chilly as a vault, and the
stairs creaked at every step. There
was choice enough of rooms for them,
but the sleeping apartments all seemed
to be made to lie awake in, and the
sitting-rooms specially designed to tell
ghost stories in. However, our travel-
lers were too tired to be particular,
made








12 THE DREADED ROBBER-CHIEF

made a hasty selection, and were left to
themselves to get through their evening
toilet as best they could with a pudding-
basin fullof hard water, and atowel of the
size and substance of a common cotton
pocket-handkerchief. When they had
accomplished this feat they were shown
into the great saal to await dinner.
What a cheerless room it was-long
and low like a' saloon of an Atlantic
steamer, but with no swinging lights,
and no colour about it, and no company.
Along one side were four windows, un-
curtained and ill-fitting, so that they
rattled and let in the draught; down
the other side and anywhere else
where there was room for them, were
oppressively heavy pieces of furniture,
dark cabinets, and cases, and stands,
and one hard comfortless sofa, that the
wavering flame of the only oil lamp
in the room made black, shaking,
shadows of on the dirty uncarpeted
floor.








THE DREADED ROBBER-CHIEF. 13

floor. Down the centre was a table
that could have dined fifty folk, but
it was quite bare, except at the end
furthest from the door, which, as our
travellers noticed, was covered with a
yellowish white cloth, and laid for four.

There was no fire in the room, but
a tall earthenware stove occupied a
corner hard by the preparations for
dinner.

Our travellers were not long in
finding out this, and trying to warm
themselves (for the night I am telling
about was in the second week in
February, and true February wind
was coming through the chinks in
the window frames), when the door
they had entered by was again opened.
The apartment was so ill lit that at
first they could not see who had
been admitted. In a minute, however,








14 TIHE DREADED ROBBER-CHIEE.

the landlord was before them, bland
and bowing, and introducing a queer,
rather over-dressed, old lady he had
brought with him.

Frdulein von Valentin, the landlord
explained, was a distinguished guest,
who had done him the honour to arrive
just before his other distinguished
guests. She was the daughter of the
late Herr Rechnungsrath Valentin, of
whom his other distinguished guests
had doubtless heard.


'The gentleman had only time to
return his host's bow, to regret his want
of information in not having heard of
the Fraulein's father, and express the
pleasure it gave him and his wife to
make the Fraulein's acquaintance, when
the waiter came in and placed the soup
on the table.








.THE DREADED ROBBER-CHIEF 15

At once the little party of four sat
down to dinner, and as they were all
too hungry to talk except the landlord,
who had dined before, he had the con-
versation to himself. It was not inter-
esting, being entirely about his own
viands. He praised the thin soup for
being so light, the beef it was made
from, which followed, for being so
tender. Then he was in ecstacies
over the little dish of "nine eyes,"
which he declared to be the most
delicious he had ever tasted; he entered
into biographical details about a tough
bird that came next, he "remembered
it when a chicken;" and as for the
*omelet, -Francatelli could 'not have
made a better. The sour cabbage, too,
and the boiled cucumber, and the
potatoes and apples whipped up, he
had something to say about each of
them, while the wine (only poor Nie-
dersteiner) was equal, if not superior,








16 THE DREADED ROBBER-CHIEF.

to the finest St. Johannisberg growths.
He was a genial little man, this land-
lord, and really appeared to be in
earnest, his enthusiasm increasing as
the meal progressed; but, with all this,
the travellers could not help thinking
he was acting a part, and that his flow
of talk was something more than the
innocent garrulity of a simple provincial
innkeeper in love with himself and his
fare. There was a ceaselessness about
his chatter they could not fail to remark,
as if he were afraid of stopping even
for a few minutes. It could not be
that he was a nervous man, trying to
talk off his nervousness, neither did it
seem possible that he was merely
exerting himself in the hope of making
his guests believe they were really
having an excellent dinner. What
could be his object? Our travellers
were fairly puzzled. Not so- the
Fraulein. She was evidently not
troubling








THE DREADED ROBBER-CHIEF. 17

troubling herself with problems con-
cerning the landlord and his gossip,
but bestowing her undivided attention
on her plate. She was one of those
women who are more at home at the
table than anywhere else, yet whose
table-talk never goes beyond "I beg"
and I thank." In appearance she was
a trifle over middle height, although
with a stoop in the shoulders, very
decidedly full-figured, florid of face, and
heavy looking.

By the time dinner was over
the landlord was more at his ease,
and the conversation became general.
Our travellers discussed the roads and
the weather prospects, the fat Fraulein
sought for particulars regarding the
Harzgerode Castle, the magnetic
rocks, and the caverns of Scharzfeld,
which she had heard so much of,
and positively must see; and the host
answered








18 THE DREADED ROBBER-CHIEF..

answered all questions addressed to
him. In this manner the evening
passed away pleasantly enough, till
one of the party, the Fraulein, showed
signs of being tired out. Indeed, she
fell to nodding so frequently she was
in danger of falling from her chair.
The action reminded our travellers it
was already past the bed-time of little
out-of-the-way German towns, where
few sit up after nine. So the sleeper
was awakened, a pair of hand-lamps
brought in, "good-nights" exchanged,
and the proprietor of the Stork and
his guests retired to rest.
















Crossing flP fronfie.

HERE the landlord went to the
travellers did not stay to see,
but they noticed the fair
Valentin was accommodated in the
room next theirs. They remarked also
that there were six or eight apartments
opening into the same corridor, and
none of the others were occupied.

The English lady felt quite glad
she and her husband were not to be the
only lodgers in the lonely place. She
told her husband so, and that she did
not like their host, nor his house, and
hoped they would not have to stop
there another night.
I








20 CROSSING THE FRONTIER.

"I expect we shall be able to turn
our backs on Harzgerode to-morrow,"
returned the husband, "and I shall not
be sorry to do so, for I am far from
pleased with this inn. It's damp, and
dirty, and comfortless."

