THE BANKRUPT.

FROM THE DANISH OF CARL BERNHARD.


About the end of the last century there lived in Copenhagen a wealthy merchant, whose name was Kraft. He was a proud, imperious man, who looked upon riches as the greatest of all advantages, and their possession as the universal, in fact, the only, passport to, or rather source of, happiness. He was extremely rich. His housekeeper declared that he was not able to count his money, he had so much; he measured his ducats by the bushel, and was certainly worth hundreds of thousands of dollars. Born in affluence, he had never seen the slightest diminution in the fortune which surrounded him, for his father's mercantile house was already in its third generation, having descended from father to son, without any lessening of its capital during that long period, as there never had been more than one son in the family. In consequence of this, the large means of the firm had remained undivided, and they had been enabled to extend their mercantile transactions over half the world. Their acceptances were as good as ready money. The present merchant Kraft had also an only son, but he had not, in accordance with the custom of his forefathers, taken him into partnership, for he must then have made over to him--at least in appearance--a portion of his supreme authority, and he was too haughty to share his power even with his only son. He had therefore established the young man in business on his own account, though, to a certain extent, under his own surveillance. Herr Kraft's wife had died at an early age; she had presented him with all he wished--a son, who might, in progress of time, carry on the affairs of the house and uphold its name and high credit. When she afterwards presented him with a daughter, he was so alarmed at the possibility of such gifts becoming too abundant, that he thought it rather a fortunate circumstance that the birth of this child cost its mother her life. The unwelcome little girl was sent to the care of an aunt, who brought her up, and it was not until she was a young woman that she returned to her father's house, where, however, she found no sympathy. Her brother was just married to a girl with a handsome fortune, and he had removed to a house of his own. The family now consisted of Herr Kraft, senior, his daughter, and his cousin, an old maiden lady, who was received as an inmate of his house after his wife's death, to give her a home, said Herr Kraft--that he might have some one to vent his ill-humour upon, said Miss Regine herself--that there should be another torment in the house, said the counting-house clerks and the domestic servants, who hated her and her fat, snoring pet, 'Mops,' as much as they feared Herr Kraft and loved his daughter. For Louise was their declared favourite, and, if need had been, they would all have gone through fire and water for her.

A complete contrast to the merchant was his relative, Herr Warner. He was of a mild, unassuming character; he could easily mould his own wishes to those of others, and he valued wealth only as a means of doing good. In all his actions he was guided much more by his feelings than his interests. The lives of these two gentlemen had been as different as were their characters. Herr Warner's parents had not been rich. His mother had made an unfortunate marriage, according to the merchant Kraft, for her husband had lost his small inheritance, and had gone abroad to seek for fortune under foreign skies. Herr Warner, on the contrary, considered that his mother had made a fortunate marriage, for her and her husband's mutual affection outlived the loss of their property, and if they did not become rich in the distant country to which they had gone, they at least obtained a competence there, and a peaceful, happy home.

After the death of his parents, their son went, with but a poor heritage, to the East Indies, where he married a young lady without any fortune. Good luck, however, seemed now to attend him; his cotton plantations throve well and yielded large returns, and a beloved wife and three fine children made his home a paradise. At the expiration of a few years he determined to return to his native country, there to enjoy the fruits of his labours. An infectious disease, however, just then carried off his wife and her elder children, and with his youngest daughter, who alone was left to him, he sailed from India. But she died on the voyage, and was committed to the deep. Thus deprived of every tie, friendless and hopeless, the much-afflicted man quitted the ship in a French port, and repairing to Paris, he resided there for some few years, endeavouring to while away his time in the pursuit of science and literature, the pursuit of wealth having lost all interest for him, who had no one now for whom he cared to work. At length he returned to his native city, where he lived quietly, frugally, and in great retirement, visiting at very few houses except at that of his cousin Herr Kraft, in whose family he appeared to take a warm interest; the regard, however, which he entertained for them all was only returned by the daughter, who became much attached to him. Herr Kraft made a point of disputing with him every day, and had so accustomed himself to this amiable habit, that he absolutely could not do without his relative and these demi-quarrels. There were many different opinions about the state of his finances. 'He must have saved something in the East Indies, where money is as plentiful as grass,' said some; but others, among whom was Herr Kraft, declared 'that he only had enough to make shift with, and it would be a wonder if the little he possessed should hold out during his life--for he was one of those persons whom Dame Fortune seldom favoured, as he did not put a proper value on her gifts, letting his money slip through his fingers by bestowing it on everyone who came with a whining tale to him, he was so foolishly soft-hearted.' And Herr Kraft was right there.

