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The Mother Of Pansies






Anna Voss, of Siebenstein, was the prettiest girl in her village. Never
was she absent from a fair or a dance. No one ever saw her abroad
anything but merry. If she had her fits of bad temper, she kept them for
her mother, in the secrecy of the house. Her voice was like that of the
lark, and her smile like the May morning. She had plenty of suitors, for
she was possessed of what a young peasant desires more in a wife than
beauty, and that is money.

But of all the young men who hovered about her, and sought her favour,
none was destined to win it save Joseph Arler, the ranger, a man in a
government position, whose duty was to watch the frontier against
smugglers, and to keep an eye on the game against poachers.

The eve of the marriage had come.

One thing weighed on the pleasure-loving mind of Anna. She dreaded
becoming a mother of a family which would keep her at home, and occupy
her from morn to eve in attendance on her children, and break the
sweetness of her sleep at night.

So she visited an old hag named Schaendelwein, who was a reputed witch,
and to whom she confided her trouble.

The old woman said that she had looked into the mirror of destiny,
before Anna arrived, and she had seen that Providence had ordained that
Anna should have seven children, three girls and four boys, and that one
of the latter was destined to be a priest.

But Mother Schaendelwein had great powers; she could set at naught the
determinations of Providence; and she gave to Anna seven pips, very much
like apple-pips, which she placed in a cornet of paper; and she bade her
cast these one by one into the mill-race, and as each went over the
mill-wheel, it ceased to have a future, and in each pip was a child's
soul.

So Anna put money into Mother Schaendelwein's hand and departed, and when
it was growing dusk she stole to the wooden bridge over the mill-stream,
and dropped in one pip after another. As each fell into the water she
heard a little sigh.

But when it came to casting in the last of the seven she felt a sudden
qualm, and a battle in her soul.

However, she threw it in, and then, overcome by an impulse of remorse,
threw herself into the stream to recover it, and as she did so she
uttered a cry.

But the water was dark, the floating pip was small, she could not see
it, and the current was rapidly carrying her to the mill-wheel, when the
miller ran out and rescued her.

On the following morning she had completely recovered her spirits, and
laughingly told her bridesmaids how that in the dusk, in crossing the
wooden bridge, her foot had slipped, she had fallen into the stream, and
had been nearly drowned. "And then," added she, "if I really had been
drowned, what would Joseph have done?"

The married life of Anna was not unhappy. It could hardly be that in
association with so genial, kind, and simple a man as Joseph. But it was
not altogether the ideal happiness anticipated by both. Joseph had to be
much away from home, sometimes for days and nights together, and Anna
found it very tedious to be alone. And Joseph might have calculated on a
more considerate wife. After a hard day of climbing and chasing in the
mountains, he might have expected that she would have a good hot supper
ready for him. But Anna set before him whatever came to hand and cost
least trouble. A healthy appetite is the best of sauces, she remarked.

Moreover, the nature of his avocation, scrambling up rocks and breaking
through an undergrowth of brambles and thorns, produced rents and
fraying of stockings and cloth garments. Instead of cheerfully
undertaking the repairs, Anna grumbled over each rent, and put out his
garments to be mended by others. It was only when repair was urgent that
she consented to undertake it herself, and then it was done with sulky
looks, muttered reproaches, and was executed so badly that it had to be
done over again, and by a hired workwoman.

But Joseph's nature was so amiable, and he was so fond of his pretty
wife, that he bore with those defects, and turned off her murmurs with a
joke, or sealed her pouting lips with a kiss.

There was one thing about Joseph that Anna could not relish. Whenever he
came into the village, he was surrounded, besieged by the children.
Hardly had he turned the corner into the square, before it was known
that he was there, and the little ones burst out of their parents'
houses, broke from their sister nurse's arms, to scamper up to Joseph
and to jump about him. For Joseph somehow always had nuts or almonds or
sweets in his pockets, and for these he made the children leap, or
catch, or scramble, or sometimes beg, by putting a sweet on a boy's nose
and bidding him hold it there, till he said "Catch!"

Joseph had one particular favourite among all this crew, and that was a
little lame boy with a white, pinched face, who hobbled about on
crutches.

Him Joseph would single out, take him on his knee, seat himself on the
steps of the village cross or of the churchyard, and tell him stories of
his adventures, of the habits of the beasts of the forest.

Anna, looking out of her window, could see all this; and see how before
Joseph set the poor cripple down, the child would throw its arms round
his neck and kiss him.