"The innkeeper," continued the lady,-
"is worse than the inn. I'm sure he's
not an honest man."

"What makes you think that ?"

"He was so fidgety and nervous,
and seemed afraid to look one in the
face."

"So would you have been, my dear,
if you had provided such a wretched
menu as he did. Besides, if the house
were the model den of thieves to be
found only in story books, I do not see
what protection our stout friend would








CROSSING THE FRONTIER. 21

be to us, unless she snored so loudly
as to arouse the neighbours at the
critical moment."

And the gentleman laughed away
his wife's fears as best he could. Still,
with all his assumed mirth, he was not
quite free from uneasiness himself.
Not that he was afraid of being robbed,
as he carried little money and few
valuables with lim; but he too had
noticed the strange manner of the
landlord in the early part of the evening,
and he was disquieted it should have
made such an impression on his wife,
she being just then in a condition when
any feeling of alarm was likely to be
specially perilous.

However, the lady's fears were not
to be lulled so lightly. As the night
advanced they rather increased, and at
the most ordinary noises took fresh
forms.








22 CROSSING THE FRONTIER.


forms. Thus, if the wind blew round
the house and shook the windows, the
poor lady was sure someone was trying
to get in; if an owl hooted, it was a
.victim shouting for help; if a rat gnawed
at the wainscot, it was the landlord
using an auger to the door. The house,
like all old wooden buildings, being
full of weird sounds, and the weather
outside being a bit rough, there was
no want of material for an excitable
imagination to work upon; and after a
little, the gentleman had to get up and
read aloud to his wife to divert her
attention. Whether it was this plan:
succeeded, or that when half the night
had passed without anything out of
the ordinary course happening, the
lady began to be ashamed of her
childish alarm, her husband could not
say; he only knew that in the small
hours of the morning she fell asleep,
and he soon followed her example.
Now








CROSSING THE FRONTIER. 23

Now I daresay, little Francis, you are
expecting the travellers were aroused
by the presence of a robber ransacking
their luggage, or, pistol in hand, calling
upon them to give up their watches
and money. Nothing of the kind. It
was a diffident tap at the door that
awoke them, and this was followed by
the information that it was half-past
seven, and time to get up.

Though our travellers had had
several hours good sleep, the gentleman
felt that the embarrassed behaviour of
the landlord, and night noises which
had made his wife so uneasy and
anxious, had really given her such a
dread of the house, and even of the
town, that it would not be safe for her
to risk another night in Harzgerode.
Had he had any doubts about the
necessity of pushing -forward before
another sunset, they would have been
removed








24 -CROSSING THE FRONTIER.

removed by his wife, who, as soon as
she awoke, found all her overnight
fears returning, and prayed him to get
her away as soon as possible.

"I would give all the world rather
than anything happened in this place,"
she said.

"Certainly, my dear," he replied.
" I am as unwilling as you to put in a
forced two or three weeks in a house
which, if not a robber's den, has too
many rats and bats in it to be a
desirable temporary home. But,
supposing I contrive to get my business
over here, and we can get posted to
Stassfurt, where I am next due, we
may find ourselves even worse off
there, for it is quite a small place."

"Anywhere, anywhere out of this
dreadful town," persisted the poor wife,
till the gentleman felt quite frightened
about








CROSSING THE FRONTIER. 25


about her, and promised, whether he
got his work over or no, they should
go to Stassfurt that evening.

This little matter being settled, the
travellers went down to the saal and
ordered breakfast. The fat Friulein
was already there, and greeted them
in the ordinary German fashion, ask-
ing if they had slept well.

The gentleman said they had passed
but a poor night, having been disturbed
by the noise of the wind, &c.

The Fraulein was quite sympathetic.
She had herself passed a dreadful
night, such an one as she hoped never
again to have to go through.

There were such strange sounds,"
put in the English lady.
True," continued the Fraulein von
Valentin, "it is hard to explain them
all. ./
.. I/








26 CROSSING THE FRONTIER.

all. I tried myself, and said, this is
the storm, this is a flittermouse, and so
on.

Our travellers told their companion
they too had endeavoured to account
for the night noises thus.

"And could not," the German lady
went on. For me, I decided it must
be a house of thieves, or else haunted.
Here I had resolved to see the castle
and the mines, and from here procure
a guide to Scharzfeld and Baumann,
and the rocks of Ilsenstein. Now, I
care not for any of them, but only to
be away from the terrors of the
Stork."

In this way the three exchanged
confidences, as they sipped their coffee,
till the landlord came in and asked how
he could serve his guests.

The








CROSSING THE FRONTIER. 27


The Englishman asked if he could
be accommodated with a conveyance
to go to Stassfurt in the afternoon.

"If you had been going in the
morning," said the Fraulein, as soon
as the landlord had left the room to
inquire, "you might have shared my
coach. I ordered one as soon as I
left my chamber. I was so alarmed, I
thought I could not be too soon off."

"Do you travel our way ?" asked
the Englishwoman.

"I go to Magdeburg, and so must
pass through Stassfurt. It is about
half-way there."

The wife appealed to the husband,
and begged, and coaxed, and carried
her point, and it was agreed that all
business was to be postponed till she
was safe at Stassfurt.
When

.T--








28 .CROSSING THE FRONTIER.

When the landlord returned he was
told of the offer the Fraulein had made,
and that it had been accepted ; and
by the time the three travellers had
their bills settled and their luggage
ready, their conveyance was at the
door.

Just as they were about to start, two
soldiers rode up.

What guests have you at the Stork,
master ?" asked one, dismounting.

"None but those now leaving my
roof-an English gentleman and two
ladies."

You have not the Burmeister hid
in your fox-hole ?"