In the large drawing-room, which was furnished more richly than tastefully, and where everything looked stiff rather than comfortable, Herr Kraft and Herr Warner were pacing up and down. Their conversation had come to a stand. They had been disputing about some of the measures of the government, and Herr Kraft had called the government stupid and despotic; he said it took upon itself to be the guardian of the nation, and to treat the burghers as if they were children under age, prescribing for them, forsooth, what they were to do, and meddling in their own private affairs! He was as warm a supporter of free trade for the higher grade of merchants, as he was an advocate for restraints upon the working classes, for he looked upon all those in an humble sphere of life as 'trash, full of fraud and tricks,' who must have 'a rod held over their heads.' It was the old story--liberality for the higher, despotism for the lower; and this will be repeated till the end of the world. Herr Warner had differed from him in opinion; he thought confidence might be placed in a wise government, and he wished freedom and justice for all, whether they were rich or poor. The argument might have become an angry one, but Warner gave in, for he was anxious to avoid exasperating his violent-tempered cousin, to whom he had come that morning on a delicate mission, requiring no small degree of tact.

A very fine young man, who had been for some time much attached to Louise, and who had won her affections, had determined to ask her hand in a respectful letter to her father. But the reply he had received was a flat refusal, Herr Kraft having made up his mind to listen to no proposals for his daughter except from a suitor selected by himself. Louise wept and was very sad. 'Aunt Regine,' as she was styled, favoured her with sundry ill-natured dissertations upon ungrateful and disobedient children, Mops growled and snarled as if he were taking part with his mistress in the family disagreement, and the entire house and household appeared even more dull and silent than usual. Herr Warner exerted himself to the utmost to bring his cousin to reason, but in vain. Herr Kraft was much enraged that his daughter should have presumed, even at the house of his own sister, to have become intimate with any person who was unknown to him, and could not forgive her having dared even to think of anyone as a lover without his permission. 'And the fellow such a poor wretch into the bargain!' For what was a small landed property, not much bigger than a couple of peasants' cottages and cabbage gardens? He was of an ancient and noble family, it had been said--but what of that? He, Herr Kraft, did not care a straw for nobility; it was merely an idea--an imagination--that some men are to be better than others, because their forefathers, perhaps a hundred years ago, had been people of some renown. Herr Warner maintained that such an 'imagination' contained a moral obligation to be also a distinguished, or at least a worthy man, not to dishonour one's ancestors; and reminded his cousin that he himself was by no means indifferent to his descent.

'No, in that he was certainly right,' said the merchant: 'but he had good grounds for his pride in his forefathers, because for more than a hundred years they had been wealthy merchants, who had established and maintained a highly-esteemed commercial house. That was something solid--not mere fancy.' And then he went on exhibiting all that arrogance which is sometimes to be found among the rich burghers, who are quite as proud of their wealth, and their burgher's brief of a century old, as any nobleman of his genealogical table, or his forefathers' wounds or scars received on the field of glory. But Herr Warner had to go away without having disclosed his errand, and could only console poor Louise with the uncertain hope of a brighter future, in which, however, he himself had little confidence.

Soon after, her prospects became still darker. Herr Kraft gave notice suddenly one day that he had promised Louise to the son of one of his commercial friends, that the betrothal was to take place in eight days, and the wedding in three months. The husband destined for Louise was the son of a rich man, but he was far from handsome, and was still less agreeable. Aunt Regine bestirred herself to make every preparation for the betrothal; Louise implored with tears that her father would not insist on this sacrifice; she said she would give up the man she loved, to please him, but she could not marry another. Uncle Warner, as Louise called him, did all he could for her, and pleaded her cause with her father to the best of his ability; but Herr Kraft laughed--a thing he seldom did--at hearing him speak of true and faithful love. 'Sheer folly, childishness, absurd sentimentality and foolery, that would not pay a shilling of interest.'

'You will make your child miserable,' said Warner.