Then Joseph would come home with his swinging step and joyous face.

Anna resented that his first attention should be given to the children,
regarding it as her due, and she often showed her displeasure by the
chill of her reception of her husband. She did not reproach him in set
words, but she did not run to meet him, jump into his arms, and respond
to his warm kisses.

Once he did venture on a mild expostulation. "Annerl, why do you not
knit my socks or stocking-legs? Home-made is heart-made. It is a pity to
spend money on buying what is poor stuff, when those made by you would
not only last on my calves and feet, but warm the cockles of my heart."

To which she replied testily: "It is you who set the example of throwing
money away on sweet things for those pestilent little village brats."

One evening Anna heard an unusual hubbub in the square, shouts and
laughter, not of children alone, but of women and men as well, and next
moment into the house burst Joseph very red, carrying a cradle on his
head.

"What is this fooling for?" asked Anna, turning crimson.

"An experiment, Annerl, dearest," answered Joseph, setting down the
cradle. "I have heard it said that a wife who rocks an empty cradle soon
rocks a baby into it. So I have bought this and brought it to you. Rock,
rock, rock, and when I see a little rosebud in it among the snowy linen,
I shall cry for joy."

Never before had Anna known how dull and dead life could be in an empty
house. When she had lived with her mother, that mother had made her do
much of the necessary work of the house; now there was not much to be
done, and there was no one to exercise compulsion.

If Anna ran out and visited her neighbours, they proved to be
disinclined for a gossip. During the day they had to scrub and bake and
cook, and in the evening they had their husbands and children with them,
and did not relish the intrusion of a neighbour.

The days were weary days, and Anna had not the energy or the love of
work to prompt her to occupy herself more than was absolutely necessary.
Consequently, the house was not kept scrupulously clean. The glass and
the pewter and the saucepans did not shine. The window-panes were dull.
The house linen was unhemmed.

One evening Joseph sat in a meditative mood over the fire, looking into
the red embers, and what was unusual with him, he did not speak.

Anna was inclined to take umbrage at this, when all at once he looked
round at her with his bright pleasant smile and said, "Annerl! I have
been thinking. One thing is wanted to make us supremely happy--a baby in
the house. It has not pleased God to send us one, so I propose that we
both go on pilgrimage to Mariahilf to ask for one."

"Go yourself--I want no baby here," retorted Anna.

A few days after this, like a thunderbolt out of a clear sky, came the
great affliction on Anna of her husband's death.

Joseph had been found shot in the mountains. He was quite dead. The
bullet had pierced his heart. He was brought home borne on green
fir-boughs interlaced, by four fellow-jaegers, and they carried him into
his house. He had, in all probability, met his death at the hand of
smugglers.

With a cry of horror and grief Anna threw herself on Joseph's body and
kissed his pale lips. Now only did she realise how deeply all along she
had loved him--now that she had lost him.

Joseph was laid in his coffin preparatory to the interment on the
morrow. A crucifix and two candles stood at his head on a little table
covered with a white cloth. On a stool at his feet was a bowl containing
holy water and a sprig of rue.

A neighbour had volunteered to keep company with Anna during the night,
but she had impatiently, without speaking, repelled the offer. She would
spend the last night that he was above ground alone with her dead--alone
with her thoughts.

And what were those thoughts?

Now she remembered how indifferent she had been to his wishes, how
careless of his comforts; how little she had valued his love, had
appreciated his cheerfulness, his kindness, his forbearance, his equable
temper.

Now she recalled studied coldness on her part, sharp words, mortifying
gestures, outbursts of unreasoning and unreasonable petulance.

Now she recalled Joseph scattering nuts among the children, addressing
kind words to old crones, giving wholesome advice to giddy youths.

She remembered now little endearments shown to her, the presents brought
her from the fair, the efforts made to cheer her with his pleasant
stories and quaint jokes. She heard again his cheerful voice as he
strove to interest her in his adventures of the chase.

As she thus sat silent, numbed by her sorrow, in the faint light cast by
the two candles, with the shadow of the coffin lying black on the floor
at her feet, she heard a stumping without; then a hand was laid on the
latch, the door was timidly opened, and in upon his crutches came the
crippled boy. He looked wistfully at her, but she made no sign, and then
he hobbled to the coffin and burst into tears, and stooped and kissed
the brow of his dead friend.