Oh, Sirs-your cannot think it! "

We mean to look for ourselves."
You








CROSSING THE FRONTIER. 29

You are welcome! Only suffer
me to make my adieu to my guests,
and I will conduct you." And the
landlord shut the door of the carriage
on its frightened occupants, and
followed the soldiers into the house.

I say frightened occupants, for the
Fraulein's naturally florid face turned
suddenly white, the,Englishwoman, by
a strong effort, only just saved herself
from fainting, while the husband,
alarmed for his wife, felt himself
getting as pale as either of his
companions. Those of the towns-
people who saw the travellers rattling
up the High-street might have taken
them for three ghosts out for a
holiday.

However, by the time they had
fairly left Harzgerode behind them,
they got the better of their fears, and
wondered








30 CROSSING, THE I.FROTIER.

wondered how they had come to be
so much moved at the mention of a
name.

"Why, if the notorious robber him-
self had put his head in at the window
he could scarcely have produced a
more startling effect," said the gentle-
man, by way of saying something.

"But is it not dreadful to think that
we have probably had the Burmeister
for a fellow-lodger ?" observed one of
the ladies.

It is not surprising the landlord
was ill at ease, and that we all instinc-
tively knew we were in danger!"
remarked the other.

And thus the party fell to talking,
first of the Burmeister and his reputed
achievements, but afterwards of matters
more agreeable and better befitting the
occasion-








CROSSI/'G THE FRONTIER. 31

occasion-to wit, the pleasant country
they were passing through, and the
objects of interest within sight. For
it was a pleasant country the old road
from Harzgerode to Stassfurt passed
through, not a straight road along a
dead level as are so many of the
highways in Germany, but a road
having lots of ups and downs in it and
many turns and twists; with the Harz
mountains towering above miles of
undulating woodland on the left, and
a more open but scarcely less varied
landscape on the right; with the Bode
peeping out here and there among
the trees on the left, and a. little
unnamed tributary of the Saale now
seen, now lost, in the distance on the
right. By ill-built Ballenstedt the road
passed, and by pretty Aschersleben,
next under Hoim, within sight of its
castle, and then out of the Principality
of Anhalt and into the Duchy of
Magdeburg.








CROSSING THE FRONTIER.


Magdeburg. All the way the Fraulein
von Valentin was very chatty and
sociable. She found out the names of
the hills and places they drove by' on
a little pocket map; she told an old-
world story about Riibezahl and his
mates, and gave many reminiscences
of her own travels in various parts.
In truth, she was so sprightly and full
of conversation that our English friends
could hardly believe she was the same
taciturn, sleepy old lady they had dined
with the day before.

But as the borders of Anhalt were
approached her manner changed. She
let down the window on her side the
carriage, and two or three times looked
out up the road, then she searched the
pockets of her great winter cloak, and
then rose from her seat.

Do you miss anything, madam?"
asked the Englishman.
The








CROSSING THE FRONTIER. 33

'' The little hand-bag," answered the
Fraulein. Is it possible I can have
left it at the Stork ?"

Neither of her travelling companions
had noticed her bring a hand-bag into
the carriage, and they told her so.

Then I must believe it was, indeed,
forgotten."

The Englishman expressed a hope
the Fraulein would recover her pro-
perty.

If I do," she said, "I fear it will
not be in time to save me from much
annoyance. Had it been only a trifle
of money I could say good-bye to it
cheerfully, but my passport was in the
bag."

I thought only foreigners required
to be provided with passports," said
the gentleman.
It








34 CROSSING THE FRONTIER.

"It is so, till of late," the poor
Fraulein explained; "but since the
dreadful Burmeister has made such
trouble no one may leave Anhalt
without a pass; and I am afraid we
are close on the boundary station,
where it is sure to be demanded. To
be stopped in such an out-of-the-world
place, while one sends back to Harz-
gerode, would be to catch a cold at the
least ; and then how can I send back
when you must go forward?" Here
the speaker broke off, and took another
look up the road from the window.
She drew back her head almost as
quickly as if she had been struck.
" My friends," she went on, distress
is the mother of stratagem. The
station is not two hundred yards in
front; suffer me to conceal myself till
it is passed."

Without more words the Friulein


crept








CROSSING THE FRONTIER. 35

crept under the back seat, and from
her position there called out, Mister,
sit by your wife, and dispose your rug
neatly."


The gentleman did as directed
almost mechanically. It all happened
so quickly there was no time for think-
ing. The German lady's discovery of
her loss, her explanation, her asking
to be allowed to hide, and her popping
under the seat, were all the work of a
minute, so that our English friends
were drawn up in'front of the border
station before they could fully appre-
ciate the awkwardness of the situation
in which the conduct of their companion
placed them.


The station was only a wooden hut
gaudily painted in broad oblique
stripes, but it was supplemented by a
similarly








36 CROSSING THE FRONTIER.

similarly-coloured turnpike-gate, and
contained two soldiers in spiked
helmets that came well down over
their ears, and stout grey great coats
reaching to their heels. One stood in
the hut doorway, and the other came
forward and spoke to the coachman.

"Where from ?" he asked.

Harzgerode."

"Whom have you ?"

"Two English."

Then the same soldier addressed
our friends, and being satisfied with
the general appearance of the docu-
ment handed him (for it is not likely
he could understand all it requested
and required") gave the word for his
comrade to open the gate, and the
travellers








CROSSING THE FRONTIER.


travellers knew that whatever danger
they had been in it was over. Not,
however, till some time afterwards did
the Friulein resume her place. When
she did she was so prodigal in her
thanks it seemed as if she could
not say .enough. She should ever
remember the kindness of her good
friends; they had put her under an
everlasting obligation; she had always
admired the English character, and
henceforth she should esteem it more;
she hoped she might some day have
the happy fortune to render her new
friends a service, and much more to
the same purpose.