'On the contrary, she will get a husband worth half a plum, with the prospect of a great deal more,' said the father.

'That may be; but he squints, and has red flaming hair.'

'Bah! People don't notice these trifles after they are married.'

'But he is also dull and stupid, and obstinate and wearisome, and unfeeling and conceited--'

'Well! and what else? However, whatever he may be, she shall take him, and so--Basta!'

'She will not take him--she will throw herself into the sea rather.'

'Bah! It is both wet and cold in the sea. She will take him, because she shall do so. To-morrow we shall have the betrothal, as sure as my name is Kraft, and I will not hear another word on the subject. Will you give us the pleasure of your company at the betrothal? It will take place at seven o'clock in the evening, precisely.'

Herr Kraft and Aunt Regine were the only persons in the house who slept that night. Everyone else was kept awake by uneasiness and anxiety, and the unfortunate Louise cried till her eyes were so swollen, that in the morning she could hardly read a few lines which one of the housemaids brought to her from her sympathizing friend, Herr Warner, who was always anxious, as well as he could, to comfort the afflicted. After reading them, she wept still more bitterly, and the servant girl observed her wringing her hands in despair.

The day wore on, the evening came, and at seven o'clock precisely the invited guests had all arrived, forming quite a family congress of the members of the two wealthy mercantile houses. Uncle Warner was there also. In the morning he had requested an interview with the bridegroom, and had plainly stated to him that Louise loved another, and did not entertain even the slightest friendly feeling towards him; but the young man bristled up, thrust his hand conceitedly through his carotty locks, and looked into the corner of his own eyes, while he replied with the comforting assurance, that what he had been told was nothing to the purpose, it gave him no concern, and that he would not give up the match 'for any price,' as he expressed himself. Uncle Warner was deeply disappointed at his ill-success with the self-sufficient gentleman. They met again at the betrothal party, and the young man had arrayed himself, as he thought, to the best advantage, and looked as smiling as if he were awaiting a beloved and devoted bride. All was ready, and Aunt Regine went to Louise's apartment to bring her.

Heavens and earth! She was not there! She had gone! A letter lay on a table in her room, and that was all the information Aunt Regine could give. But old Maren had heard some one leave the house about an hour before, and almost at the same moment she had observed a carriage drive away, which had been standing at least a quarter of an hour in the street, as if the coachman were waiting for some one. There was presently an awful hubbub in the house. Herr Kraft rushed like a madman from room to room, Aunt Regine hobbled after him, doors were banged, and every corner of the mansion was searched, but Louise was nowhere to be found, and it was now certain that she had fled to escape the threatened evil. The letter she had left was then read, and a heart of stone might have melted at the anguish and the terror expressed in it, as well as the earnestness with which she prayed for forgiveness; every word breathed of a spirit that was utterly crushed and prostrate. But her father threw the letter into the fire, and exclaimed in a firm, harsh voice:

'I have no longer a daughter--her name shall never again be mentioned within my doors--I disown her--I--'

Uncle Warner caught his arm, and pressed it so tightly that he involuntarily stopped, and the curse he was about to utter was arrested on his lips. Aunt Regine began to howl with all her might.

The bridegroom and his family took their departure, and the rest of the party speedily followed their discreet example; Uncle Warner alone remained with the enraged father. But every attempt to mollify his anger, or to awaken in his mind any regret for the harshness by which he himself had driven his daughter to this desperate step, was addressed to deaf ears. Herr Kraft's wrath was only increased by every new argument the good Warner brought forward in the hope of allaying it, and at length he took his leave, expressing his intention of making every inquiry concerning the fate of the unfortunate fugitive. But just as he had left the room, the door was suddenly opened, and Herr Kraft roared after him, in an imperious voice:

'I desire to be troubled with no information you may gather; and with this--Basta!'

He then slammed the door so hard that the noise resounded throughout the whole house.

A whole year had elapsed, but time had worked no change in Herr Kraft's vindictive feelings. Constant fretting, however, had impaired his health, and he became ill. Uncle Warner thought it might be a good opportunity to soften his heart, and he led the conversation to the sad position of forsaken old age, and upon the comfort of an affectionate nurse amidst sickness and infirmities. But Herr Kraft replied that he could never be forsaken in his declining years, for he had a son, 'the heir of his house;' and as far as concerned illness and infirmities, the best attendant was some hired sick-nurse, for she thought only of the good wages she was to get, and it never entered her head to speculate upon what he might leave. He did not put any faith in all the babbling about affection and love, and such nonsense; it was self-interest and money that people thought of in this world, and those who had wealth would always get plenty of attention.

