PEARL

MICHAEL KOHLHAAS Part Seven

Now it came to pass that towards evening when the wine and the enjoyment of a sumptuous dessert had dispelled the whole incident from the minds of the ladies and gentlemen, the high bailiff proposed that they once again lie in wait for a herd of deer that had been sighted. The whole company gladly seized on the suggestion and, armed with rifles, hurried off in pairs over ditches and hedges into the nearby forest, so that the elector and Lady Heloise, who not wanting to miss the spectacle clung to his arm, were led by a messenger who had been assigned to them directly, to their astonishment, through the courtyard of the house in which Kohlhaas was staying with the Brandenburg troopers escorting him.

The lady, when she heard this, said, ‘Come, gracious sovereign, come,’ and playfully tucking away the chain that hung from his neck inside his silk vest added, ‘let us sneak into the farmhouse before the others get here and have a look at the strange man who is spending the night in there!’

The elector, blushing, grasped her hand and uttered: ‘Heloise! How dare you!’ But when, looking at him in surprise, she replied that no one would recognise him in the huntsman attire he was wearing and dragged him along, and at that very moment a couple of hunting squires who had already satisfied their curiosity emerged from the house and assured them that in fact, because of the precautions taken by the high bailiff, neither the knight nor the horse dealer knew what company was gathered in the vicinity of Dahme, the elector pulled his hat down over his eyes and, smiling, said, ‘Folly, you rule the world, and your seat is a beautiful woman’s lips.’

Kohlhaas happened to be sitting on a bundle of straw with his back against the wall, feeding a roll and milk to his child who had fallen ill in Herzberg, when the eminent guests entered the dairy farmstead to pay him a visit. When the lady, to start a conversation, asked him who he was and what was wrong with the child, also what crime he had committed and where he was being taken with such an escort, Kohlhaas doffed his leather to her and, while continuing about his business, gave sparse but satisfactory answers to the questions. The elector, who was standing behind the hunting squires, noticed a small leaden locket hanging on a silk string round the horse dealer’s neck and, for want of anything better to say, asked him what it meant and what was in it.

Keep your face always toward the sunshine - and shadows will fall behind you.
Walt Whitman

Kohlhaas replied: ‘Ah yes, gracious sir, this locket’ – and slipping it off his neck, opened it and took out a small piece of paper sealed with a wafer – ‘there is a strange tale about this locket! It may be some seven months ago, on the very day after my wife's funeral, when I had set out from Kohlhaasenbrück, as you perhaps know, in order to lay my hands upon Squire von Tronka, who had done me much wrong, that in Jüterbock, a market town that was on my way, the elector of Saxony and the elector of Brandenburg were meeting

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