By' the time the Fraulein von
Valentin had finished all she had to
say on this theme, the travelling
carriage was rumbling up the main
street of Stassfurt. It was not an
important town, nor a pretty one. It
was








38 CROSSING THE FRON-TIER.

was even less pleasant looking than
Harzgerode-less interesting, too, for
it had no castle. Its houses were
small, and its streets crooked, and the
air of it was laden with the smoke from
its gaunt, black saltworks' chimneys.

















pFrr raf.

HOUGH the town did not
impress our travellers favour-
ably. it was quite otherwise
with the inn. That really seemed the
nicest, homeliest, hostel they had ever
put up at. Not a great shambling
place such as the Stork, but a compact,
warm, little house, with room enough
for as many guests as were likely to
come, and none to spare for guests in
prospective that never came, or for
damp, or draughts, or rats. Then the
welcome the little party received was
as hearty an one as they would have got
at an old-fashioned English coaching-
house.







HERR GRAF


house. They did not need to ask .for
anything; the landlord knew just what
they wanted. The travellers would
stay-that was,two would-and required
apartments airy, but not cold; would
prefer furniture from H anover-English
made. The landlord was ready to lead
the way. One lady wished to proceed
to-say, to Magdeburg city. Very
well, there was a change of horses in
the stable, fellows who wanted exercise,
and would do the journey in three
hours. All the travellers would be
glad of their dinner so cold a day.
Very well again; the table d'hdte would
be laid by one, when as good a meal
would be ready for them as the Chan-
cellor of the Duchy could desire.

And the landlord was no mere
boaster; he kept his promises. He
did lead the way to a snug carpeted
room, furnished with a fourposter and








HERR GRAF


a washstand that looked every bit
English; he did show the Fraulein
the horses which were to take her on,
and they had the appearance of. being
equal to something more than seven
miles an hour; while as for the dinner
it was no fot au feu and thin wine, but
substantial soup, roast joints, and real
Brunswick beer.

A pleasant little company had come
to share the good things-three or
four of the better-class townspeople, a
farmer and his wife, a couple of students
from Gattingen on a walking tour, and
a distinguished person no one seemed
to know anything about, except that
the landlord deferred to him and called
him Herr Graf.

The Englishman and his wife felt
quite thankful they had chanced upon
such comfortable quarters, and they
enjoyed








HERR GR.AF


enjoyed themselves the more thinking
of the lonely hut they might have been
detained in had the Friulein been
obliged to send the carriage back for
her missing passport. \Vhat set them
thinking of the Friulein was her
absence from the table. Seeing that
she had been round to the stable they
could have understood her coming in
a little late, but as she was one who
was evidently a bit of a good liver, it
seemed strange for her to let good
viands cool while she elaborated her
toilet. Then that she was expected
there could be no doubt, for a place
was kept for her-one of the places of
honour for new guests above the Herr
Graf.

As the dinner advanced, the landlord
ventured to remark upon the Friiulein's
absence, and asked the English lady if
her friend were well.








HERR GRAF


"So far as we know there is nothing
the matter with the Fr~iulein," said the
Englishman, answering for his wife.

"A little over fatigued, perhaps ?"
persisted the host.

"Perhaps," echoed the Englishman
curtly, and the subject dropped.

Shortly after the Herr Graf suddenly
put his handkerchief to his face and
left the room, and when the toothpicks
and cigars were placed on the table he
was followed by the landlord. Then
a message was brought the English-
man. "Some one wanted to speak
with him," and he went out to meet
Herr Graf and the landlord just out-
side the saloon door.

This friend of yours-who is she?"
they both asked together.
No








HERR GRAF.


No friend of mine."

"How so?"

"She is a travelling companion who,
was polite enough to offer me and my
wife a seat in the carriage she had
hired."
"And your coachman-who is he ?"
I know nothing of him except that
he drove me from the Stork, Harz-
gerode."

A pretty trick the pair have played
me," the landlord continued. "They
are off on my two good horses."

"They cannot have had a long start.
You may overtake them before they
get to Magdeburg."

How do we know they have gone
to Magdeburg? and there -are only
your tired horses to follow them with."'
However,.








HERR GRAP.


However, Herr Graf was sufficiently
interested in the- runaways and the
landlord in the recovery of his property
to attempt pursuit, so the tired horses
were got out, and the Graf on one and
his host on the other posted off along
the Magdeburg road.

That the Englishman was surprised
to hear his late lively travelling com-
panion and coachman had made off
with a pair of horses while their
owner was at his dinner may well be
imagined; but the more he thought
over the manner and acts of the
Friulein the less was his surprise.
After all, what did he know about her ?
She had been introduced to him the
night before, by a man who might or
might not be honest, one who at all
events had not the best of characters
among his own countrymen, or the
soldiers would hardly have spoken to
him







HERR GR.AF.


him as they did, and suspected him of
harbouring a notorious robber. Then
the woman had been markedly reticent
at first, as if shy of her company till
she knew them. In the morning she
had wished to make herself agreeable,
and was full of small talk. As for her
offer of seats in the conveyance she
had hired, it was not impossible the
story of the lost passport was all an
invention, and that she had made use
of our friends merely for the purpose
of smuggling herself over the Anhalt
frontier. Lastly, the Englishman
called to mind that the coachman, on
being asked Whom have you ?" had
at once answered "Two English,"
showing he knew all about what had
been going on behind his back.

Reflections such as these satisfied
the Englishman he had been made a
cat's paw of, and had journeyed over
twenty








HERR GRAF


twenty miles in very doubtful company.
When he joined his wife, his convictions
were confirmed.

He did not care to frighten her
with the news that she had been sitting
for hours next a horse-thief, so on her
asking what had become of the
.Friulein he parried the question with
another. Did you wish to see her ?"

"If she has not run away," said the
wife.

Run away-what put that in your
head ?"

She was absent at the table d'hote,
and I have since discovered my purse
and watch are gone."