'But you might lose your fortune, you might become as poor as many others are, and then you would stand in need of affection, and learn to know its value,' said Herr Warner.

The rich merchant stared at him with contemptuous surprise; then, with a scornful laugh, he said:

'Yes, to be sure; the moon might fall down from the heavens, but it would not be necessary on that account to put up an umbrella. Don't tease me any more with such nonsense. Enough of it--Basta!'

Herr Kraft got better, and he resumed his accustomed rich man's life--the constant yearning and busy schemes to become richer; but in his cupidity he never thought of Providence.

The moon certainly did not fall from heaven, but within the space of three years, one fine morning, as Herr Kraft was lounging over his breakfast-table, and congratulating himself on being worth a very considerable sum of money, the postman brought him a large packet of letters. His spirits fell the moment he had read them, for they conveyed the startling and afflicting intelligence of a commercial crisis in a foreign country, which had caused the failure of many houses of old standing; and their failure had brought down several others. Among these sufferers was Herr Kraft himself. Yes, the wealthy Kraft, dragged down by others, was now a bankrupt! At that time bankruptcy was a more serious matter than it is now-a-days; a bankrupt never raised himself to fortune a second time, and there were then no instances of a man having failed several times, and yet being able to live on the fat of the land. However, credit, in those days, was a very different matter from what it is now.

Herr Kraft had failed--the honourable, ancient, commercial house was ruined, its riches and its lustre annihilated in a moment. What during a century, and by the zealous labour of several generations, had been gathered, had been destroyed by a single storm, and scattered like chaff before the wind! The cash-keeper suggested--and it was true what he said--that the ready money which was lying in their iron chest might be easily removed and placed somewhere else in security, and that it alone would be sufficient to yield a competency to any man for life. But Herr Kraft was a rigidly honest man, and had not the fall of the house thrown the cash-keeper also out of bread, he would have discharged him for advising such a fraudulent measure. Everything was given up, and as an honourable and respected, but a poor and ruined man, the lately so wealthy and so envied Herr Kraft took his departure from his forefathers' abode.

Herr Warner showed the warmest sympathy in his misfortunes. He immediately proposed that his cousin should come to his house, although he knew that he would have also to receive Aunt Regine and her pet, Mops. But Herr Kraft had already accepted his son's invitation to spend some time with him. This invitation to his house was perhaps not more than was due to a father who had placed him in so independent a position that he was now in easy circumstances, and had not lost anything by the failure of the house. But yes, he had lost the expected rich inheritance, the succession to the firm, &c. &c.; and as he was his father's son, and brought up in his ways, he was very well versed in the calculation of the interest of money, and in book-keeping by single and double entry, but knew little about humanity and kind feeling, which, from his earliest infancy, he had heard his father ridicule.

His failure was a cruel trial to old Herr Kraft; his pride was severely wounded, but his heart was not at all softened. During these sorrowful days, a letter was brought to him by the post, but, as he recognized his daughter's writing, he laid it aside, and when 'Uncle Warner' came, he handed it to him unopened, saying, 'If you know where the writer lives, be so good as to see that this is returned; and therewith--Basta!'

His residence in his son's house was destined to be another heavy trial. The son's wife was the ruler there, and she was far from amiable. Aunt Regine had always been an eyesore to her. Her long-winded prosing was now cut short and ridiculed, and her Mops dare scarcely put his nose outside the good lady's petticoats, under the shelter of which he lay snoring from morning till night. The endless talking about what everything cost, and the eternal reference to the advantage of having money, which formerly had never annoyed Herr Kraft, were now exceedingly disagreeable to him, and drew many a sigh from his oppressed heart. It was given out that everything was to be done to please him, and be heard several times a day these words: 'Whatever papa likes--our only desire is that papa may be comfortable in our house.' But he felt as often that these were empty phrases, a mere fašon de parler, and that his wishes, in reality, were never consulted. Had he known what heart was, he would have deplored their want of it; as it was, he only grieved for the loss of his fortune.

