|Chapter 7||Contents||Chapter 9|
The last days of our life in the old homestead at Thalheim were hastening to a close, and there was barely time to put matters into the order necessitated by altered circumstances.
Our mother's future dwelling was to be in the house of a widowed aunt at Muenchingen, where a humble lodging had been offered her, and although it seemed scarcely possible to find space for herself and four children in the two or three little rooms placed at her disposal, still, in the absence of pecuniary means, she gratefully took advantage of our relative's kindness.
The expenses of removal exceeded her calculations, and left her in possession of a few gulden only. It was thus necessary to save every farthing, and she therefore decided to walk nine miles of the journey. The last night was watched through at the parsonage, now bare of all furniture, and a few sympathizing friends shared our vigil. At three in the morning we were to start, but before that time such heavy rain began, that we almost despaired of being able to walk; and yet a post-chaise awaited us, nine miles off, at six in the morning.
Just at this juncture, a ponderous double-teamed wagon rumbled tip the wood, and halted at our door. It belonged to a peasant, who had intended driving a load of corn to some distance, but seeing the rain, had postponed his business, to be able to offer us. his services, "so that no one might ever say that the villagers of Thalheim had let their pastor's widow walk out of their town in such a drenching storm of rain." Our party safely reached their new abode, having half way overtaken the carrier in charge of our furniture, who had, oddly enough, forgotten where he was to take it, and was asking all the people along the road whether they could tell him.
Our arrangements in the new quarters were the nec plus ultra8.1 of simplicity, yet the whole party soon came to feel happy, in spite of inconveniences. Not only our aunt and the landlord, who lived on respective flats of the same house, but the whole village beside, seemed intent on showing kindness to the grand-daughter of their former beloved pastor, Flattich. In truth, they had always done the same, for when, as children, they visited at Muenchingen, the rich peasants used to insist on giving us presents, and often accompanied us miles on our homeward way, carrying our knapsacks. Indeed some years before, when I had entered the Seminary at Maulbronn, the wife of a farmer at Muenchingen sent an order to an acquaintance living near me to furnish me with a large bowl of bread and milk every morning, at her expense. I did not know whence this daily meal fell to my share, but it caused great satisfaction to me and the various friends who helped me despatch it. This is only one instance of the affection of these peasants for the memory of their old pastor, after a lapse of forty years from his death. Indeed to this day, the mention of his name quickens the beat of those warm faithful hearts.
Soon after the arrival at Muenchingen, three of the boys came home for their vacation. The small parlor scarcely sufficed to hold us all, but the great joy of being together again was not disturbed by the narrow limits of our dwelling. A fresh trouble, however, and one which could not be so easily put aside, now made itself felt. Our funds had come to an end, and the store, of household provisions melted away perceptibly, so that one evening there was nothing for it, but for us to go fasting to bed This was too much for our mother, and she said: "Am I to have my children here, and not even be able to give them food? God cannot mean this to be so!" And without more ado, she threw herself on the ground beside the stove, and wrestled in earnest prayer the whole night through, and when we entered the next morning there she still lay. We tried to raise her, and said: "Dear mother, let us breakfast. Even if there is not earthly food provided, we still have the bread which is come down, from, heaven, the Word of God. We will gather round that and enjoy it." But our words, availed nothing; she still lay, while we, seating ourselves, opened our Bibles, read, sang, and prayed.
Hardly had we said Amen, when a well dressed, veiled lady entered, after knocking, and begged to speak to our sister in private. Beate led her to an attic, apologizing for having no other place of reception. And then the lady, the widow of a professor from the neighboring village of Kornthal, explained herself thus:
"I cannot think what has come over me this morning. I woke at six o'clock with these words in my ear, 'Get up, and take something out of your purse to Madame Paulus, at Muenchingen.' I demurred, never having heard that she was in need of money: but the same impression repeated itself upon my mind continually, and each time in a more lively manner, until at last, in despair of getting any peace, I yielded. So I come, begging you to accept this sum, although I do not know whether you want it or not." With grateful joy, Beate took the little packet of coin, and after our visitor had gone, came down, triumphantly holding it in her hand, whilst she cried, "Now, mother, rise! Our distress is over. God has sent a widow from Kornthal to bring you this help."
|Chapter 7||Contents||Chapter 9|