"Then we've paid dearly for our
ride," said the Englishman resignedly.
"The woman has run away, with a
good








HERR GRAF.


good start too, and all there was to
follow with were the hacks that
brought us here."

Then our friends discussed the
subject at length, and after a bit came
to the conclusion that things might
have been worse. The lost purse
was only a light one, and the lost
watch of no great value. They had
escaped detention at the border station
too, and now they were at Stassfurt,
and a couple of horses had been
stolen, no one seemed to have any
notion of connecting them with the
theft.

Making the best of it this wise, and
leaving his wife tolerably at ease, the
gentleman set out on his business, and
soon forgot all about the Fraulein von
Valentin. Hard as he tried, however,
he could not complete his Stassfurt
work








HERR GRAF


work that day. 'Certain people he
wanted to see were out, others kept
him waiting a long time, and others
lived right outside the town, so that
when he. got back to the inn he had
still calls enough to make to occupy
him all the following morning.

The landlord returned at a late hour,
but without bringing tidings of his
horses. Herr Graf, whoever he was,
it was understood was continuing the
chase.

There was a good deal of talk over
night in the smoking-room about the
robbery, and some of'the townspeople
dropped in to hear the latest intelli-
gence from the landlord, but were
disappointed, for the house closed
before he appeared. In the morning
too a few idlers came to ask for news
of the thieves, but there was nothing
to tell them.
The








HERR GR.4.


The Englishman started out to finish
his work as early as he could, wishing
to get back to Harzgerode in the
afternoon. This he had no doubi he
should be able to do as his host
promised to borrow him a suitable
saddle horse, to be at the door by
three. His host kept his word, and
the Englishman, nothing happening to
delay him, after once more taking part
at a good German dinner, and bidding
adieu to his wife, began his journey.

It was just the day for a brisk
country ride, fresh and bracing but not
windy, cold enough to make the, roads
something firmer, but not cold enough
to freeze them, and settled withal,
banishing fears of storms and snow.

So thought the traveller as he broke
his horse into a steady trot, and gave
himself up to the enjoyment of the ex-
hilarating








HERR GRAF


hilarating exercise. And he did enjoy
himself thoroughly till he came in sight
of the frontier station, when he began to
be a little troubled as to how he would
be received there. The soldiers would
recognize him, of course, but would
they know he had fooled them the
day before, and provided they did,
and had heard of his late companion's
recent exploits, would they make any
difficulty about letting him pass ?

These questions were soon answered.
The soldiers did object to his passing,
and though they did not say so, it was
quite apparent they knew of the trick
that had been played them last time
they let him through. Indeed they
would have objected to his returning
the way he came. His horse was held
and he was requested to dismount, and
take a seat in the hut. Being an
Englishman, he did not obey without
protesting








HERR GRAF


protesting against such treatment,
demanding to know the reason of his
detention, threatening and appealing;
but the pair of German guards were a
stolid sort of fellows, alike indifferent
to entreaty and menaces. What
silent gaolers they were They would
not answer any of their prisoner's
questions-not even say what they
were going to do with him. Neither
were they inquisitive about him, for
they asked him nothing but his name,
where to and where from, for making
a formal entry in a book.

How long the Englishman would
have been kept in durance vile, but for
the advent of a friend, who shall say ?
As it chanced, his confinement was
only for a short time, so short that he
was not yet altogether miserable, but
merely chafed and out of temper, when
deliverance came.
His








HERR GRAF.


His deliverer was not an old friend
of the Englishman, only an acquaint-
ance of yesterday-only Herr Graf,
the last man the prisoner would have
looked to see.

"Now, who have you there, Mr. Karl
and Mr. Peter ?" said a voice from the
outside, before either the captive or
his guards knew anyone was near.

"So it is you, Herr Graf," returned
one of the soldiers, going to the door.
" Your mare treads like a cat."

"As becomes her-but answer my
question."

"One you will be glad to see-an
intimate of the Burmeister, if I mistake
not."

You will be a great man some day,
Karl," and the speaker dismounted.
When








HERR GRAF


When he saw the Englishman he
shook hands with him warmly, saying,
" One I am pleased to see truly, Karl;
a friend of mine."

The Englishman assured the new
comer the pleasure was mutual, adding,
"If you can get me out of this predica-
ment I shall be for ever grateful."

"Can and will," replied Herr Graf.
"You are free this minute."

The soldiers would have entered
into an explanation, but they were not
suffered. It was a blunder; there was
no history necessary; the Herr Graf
knew all that could be told him. The
prisoner's horse must be brought round
at once, and the gate set open.

Suffice it to say, Herr Graf had his
way,'and that without loss of time or
waste of words. He and the man he








HERR GRAF


had befriended were soon in their
saddles and ready to resume their
journeys.

How far do you go ?" asked the
German.

The Englishman told him.

"Our destinations are the same;
may, I have the honour of your
company ?"

"You will confer an obligation in
giving me yours," and the pair bowed
to one another and set off.

When two people are riding against
time on a cold February afternoon,
when their joint object is to get to
their journey's end before nightfall,
and they both know it will require all
their exertions to do it, they can hardly
be expected to attempt much conver-
sation. At all events, very little passed
between








HERR GRAF.


between the travellers to Harzgerode
till they got into town, when the
question arose where they should
put up.

"Anywhere rather than at the
Stork," said the Englishman.

Quite my opinion," acquiesced the
German. There is but one other house
of any size, the Red Boar. Shall we
try it ?"

The Englishman said he would be
guided by the Herr Graf, so when the
Red Boar yard was reached in they
turned, and, after seeing their beasts
well bestowed, were glad enough of
the comforts of a warm room and a
hot supper.

The German had plenty to say for
himself, but the Englishman was too
fagged to pay great attention to him.
However,








SHERR GRAF 57

However, as they sat finishing their
wine the Englishman took occasion to
ask how the hunt after the Fraulein
progressed.