Leaning on his crutches, he took his rosary and said the prayers for the
rest of her and his Joseph's soul; then shuffled awkwardly to the foot,
dipped the spray of rue, and sprinkled the dead with the blessed water.

Next moment the ungainly creature was stumping forth, but after he had
passed through the door, he turned, looked once more towards the dead,
put his hand to his lips, and wafted to it his final farewell.

Anna now took her beads and tried to pray, but her prayers would not
leave her lips; they were choked and driven back by the thoughts which
crowded up and bewildered her. The chain fell from her fingers upon her
lap, lay there neglected, and then slipped to the floor. How the time
passed she knew not, neither did she care. The clock ticked, and she
heard it not; the hours sounded, and she regarded them not till in at
her ear and through her brain came clear the call of the wooden cuckoo
announcing midnight.

Her eyes had been closed. Now suddenly she was roused, and they opened
and saw that all was changed.

The coffin was gone, but by her instead was the cradle that years ago
Joseph had brought home, and which she had chopped up for firewood. And
now in that cradle lay a babe asleep, and with her foot she rocked it,
and found a strange comfort in so doing.

She was conscious of no sense of surprise, only a great welling up of
joy in her heart. Presently she heard a feeble whimper and saw a
stirring in the cradle; little hands were put forth gropingly. Then she
stooped and lifted the child to her lap, and clasped it to her heart.
Oh, how lovely was that tiny creature! Oh, how sweet in her ears its
appealing cry! As she held it to her bosom the warm hands touched her
throat, and the little lips were pressed to her bosom. She pressed it to
her. She had entered into a new world, a world of love and light and
beauty and happiness unspeakable. Oh! the babe--the babe--the babe! She
laughed and cried, and cried and laughed and sobbed for very exuberance
of joy. It brought warmth to her heart, it made every vein tingle, it
ingrained her brain with pride. It was hers!--her own!--her very own!
She could have been content to spend an eternity thus, with that little
one close, close to her heart.

Then as suddenly all faded away--the child in her arms was gone as a
shadow; her tears congealed, her heart was cramped, and a voice spoke
within her: "It is not, because you would not. You cast the soul away,
and it went over the mill-wheel."

Wild with terror, uttering a despairing cry, she started up, straining
her arms after the lost child, and grasping nothing. She looked about
her. The light of the candles flickered over the face of her dead
Joseph. And tick, tick, tick went the clock.

She could endure this no more. She opened the door to leave the room,
and stepped into the outer chamber and cast herself into a chair. And
lo! it was no more night. The sun, the red evening sun, shone in at the
window, and on the sill were pots of pinks and mignonette that filled
the air with fragrance.

And there at her side stood a little girl with shining fair hair, and
the evening sun was on it like the glory about a saint. The child raised
its large blue eyes to her, pure innocent eyes, and said: "Mother, may I
say my Catechism and prayers before I go to bed?"

Then Anna answered and said: "Oh, my darling! My dearest Baerbchen! All
the Catechism is comprehended in this: Love God, fear God, always do
what is your duty. Do His will, and do not seek only your own pleasure
and ease. And this will give you peace--peace--peace."

The little girl knelt and laid her golden head on her folded hands upon
Anna's knee and began: "God bless dear father, and mother, and all my
dear brothers and sisters."

Instantly a sharp pang as a knife went through the heart of Anna, and
she cried: "Thou hast no father and no mother and no brothers and no
sisters, for thou art not, because I would not have thee. I cast away
thy soul, and it went over the mill-wheel."

The cuckoo called one. The child had vanished. But the door was thrown
open, and in the doorway stood a young couple--one a youth with fair
hair and the down of a moustache on his lip, and oh, in face so like to
the dead Joseph. He held by the hand a girl, in black bodice and with
white sleeves, looking modestly on the ground. At once Anna knew what
this signified. It was her son Florian come to announce that he was
engaged, and to ask his mother's sanction.

Then said the young man, as he came forward leading the girl: "Mother,
sweetest mother, this is Susie, the baker's daughter, and child of your
old and dear friend Vronie. We love one another; we have loved since we
were little children together at school, and did our lessons out of one
book, sitting on one bench. And, mother, the bakehouse is to be passed
on to me and to Susie, and I shall bake for all the parish. The good
Jesus fed the multitude, distributing the loaves through the hands of
His apostles. And I shall be His minister feeding His people here.
Mother, give us your blessing."

