Gertrude's Marriage

Language: English
Published: 1 month ago
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"Really, Frank, if I were in your place I shouldn't know whether to laugh or cry. It has always been the height of my ambition to have a fortune left me, but as with everything in this earthly existence, I should have my preferences.

"Upon my word, Frank, I am sorry for you. Here you are with an inheritance fallen into your lap that you never even dreamed of, a sort of an estate, a few hundred acres and meadows, a little woodland, a garden run wild, a neglected dwelling-house, and for stock four spavined Andalusians, six dried-up old cows, and above all an old aunt who apparently unites the attributes of both horses and cows in her own person. Boy, at least wring your hands or scold or do something of the sort, but don't stand there the very picture of mute despair!"

Judge Weishaupt spoke thus in comic wrath to his friend Assessor Linden, who sat opposite him. Before them on the table stood a bottle of Rhine wine with glasses, and the eyes of the person thus addressed rested on the empty bottle with a thoughtful expression, as if he could read an answer on the label.

It was a large room in which they were sitting, a sort of garden-hall, furnished very simply and in an old-fashioned style, with two birchen corner-cupboards, which in our grandmother's time served the purpose of the present elegant buffets, and which, instead of costly majolica, displayed painted and gold-rimmed cups behind their glass doors; with a large sofa, whose black horse-hair covering never for a moment suggested the possibility of soft luxurious repose; with six simply-constructed cane-seated chairs grouped about the large table, and finally, with several dubious family portraits, among which especially to be noted was the pastel portrait of a youthful fair-haired beauty, whose impossibly small mouth wore an embarrassed smile as if to say: "I beg you to believe that I did not really look so silly as this!" And over all this bright orange-colored curtains shed a peculiarly unpleasant light.

The door of the room was open and as if in compensation for all this want of taste, a wonderful prospect spread itself out before the eye. Lofty wooded mountain tops, covered with rich foliage which the autumn frosts had already turned into brilliant colors, formed the background; close by, the neglected garden, picturesque enough in its wild state, and shimmering through the trees, the red pointed roofs of the village; the whole veiled with the soft haze of an October morning, which the rays of the sun had not yet dispersed. The regular strokes of the flails on the threshing floors of the estate had a pleasant sound in the clear morning air.

The young man's dark eyes strayed away from the wine-bottle; he started up suddenly and went to the door.

"And in spite of all that, Richard, it is a charming spot," he said warmly. "I have always had a great liking for North Germany. I assure you 'Faust' is twice as interesting here, where the Brocken looks down upon you. Don't croak so like an old raven any more, I beg of you....