"It has failed so far," said Herr
Graf.

"That is 'you have found neither
the woman, the man, nor the horses ?"

Not one of them."

And have abandoned the search ?"

I reserve my answer."

The Englishman said he hoped the
woman might be found before he left
the country, and told his companion
of his wife's loss.

'"You seem so interested in the
thief, it is odd she should rob you,"
returned the German, offensively.
"I








HERR GRAF


I am interested in the recovery of
my property."

"Naturally. Shall we drink to the
discomfort of Fraulein-What is it
you call her ?"

"She called herself Fraulein von
Valentin."

"Then it is a fitting time to drink
her down-this is Valentine's Eve.
How shall we put it ?"

"As you will."

Fill your glass, then. Now-may
all luck forsake the Burmeister and his
Valentine."

"What has the Burmeister to do
with it ?"

You will not drink," sneered Herr
Graf.
The








HERR GRAF


The Englishman, wishing to avoid
anything like a brawl, especially with
one who appeared to be a little heated
with wine, rang the bell.

"What is that for ?" followed this;
but the Englishman left the question
unanswered, and on the servant's
appearing asked to be shown to his
room.

When he got there he thought no
more of the little unpleasantness,
except to regret that he had introduced
the unfortunate subject that led to it,
and to be thankful that a glass or two
of Rhine wine did not affect him as it
appeared to have affected the man he
had just left.















A $fraHy uirite.

v the morning all was forgotten
and forgiven, and if our friend
had met the Herr Graf at
breakfast he would have shaken hands
with him, remembering nothing but
the German's kindly interference at
the guardhouse. As it happened, no
meeting took place in the breakfast
room, and the Englishman did not see
his late travelling companion before
going out. This did not surprise him.
as he was up betimes, but three or
four times in the day, when he was
about his business in the town, he
caught sight of someone he could not
but fancy must be Herr Graf. The
dress








A STRANGE LETTER.


,dress was not the same, certainly, nor
the figure, and the face there was no
getting a good view of; still the
Englishman could not dispossess him-
self of the idea that face, .figure, and
dress were the Herr Graf's, and (not a
pleasant reflection) that for some reason
or other this man was following him.

Can it be, thought our friend, the
German believes he has been insulted,
and is seeking an opportunity to prefer
a challenge to mortal combat ? The
notion seemed too absurd to be enter-
tained for a moment. Could it be the
man was a State spy, and thought he
was watching some secret political
agitator? Surely not. Could it be
he was an agent of a firm desirous of
pushing a trade among our friend's
clicni'e- ? Again, surely not. Yet
what could the fellow's object be in
dogging him?
The








62 A STRANGE LETTER.


The Englishman was fairly puzzled
over the problem. But though he
could not solve it, trying to do so and
troubling himself about it delayed him,
and he was longer over his work than
he expected to be. Indeed, by the
time he had finished it was just begin-
ning to get dark. The last thing
before returning to his hotel he called
at the post-office, thinking possibly
there might be a letter from his wife.
There was one at least, there was a
letter from Stassfurt addressed to him,
and in a handwriting rather like his
wife's. He tore open the cover and
drew forth a small slip of paper.
Scrawled across it in, as it seemed to
the Englishman, a bad imitation of his
wife's writing, was-
Please come soon, soon.
A. F. B. B."
Our friend had hardly time to read the
brief note, when a hand reached over
his shoulder and took it from him.
Turning








A STRANGE LETTER.


Turning sharply round, he found
himself face to face with Herr Graf.

"What does this mean?"

"Only that it is unwise to read
private letters in public," returned
Herr Graf coolly, but stepping back a
little to be out of the way of the
exasperated Englishman's fist.

Whoever you are," said our friend,
with difficulty restraining himself from
closing with the other, "you shall be
taught you cannot insult a British
subject with impunity."

When a British subject is in league
with the outlaws of this Principality,
and corresponds with them, his Govern-
ment will scarcely venture to protect
him."

I correspond with outlaws ?"
"Perhaps








64 A STR.IAGE LETTER


Perhaps you think to fool me as
you did guileless. Mr. Karl, on the
frontier, the day before yesterday."

I simply do not understand you."

You should tell your friend to
write in cipher, or at least not to sign
his too well-known initials. The
evidence against you would have been
less complete."

"You are talking riddles."

Your innocence is well assumed.
Doubtless, shortly, you will be able to
persuade me the letters A. F. B. B.
do not stand for Adelbert Ferdinand
Boberfeld Burmeister, and that this
note you have just received is not
from him."

To say that the Englishman turned
giddy on hearing this would be to
assert no more than the truth. He
was








A STRANGE LETTER.


was no coward, but the Burmeister
had made himself so dreaded and
detested by all in the Harz territory,
that anyone pointed out as an accom-
plice of his would have stood but a
poor chance of his life even among the
most peaceable citizens. Yet this
was what our poor friend was openly
accused of being. Fortunately there
was no one in the office but the post-
master and his clerk to overhear the
accusation.

The former Herr Graf next
addressed, asking him if he could
spare his private room for a few
minutes.

The postmaster was most happy to
oblige, part of the counter was lifted
up, and the two guests of the Red
.Boar. were shown into a little back
parlour.
"Now,"








66 A STRANGE LETTER.


Now," said the Englishman de-
fiantly, as soon as the door was shut,
"you have stolen my letter and
affronted me. What are you going to
do next ?"

That remains to be seen," returned
Herr Graf. "First let me ask a few -
questions."

"Ask away."

"Will you help me-?"

How can I do so ?"

Assist me to lay a trap for these
friends of yours, and I'll use my
influence to get you a free pardon."

"What friends'?"

The Burmeister and this woman,
whose latest alias is Valentin."
I








A STRANGE LETTER.


I know no more of the Burmeister
than the man in the moon-what I
know of the woman you have heard."