When a bubble that has been blown is nearly exhausted, an atom will make it burst. The life Herr Kraft led in his son's house was such, that he only waited for some event to form an excuse for leaving it; he could stand it no longer. The opportunity was not long wanting. His son's wife purchased a dog, which was double the size of Aunt Regine's Mops, and was a very pugnacious animal. It was a great amusement to the young couple to set the two dogs at each other, and they enjoyed exceedingly the terror which Hector's entrance into the room soon seemed to cause Mops, who, with as much speed as his fat would allow, would always waddle towards his mistress, and rush for protection under her garments, which she hospitably raised to admit him, sometimes, in her anxiety on his account, to a most ludicrous height. One day Herr Kraft was sitting on a sofa reading the newspapers, Aunt Regine was taking a quiet nap in an arm-chair, near, and Mops, seduced by the stillness and the warm sunshine, was stretched full length upon the carpet, as happy as dog could be. Suddenly the door of the room was opened, and the son's wife entered, accompanied by Hector. As quick as lightning the animal sprang forward and pounced upon the half-sleeping Mops, Aunt Regine started from her slumbers, and lifted her dress in her hurry up to her very knees, but before Mops could take flight to that open temple of peace, Hector had rendered the asylum useless--he had put an end to the poor favourite's existence, and Mops lay dead upon the floor! The son's wife was shaking with laughter at Aunt Regine's comical appearance, and was so amused that she forgot to call off her dog from Mops, and even when she saw the calamity that had occurred she could scarcely stop laughing. Herr Kraft witnessed this scene over his newspaper; his knitted eyebrows foretold a coming storm, but he mastered his anger, and taking Aunt Regine by the hand, he led her out of the room.

For the first time in his life he felt a sort of longing for a sympathizing friend, and sent to ask Herr Warner to come to him. That gentleman had been much engaged in the affairs of his cousin's bankruptcy, and had been striving to make the best possible arrangement with his creditors for him. Herr Kraft wished to know if he thought it would be possible to rescue as much as would enable him to live with great economy in some retired country place, for the short period of time he might still remain in this world. Nothing would induce him, he said, to remain longer in his son's house, or in Copenhagen, and he would not forsake Aunt Regine. Herr Warner encouraged him in this judicious plan, and promised to do his best to find a residence fur him that would suit, in all respects, 'an amiable family,' he added, 'where you can have the society of worthy people, and yet be as much alone as you choose. For in the days of adversity it is kind-hearted people to whom we cling, and in your son's house, though everything is very handsome and in the nicest order, there is no disposition to make anyone happy, and no trace of real hospitality.' Herr Kraft made no reply to these observations, and when his cousin was gone, he fell into deep thought.

A few days afterwards, the indefatigable friend brought him the information that he had been so fortunate as to find a family at some distance in the country who were willing to receive Herr Kraft and Aunt Regine. The terms were very reasonable, and the size of the house would admit of the host and his guest being quite independent of each other. The family was small, the gentleman was clever and well-educated, his wife, indeed, was absent from home for a time, having gone to some German baths on account of her health, but the house, nevertheless, was well managed. The country round was pretty, though the situation was rather lonely. 'The person in question is named Warner, like me,' said the cousin, 'but we are not at all of the same family. I take it for granted that his name will not be disagreeable to you.' Herr Kraft shook his hand with a friendly smile, and agreed to the arrangement. Two days after this he quitted his son's house, and went into the country, accompanied by Herr Warner, Aunt Regine, and old Maren, who for many years had been Herr Kraft's especial attendant, and was acquainted with all his ways. She was the only human being of whom he would have felt the want, she knew so well how he liked his bed made.

Uncle Warner's namesake received the travellers very politely on their arrival at their future home, and regretted that his wife was not there to welcome her guests; 'she was at present at the baths of Pyrmont,' he said, 'but would be back ere long.' Two fine children, half hidden by their father, gazed with curiosity at the strangers who were thenceforth to live with them. By the kind care of Uncle Warner, a portion of Herr Kraft's own furniture had been brought thither from Copenhagen, and he immediately found himself quite at home in his new sitting-room; every arrangement had been made with a view to his convenience, and the indulgence of his former habits. Aunt Regine's tastes and comforts had also been sedulously attended to; her bed-chamber contained all her favourite articles of furniture, and she had a delightful surprise on finding in a basket near the stove a second Mops, who licked her hand affectionately, and was so like her defunct pet 'of blessed memory,' that she instantly took a fancy to him.