Then Florian and the girl knelt to Anna, and with tears of happiness in
her eyes she raised her hands over them. But ere she could touch them
all had vanished. The room was dark, and a voice spake within her:
"There is no Florian; there would have been, but you would not. You cast
his soul into the water, and it passed away for ever over the
mill-wheel."

In an agony of terror Anna sprang from her seat. She could not endure
the room, the air stifled her; her brain was on fire. She rushed to the
back door that opened on a kitchen garden, where grew the pot-herbs and
cabbages for use, tended by Joseph when he returned from his work in the
mountains.

But she came forth on a strange scene. She was on a battlefield. The air
was charged with smoke and the smell of gunpowder. The roar of cannon
and the rattle of musketry, the cries of the wounded, and shouts of
encouragement rang in her ears in a confused din.

As she stood, panting, her hands to her breast, staring with wondering
eyes, before her charged past a battalion of soldiers, and she knew by
their uniforms that they were Bavarians. One of them, as he passed,
turned his face towards her; it was the face of an Arler, fired with
enthusiasm, she knew it; it was that of her son Fritz.

Then came a withering volley, and many of the gallant fellows fell,
among them he who carried the standard. Instantly, Fritz snatched it
from his hand, waved it over his head, shouted, "Charge, brothers, fill
up the ranks! Charge, and the day is ours!"

Then the remnant closed up and went forward with bayonets fixed, tramp,
tramp. Again an explosion of firearms and a dense cloud of smoke rolled
before her and she could not see the result.

She waited, quivering in every limb, holding her breath--hoping,
fearing, waiting. And as the smoke cleared she saw men carrying to the
rear one who had been wounded, and in his hand he grasped the flag. They
laid him at Anna's feet, and she recognised that it was her Fritz. She
fell on her knees, and snatching the kerchief from her throat and
breast, strove to stanch the blood that welled from his heart. He looked
up into her eyes, with such love in them as made her choke with emotion,
and he said faintly: "Muetterchen, do not grieve for me; we have stormed
the redoubt, the day is ours. Be of good cheer. They fly, they fly,
those French rascals! Mother, remember me--I die for the dear
Fatherland."

And a comrade standing by said: "Do not give way to your grief, Anna
Arler; your son has died the death of a hero."

Then she stooped over him, and saw the glaze of death in his eyes, and
his lips moved. She bent her ear to them and caught the words: "I am
not, because you would not. There is no Fritz; you cast my soul into the
brook and I was carried over the mill-wheel."

All passed away, the smell of the powder, the roar of the cannon, the
volumes of smoke, the cry of the battle, all--to a dead hush. Anna
staggered to her feet, and turned to go back to her cottage, and as she
opened the door, heard the cuckoo call two.

But, as she entered, she found herself to be, not in her own room and
house--she had strayed into another, and she found herself not in a lone
chamber, not in her desolate home, but in the midst of a strange family
scene.

A woman, a mother, was dying. Her head reposed on her husband's breast
as he sat on the bed and held her in his arms.

The man had grey hair, his face was overflowed with tears, and his eyes
rested with an expression of devouring love on her whom he supported,
and whose brow he now and again bent over to kiss.

About the bed were gathered her children, ay, and also her
grandchildren, quite young, looking on with solemn, wondering eyes on
the last throes of her whom they had learned to cling to and love with
all the fervour of their simple hearts. One mite held her doll, dangling
by the arm, and the forefinger of her other hand was in her mouth. Her
eyes were brimming, and sobs came from her infant breast. She did not
understand what was being taken from her, but she wept in sympathy with
the rest.

Kneeling by the bed was the eldest daughter of the expiring woman,
reciting the Litany of the Dying, and the sons and another daughter and
a daughter-in-law repeated the responses in voices broken with tears.

When the recitation of the prayers ceased, there ensued for a while a
great stillness, and all eyes rested on the dying woman. Her lips
moved, and she poured forth her last petitions, that left her as rising
flakes of fire, kindled by her pure and ardent soul. "O God, comfort
and bless my dear husband, and ever keep Thy watchful guard over my
children and my children's children, that they may walk in the way that
leads to Thee, and that in Thine own good time we may all--all be
gathered in Thy Paradise together, united for evermore. Amen."

A spasm contracted Anna's heart. This woman with ecstatic, upturned
gaze, this woman breathing forth her peaceful soul on her husband's
breast, was her own daughter Elizabeth, and in the fine outline of her
features was Joseph's profile.