"So the Burmeister did not drive
you 'to Stassfurt the day before
yesterday?"
"The Burmeister drive me to
Stassfurt!" repeated the Englishman,
wondering what next he should be told.

My good sir," said the Herr Graf,
to whom the perplexed tone and
bewildered looks of the Englishman
were all a piece of acting, "this is
waste of time. Will you help me ?
That is what you've to consider-or,
in other words, will you take me to
the writer of this letter? He wants
you post-haste. Suppose we pay our
respects to him in company.
"But I do not know the writer; at
first I thought it was my wife."
Her








68 A STRANGE LETTER.

Her initials are A. F. B. B. ?"

"Nothing of the kind."

"I wish you would be wise," said
the German, walking up and down the
room impatiently. "You know the
price that is upon the Burmeister's
head; will not that tempt you ? "

The reference to the letter suggested
to our friend to ask to look at it. Who
could have done him such an ill-turn
as to send it, and thus get him into so
much trouble? If he could see it again
he might get some clue to the sender."

After taking the precaution to have
the table between himself and his
prisoner, Herr Graf produced the
letter.

For some time the Englishman
examined the writing, and the longer
he examined the more it grew like his
wife's.








A STRANGE LETTER.


wife's. The words were ill-formed
and untidy and blotted, as if written
hurriedly, or in great distress or in
sickness.. "Soon, soon," that, too, was
like her, for she had a little Irish blood
in her veins. Good heavens, could it
be that his wife was really in such
urgent trouble, she had only time to
scrawl this one line. It seemed more
than probable. Then, how account
*for A. F. B. B. ? If it were as he feared,
the inquiry into that mystery might
stand over.

Well, have you satisfied yourself ?"
broke in Herr Graf.

Yes, and have decided to do as
you wish."

You have ?"

To take you to the writer of that
letter."
"That's








70 A STRANGE LETTER.


"That's sensible. I thought we
should understand one another."


Fervently hoping he might be
understood, and that at no distant
date, the Englishman with Herr Graf
sticking uncomfortably close to his
side, left the post-office and made his
way to the Red Boar.

A conveyance was ordered to be
ready as soon as possible, and while it
was preparing the German took a
snack; but the Englishman, though
required to sit by at the same table,
was too cast down even to make a
pretence of eating, and too impatient
to think about anything else but how
long it would be before they started.


And this impatience increased every
minute. Herr Graf's appetite seemed
insatiable,








A STRANGE LETTER.


insatiable, then there was the time the
host took making out the bill, the time
Herr Graf spent haggling over one of
the items and afterwards in wrapping
and settling himself comfortably in his
big fur coat, and the precious minutes
the ostler wasted getting out his horses
and putting them to.

It is always so when one is in a.
fever to be off. All around appear to
act and move with such provoking
precision and studied slowness, while
innumerable little delays, as unexpected
as they are vexatious, occur at every
turn.

However, delays have an end, and
even German slowness does at last
accomplish its object. It was some-
where about eight when the carriage
rolled away down the ill-paved High-
street, past eight when it left the stones
and








72 A STRANGE LETTER.

and the houses, and shops, and lights
behind, and our friend found himself
for the third time on the road between
Harzgerode and Stassfurt. Under
what different circumstances he had
made the journey only two days back,
enjoying the pretty country and the
bright morning, for all the Burmeister
was his Jehu, and the Burmeister's
accomplice was chatting to his wife-
under what different circumstances
yesterday, just released from a guard-
house with his deliverer by his side.
Now he was again a prisoner, his de-
liverer had re-arrested him, and he was
being-taken to unknown troubles and
difficulties. But it was not this con-
trast, nor his own misfortunes, nor
reminiscences of the past two days that
occupied his thoughts, as cold and
dispirited he sat back in the carriage
beside his grim, silent, well-mn ffled-up,
self-satisfied gaoler.








A STRANGE LETTER.


All his thoughts were of the poor
wife, alone among strangers, in a
strange house in a foreign land-the
poor lonely wife who had written to
him in such pathetic terms (for he now
had no doubt the letter was from her)
-the poor lonely wife who was in
some affliction, who, for aught he knew,
was at that moment in the throes of
travail. 'And as he was suspected,
was it not possible and likely she had
fared no better? A spy had taken
the trouble to come all the way to
Harzgerdde to watch him, owing to
that unfortunate falling in with the
Valentin; was it not probable another
spy might have been told off to watch
his wife ? How he pictured the saloon
at the Stassfurt Inn, with a spy waiting
at dinner, and a spy handing round
coffee, in the afternoon. How he
pictured the apartments (airy, but not
cold, with furniture from Hanover,
English.








74 A STRANGE LETTER.


English made, as the landlord had
described them), with his wife moving
here and there, or sitting down to rest
and to read, or kneeling to say her
prayers, but always with the eye of a
German spy prying upon her through
the keyhole. Again and again he
blamed himself for suffering any busi-
ness engagements to take him away
from her at such a time. Again and
again he blamed himself for having
allowed a designing woman to make a
cat's-paw of him. But neither useless
regrets, nor calling up visions of his
wife's possible misfortunes, nor imagin-
ing the indignities she might have
been subjected to, helped to shorten
the journey. Unhappy man, whatever
else he was thinking of, he could never
for a moment forget the slow, slow pro-
gress he was making along the road that
separated him from his wife. Not that
the progress was really exceptionally
slow,








A STRANGE LETTER.


slow, for the horses were covering the
ground as fast as the darkness of the
night permitted, but so it seemed to
him, and his utter powerlessness to
mend the pace made him wretched.
How he longed to get outside and
drive! how he wished he were on
horseback! how he would have liked
a good half-hour's run by the side of
the carriage! As it was, he had no
choice but to sit still and be jolted
along like a bale of goods. Oh, what
a tedious, wearisome journey it was!