Uncle Warner spent a few days with them, and then returned to town with the pleasing conviction that his cousin could not fail to be comfortable in his new abode. And so he certainly was. Herr Kraft began by degrees to associate with his host, whom he found to be a sensible, pleasant man, and whom he began gradually to like and respect. Before a month had elapsed, Herr Kraft had become so much accustomed to the quiet, secluded life he led, that he would have regretted leaving the peaceful home where he had found so much hitherto unknown comfort, and where he felt that, though stripped of his fortune, he was treated with much more attention than had ever been paid to him in the days of his affluence. Nature had hitherto been a sealed book to him; he now studied it in his wanderings amidst the charming scenery of the neighbourhood, and it spoke to him in language which he could never before have dreamed of understanding. He had never formerly taken any notice of children, but his host's two sweet children managed to insinuate themselves so much into his good graces, that he was always happy to see them, and have them about him. He could not imagine why he took such interest in them, but they were such good-tempered, pretty, clever little creatures, that it was impossible not to be pleased with them. And Aunt Regine liked them almost as much as her new Mops, and it almost as much as her first canine favourite, so that old Maren was right in saying:

'Well, this is really a blessed house we are in; we seem to have all become better-tempered since we have been here; even the master himself is quite a different creature, and does not find fault with his bed as he used to do; formerly, there was no making it to please him. And really now, when he sits leaning his cheek on his hand, wrapt up in his own thoughts, he looks quite a good old man.'

And Herr Kraft often sat with his cheek resting on his hand, wrapt up in his own thoughts, but what these were he communicated to no living being; perhaps they were hardly clear to himself, for they were frequently new and unaccustomed thoughts that came to him in his solitude.

Herr Warner occasionally paid him a short visit, and when he began to speak of commercial matters and the affairs of his late house, the old merchant would heave a deep sigh, and say: 'If everyone has been paid, and no one has lost anything by me, my wishes are fulfilled. I desire nothing more--my time is over--and therewith--Basta!'

But the word came forth like the echo of a sound--the ghost of a habit now almost forgotten; and this conclusion, which had so often caused consternation by its irrevocable vigour, seemed now almost sad.

About the time that the mistress of the house was expected back from Pyrmont, Herr Kraft felt very much indisposed, and when she reached home, he was labouring under a fever, the violence of which had made him delirious. In his delirium he sometimes fancied himself the rich man, whose commercial influence extended over half the world--sometimes impoverished and destitute, a dependant on those around him; but it was always on money that his fevered dreams dwelt, and the demons of gold fought their unhallowed battles in his clouded mind. In the course of a week or two this state of morbid excitement passed away, and was succeeded by an utter prostration of strength, an extreme degree of weakness, in which he lay, for the most part, with his eyes closed, as if sleeping. With how much kindness and solicitude was he not tended during that long illness! Day and night was his anxious hostess in his sick-room, and whenever he opened his eyes, they always rested on the same form. And when the crisis was over, the greatest danger was past, and all the family would assemble round his bed, anyone would have thought that he was a dear member of it, they treated him with so much affectionate attention.

One evening, in the dusk, when they had all left his room for a short time, and old Maren alone was sitting by his bedside, he suddenly opened his eyes and gazed around him, as if he were trying to recollect where he was, and what had happened to him. He then asked about the children. Maren clasped her hands in joy that her master had recovered to consciousness again, while he repeated his question, and added:

'Is it not true, Maren, that the boy is called Ludvig, and the girl Georgia? These are both my own names--'

'Well, that is very natural,' said Maren, significantly. 'What else should they be called?'

'Is my cousin Warner here?' asked the invalid soon after.

He was there, and Maren went immediately to call him. Herr Kraft made a sign to him to sit down near his couch, and another to Maren to leave them by themselves.

'Cousin,' he said, 'I see now how things are--I am in my daughter's house. I have been very ill, but I did not lose the use of my eyes, and Louise has watched by my bed, and attended me.'