All again was hushed. The father slowly rose and quitted his position on
the bed, gently laid the head on the pillow, put one hand over the eyes
that still looked up to heaven, and with the fingers of the other
tenderly arranged the straggling hair on each side of the brow. Then
standing and turning to the rest, with a subdued voice he said: "My
children, it has pleased the Lord to take to Himself your dear mother
and my faithful companion. The Lord's will be done."

Then ensued a great burst of weeping, and Anna's eyes brimmed till she
could see no more. The church bell began to toll for a departing spirit.
And following each stroke there came to her, as the after-clang of the
boom: "There is not, there has not been, an Elizabeth. There would have
been all this--but thou wouldest it not. For the soul of thy Elizabeth
thou didst send down the mill-stream and over the wheel."

Frantic with shame, with sorrow, not knowing what she did, or whither
she went, Anna made for the front door of the house, ran forth and stood
in the village square.

To her unutterable amazement it was vastly changed. Moreover, the sun
was shining brightly, and it gleamed over a new parish church, of cut
white stone, very stately, with a gilded spire, with windows of
wondrous lacework. Flags were flying, festoons of flowers hung
everywhere. A triumphal arch of leaves and young birch trees was at the
graveyard gate. The square was crowded with the peasants, all in their
holiday attire.

Silent, Anna stood and looked around. And as she stood she heard the
talk of the people about her.

One said: "It is a great thing that Johann von Arler has done for his
native village. But see, he is a good man, and he is a great architect."

"But why," asked another, "do you call him Von Arler? He was the son of
that Joseph the Jaeger who was killed by the smugglers in the mountains."

"That is true. But do you not know that the king has ennobled him? He
has done such great things in the Residenz. He built the new Town Hall,
which is thought to be the finest thing in Bavaria. He added a new wing
to the Palace, and he has rebuilt very many churches, and designed
mansions for the rich citizens and the nobles. But although he is such a
famous man his heart is in the right place. He never forgets that he was
born in Siebenstein. Look what a beautiful house he has built for
himself and his family on the mountain-side. He is there in summer, and
it is furnished magnificently. But he will not suffer the old, humble
Arler cottage here to be meddled with. They say that he values it above
gold. And this is the new church he has erected in his native
village--that is good."

"Oh! he is a good man is Johann; he was always a good and serious boy,
and never happy without a pencil in his hand. You mark what I say. Some
day hence, when he is dead, there will be a statue erected in his honour
here in this market-place, to commemorate the one famous man that has
been produced by Siebenstein. But see--see! Here he comes to the
dedication of the new church."

Then, through the throng advanced a blonde, middle-aged man, with broad
forehead, clear, bright blue eyes, and a flowing light beard. All the
men present plucked off their hats to him, and made way for him as he
advanced. But, full of smiles, he had a hand and a warm pressure, and a
kindly word and a question as to family concerns, for each who was near.

All at once his eye encountered that of Anna. A flash of recognition and
joy kindled it up, and, extending his arms, he thrust his way towards
her, crying: "My mother! my own mother!"

Then--just as she was about to be folded to his heart, all faded away,
and a voice said in her soul: "He is no son of thine, Anna Arler. He is
not, because thou wouldest not. He might have been, God had so purposed;
but thou madest His purpose of none effect. Thou didst send his soul
over the mill-wheel."

And then faintly, as from a far distance, sounded in her ear the call of
the cuckoo--three.

The magnificent new church had shrivelled up to the original mean little
edifice Anna had known all her life. The square was deserted, the cold
faint glimmer of coming dawn was visible over the eastern mountain-tops,
but stars still shone in the sky.

With a cry of pain, like a wounded beast, Anna ran hither and thither
seeking a refuge, and then fled to the one home and resting-place of the
troubled soul--the church. She thrust open the swing-door, pushed in,
sped over the uneven floor, and flung herself on her knees before the
altar.

But see! before that altar stood a priest in a vestment of
black-and-silver; and a serving-boy knelt on his right hand on a lower
stage. The candles were lighted, for the priest was about to say Mass.
There was a rustling of feet, a sound as of people entering, and many
were kneeling, shortly after, on each side of Anna, and still they came
on; she turned about and looked and saw a great crowd pressing in, and
strange did it seem to her eyes that all--men, women, and children,
young and old--seemed to bear in their faces something, a trace only in
many, of the Arler or the Voss features. And the little serving-boy, as
he shifted his position, showed her his profile--it was like her little
brother who had died when he was sixteen.