As for Herr Graf, the Englishman,
whenever he turned his attention to
him, could not make out whether he
was absorbed in thought or dozing like
a dog. with one eye open. At all
events, he kept his reflections to
himself.
What a relief it was to our friend
when the carriage drew up at the
frontier








76 A STRANGE LETTER.


frontier station, and Mr. Karl's big
hooded head appeared at the window.

"So it is you, Herr Graf-you
travel late," he said.

Not for my pleasure."

With you is-?"

The gentleman you would have
lodged yesterday;" and Herr Graf
laughed, and the soldier laughed also.

The Englishman was too impatient
to be. off again to be annoyed at this
rudeness, except inasmuch as it was a
cause of delay. However, not much
time was wasted in laughing. The
huge gate was unlocked and swung
back, "good-nights" were exchanged,
and the carriage rolled on again into
the darkness, leaving the.guardhouse,
and its tenants behind.







.A STRANGE LETTER. 7.7

It was some comfort to the English-
man to reflect that a good three-fourths
of his journey was over; but this
comfort failed him when he found
what a time the last fourth was taking.
Perhaps it was the road was worse,
perhaps the horses were tired out,
perhaps the driver was getting sleepy.
From some cause or other the pace
got poorer and poorer, till it lapsed
into a lazy walk.

At last the Englishman could endure
it no longer, and begged his comrade
to interfere, and either make the driver
push on a bit, or leave him and his
horses and go into town on foot.

The German, roused from his dog's
sleep, put his head out and swore at
the driver. The swearing had a
temporary effect, but only a temporary
one, and had to be. repeated several
times.








78 A STRANGE LETTER.


times. In this way the monotony of
the last mile or two was relieved.

The rest of the story is soon told.
By Herr Graf's directions the carriage
drew up at a small house with a light
over the door, in a bye-street in Stass-
furt. He and his travelling companion
alighted, and were at once admitted.
It proved to be a sort of watch station,
and the call there was made for the
purpose of borrowing two watchmen.

Now," said Herr Graf, as soon as
he and his assistants had adjusted their
arms and fortified themselves with a
glass of schnapps,"lead on, Mr. English-
man, and if the Burmeister has not
been forewarned we'll take him before
the morning light."

It was nearly an hour past-midnight
when the little'party arrived at the inn.
Just








A STRANGE LETTER.


Just as the Englishman was about
to ring the bell, Herr Graf stopped
him. "Surely," he said, "this can never
be where A.F.B.B. is hiding-he could
never have the assurance to put up at
this hotel after running away with the
landlord's horses."

"The writer of the letter is now
lodging at this inn," was the reply.

On your oath ?"

By all I hold sacred, I believe it."

Herr Graf posted one of his watch-
men at the back of the house and one
in front, and then rang.

The landlady herself opened the
door.

On seeing the Englishman she
clapped her hands. Oh, sir, I am so
glad you are come," she said. "Your
good








80 A STRANGE LETTER.


good wife has expected you these two
hours." And forthwith she took our
friend up-stairs. Herr Graf attempted
to follow, but was checked by the
landlady outside the apartment with
furniture from Hanover English
made.

My Frank," cried a happy voice
from the fourpost bed, "I am so pleased
to see you. They have all been very
kind to me, but I did so want to have
you here." And the wife turned down
the coverlet and exposed a flannel
bundle, with a wee pink face peeping
out at the top. "A. F. B. B." she ex-
plained, I did so want to show him
to you.

"Want to show me A. F. B. B.?"
repeated the puzzled husband, after
kissing first the mother and -then the
child.
"Why,








A STRANGE LETTER.


"Why, of course, I did. Now, isn't
he a little beauty ?"

"A little beauty ?"

"Look at him again, sir, and say if
he isn't."

So this is A. F. B. B.," said the
father stroking the tiny warm head.

To be sure, A Fine Big Boy. So
he is, every bit of it." And the wife
put her arms round husband and son
till she wept with joy.

Suddenly she held her breath.
" Listen," she said, is there not a man
in the passage outside ?"

"Yes, my love-never mind him."

Hark! He is talking to the land-
lady."
So








82 A STRANGE LETTER.


So A. F. B. B. is not the Bur-
meister ?" asked Herr Graf angrily.

"The Burmeister?" returned the
landlady. No, you goose, it's the
young master."

"And who was the big fine boy ?"
asks. little Francis, not quite under-
standing the last part of the tale.

"Why, you were, my darling, and
are now," replies mamma. Don't
you see, my pet, the Englishman was
papa, and the letter, Please come
soon, soon-A. F. B. B.,' was to tell
him to hurry back to Stassfurt, as God
in his goodness had sent him a little
son.














Di 0raglon JignuP

BY THE SAME AUTHOR.








Opinions of the Press.














Opinions of the Press.


"Powerfully written."
Saturbap 1Review.


"The story is a short one, but it is well
written."
Queen.

A short pathetic story of the fatal results
of a lover's quarrel."
Literary W0orID.


"A brief story, powerfully working out an
ingeniously-constructed plot. The tale is
unconventional, and is marked not only by
a chaste style, but also by philosophic musing
and earnest thought."
Ipubitsberg' Circular.


"A pretty little literary conceit, wherein
love and sorrow, mystery and death, form
the changing tableaux of the story."
Cbristmai ookecIler.













"A weird but remarkable little story. It
is a striking fancy, and loses nothing from
the manner of telling and the admirably
good English in which it is told."
A cancbester Guarbian.

"The tale is told in easy language, and
with an original style."
'iancbester xamniner.

"A charming romance."
MBancbester Courier.

"The plot is thoroughly original and
skilfully worked up. All through it is a story
displaying much literary excellence.
Liverpool fIISecurp.

"A quaintly-printed little book, containing
a short and somewhat fantastical story."
scotsman.
"A well-written novelette."
Glasgow lberalD.

Quaint but very clever story."
1Rewcastle Cbronicle.













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