Herr Warner nodded in affirmation of what he had said.

'You knew it all along. You took the place of her father when I threw her off--is it not so?'

Warner nodded again; he was so surprised to hear a person generally so stern and overbearing speak thus gently, that he could not utter a word for a moment.

'But her husband was not named Warner, and he had only a very small property, not such a large place as this? How are all these discrepancies to be reconciled?'

Herr Warner then related to him in a few words that his son-in-law had assumed his citizen-like name out of gratitude, because he had presented Louise with a considerable sum of money he had received from the East Indies, for which he had no use himself, but which had enabled the young couple to purchase this large property, where they had lived as happily as they could do while under the ban of his displeasure, and without having obtained his forgiveness. But now he would surely not longer withhold that, and they would all be happy together, for which he thanked God from the bottom of his heart.

To Herr Kraft it seemed all a romance. The discarded daughter had received and devotedly attended in his illness her harsh and unforgiving father; the scorned son-in-law had won his friendship and esteem; the poor cousin had been able to give away a fortune; and the rich merchant lay there an impoverished and repentant man.

'Money was in your hands only an instrument of doing good--to me it was an idol!' he exclaimed, after a silence of some duration. 'But I have learned to know that our Lord did not will money to be a primary consideration. It is all gone now, however!'

Herr Warner assured him that it was not all gone; there would be a surplus left for him after all the creditors were paid, and that he himself had a little money laid by, and they would commence business together; they would soon increase the capital, as Herr Kraft understood mercantile affairs so well. The bankrupt shook his head at these smiling prospects, and replied that his hours were numbered, and he had other employments for the few that might remain of them.

'Whilst I was so ill,' he continued, 'I had very singular dreams. It appeared to me as if an angel and a devil were contending which should get possession of me; the angel always resembled Louise, and at last she drove the devil away, and as he was going, I seemed to hear piles of money falling down, as it were, with a crash. It was a dreadful sound. But just then I heard a voice singing solemn hymns, and, lulled by the soothing melody, I felt a sense of peace and happiness steal over me. I sank into a deep sleep, and had such a charming dream--so charming that I cannot describe it.'

Herr Kraft folded his hands and fell back on his pillow somewhat exhausted, but apparently tranquil. In a few minutes, however, he became restless, and moved uneasily from side to side on his bed. Suddenly he raised himself till he sat upright, and cried, in an excited tone, 'Where is my daughter? Bring her to me--and her children--and her husband.'

Herr Warner summoned them all. Louise knelt by her father's bed, and kissed his hand, over which her tears fell fast. He took her hand and placed it in that of her husband, and then pressed his own hand on her head, as if invoking a blessing upon her. Warner brought the children to him, and he kissed them on their foreheads; he then stretched out both his hands to his cousin, but before the latter had time to clasp them, the invalid had fallen back on his pillow exhausted. It was a solemn moment, and one of entire reconciliation, without a word having been spoken; but they understood each other without words, for language is not always so necessary as many think.

A state of extreme exhaustion succeeded this exertion, and Herr Kraft lay for a long time perfectly quiet, with his eyes closed as if he were sleeping. The party who surrounded his bed felt relieved from a load of sorrow, and, full of hope that he would recover, they whispered cheerfully to each other. Late in the evening he awoke, and spoke of his son. 'Tell him,' said he, 'that I always loved him, but I was foolish in my way of showing my affection. Tell him that, exclusive of a provision for poor Maren, all that can be saved from the wreck of my fortune shall be divided between him and Aunt Regine. Louise, you have had more of a father in Uncle Warner than in me, and may God bless him for his kindness to you! You will all remember me, I know, with affection!'

He held out his hands to them all, and smiled cordially to them, but he retained Herr Warner's and Louise's hands in his. He then lay for a few moment in silence; his lips moved, however, though no sound was heard. Perhaps he was engaged in prayer. A little after he exclaimed half aloud:

'Is it not declared in the Bible, that "it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God?" The Almighty had placed much in my power. But He will be merciful to me! Everyone has got his own--I have defrauded none, and I possess nothing. Yet God has made me rich--and with that--Basta!'

A happy smile flitted over his countenance--a pleading remembrance for those who survived him. By midnight all was over; he had passed into the deep, dark sleep of death.