Then the priest turned himself about, and said, "Oremus." And she knew
him--he was her own son--her Joseph, named after his dear father.

The Mass began, and proceeded to the "Sursum corda"--"Lift up your
hearts!"--when the celebrant stood facing the congregation with extended
arms, and all responded: "We lift them up unto the Lord."

But then, instead of proceeding with the accustomed invocation, he
raised his hands high above his head, with the palms towards the
congregation, and in a loud, stern voice exclaimed--

"Cursed is the unfruitful field!"

"Amen."

"Cursed is the barren tree!"

"Amen."

"Cursed is the empty house!"

"Amen."

"Cursed is the fishless lake!"

"Amen."

"Forasmuch as Anna Arler, born Voss, might have been the mother of
countless generations, as the sand of the seashore for number, as the
stars of heaven for brightness, of generations unto the end of time,
even of all of us now gathered together here, but she would
not--therefore shall she be alone, with none to comfort her; sick, with
none to minister to her; broken in heart, with none to bind up her
wounds; feeble, and none to stay her up; dead, and none to pray for her,
for she would not--she shall have an unforgotten and unforgettable past,
and have no future; remorse, but no hope; she shall have tears, but no
laughter--for she would not. Woe! woe! woe!"

He lowered his hands, and the tapers were extinguished, the celebrant
faded as a vision of the night, the server vanished as an incense-cloud,
the congregation disappeared, melting into shadows, and then from
shadows to nothingness, without stirring from their places, and without
a sound.

And Anna, with a scream of despair, flung herself forward with her face
on the pavement, and her hands extended.

* * * * *

Two years ago, during the first week in June, an English traveller
arrived at Siebenstein and put up at the "Krone," where, as he was tired
and hungry, he ordered an early supper. When that was discussed, he
strolled forth into the village square, and leaned against the wall of
the churchyard. The sun had set in the valley, but the mountain-peaks
were still in the glory of its rays, surrounding the place as a golden
crown. He lighted a cigar, and, looking into the cemetery, observed
there an old woman, bowed over a grave, above which stood a cross,
inscribed "Joseph Arler," and she was tending the flowers on it, and
laying over the arms of the cross a little wreath of heart's-ease or
pansy. She had in her hand a small basket. Presently she rose and walked
towards the gate, by which stood the traveller.

As she passed, he said kindly to her: "Gruess Gott, Muetterchen."

She looked steadily at him and replied: "Honoured sir! that which is
past may be repented of, but can never be undone!" and went on her way.

He was struck with her face. He had never before seen one so full of
boundless sorrow--almost of despair.

His eyes followed her as she walked towards the mill-stream, and there
she took her place on the wooden bridge that crossed it, leaning over
the handrail, and looking down into the water. An impulse of curiosity
and of interest led him to follow her at a distance, and he saw her pick
a flower, a pansy, out of her basket, and drop it into the current,
which caught and carried it forward. Then she took a second, and allowed
it to fall into the water. Then, after an interval, a third--a fourth;
and he counted seven in all. After that she bowed her head on her hands;
her grey hair fell over them, and she broke into a paroxysm of weeping.

The traveller, standing by the stream, saw the seven pansies swept down,
and one by one pass over the revolving wheel and vanish.

He turned himself about to return to his inn, when, seeing a grave
peasant near, he asked: "Who is that poor old woman who seems so broken
down with sorrow?"

"That," replied the man, "is the Mother of Pansies."

"The Mother of Pansies!" he repeated.

"Well--it is the name she has acquired in the place. Actually, she is
called Anna Arler, and is a widow. She was the wife of one Joseph Arler,
a jaeger, who was shot by smugglers. But that is many, many years ago.
She is not right in her head, but she is harmless. When her husband was
brought home dead, she insisted on being left alone in the night by him,
before he was buried alone,--with his coffin. And what happened in that
night no one knows. Some affirm that she saw ghosts. I do not know--she
may have had Thoughts. The French word for these flowers is
pensees--thoughts--and she will have none others. When they are in her
garden she collects them, and does as she has done now. When she has
none, she goes about to her neighbours and begs them. She comes here
every evening and throws in seven--just seven, no more and no less--and
then weeps as one whose heart would split. My wife on one occasion
offered her forget-me-nots. 'No,' she said; 'I cannot send
forget-me-nots after those who never were, I can send only Pansies.'"





Next: The Red-haired Girl

Previous: The Leaden Ring



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