Perhaps of all, it troubled most the Herr Pfarrer. Was he not the father of the village? And as such did it not fall to him to see his children marry well and suitably? – marry in any case. It was the duty of every worthy citizen to keep alive throughout the ages the sacred hearth fire, to rea...
<p>Perhaps of all, it troubled most the Herr Pfarrer. Was he not the father of the village? And as such did it not fall to him to see his children marry well and suitably? – marry in any case. It was the duty of every worthy citizen to keep alive throughout the ages the sacred hearth fire, to rear up sturdy lads and honest lassies that would serve God, and the Fatherland. A true son of Saxon soil was the Herr Pastor Winckelmann – kindly, simple, sentimental.</p>
<p>“Why, at your age, Ulrich – at your age,” repeated the Herr Pastor, setting down his beer and wiping with the back of his hand his large uneven lips, “I was the father of a family – two boys and a girl. You never saw her, Ulrich; so sweet, so good. We called her Maria.” The Herr Pfarrer sighed and hid his broad red face behind the raised cover of his pewter pot.</p>
<p>“They must be good fun in a house, the little ones,” commented Ulrich, gazing upward with his dreamy eyes at the wreath of smoke ascending from his long-stemmed pipe. “The little ones, always my heart goes out to them.”</p>
<p>“Take to yourself a wife,” urged the Herr Pfarrer. “It is your duty. The good God has given to you ample means. It is not right that you should lead this lonely life. Bachelors make old maids; things of no use.”</p>
<p>“That is so,” Ulrich agreed. “I have often said the same unto myself. It would be pleasant to feel one was not working merely for oneself.”</p>
<p>“Elsa, now,” went on the Herr Pfarrer, “she is a good child, pious and economical. The price of such is above rubies.”</p>
<p>Ulrich’s face lightened with a pleasant smile. “Aye, Elsa is a good girl,” he answered. “Her little hands – have you ever noticed them, Herr Pastor – so soft and dimpled.”</p>
<p>The Pfarrer pushed aside his empty pot and leaned his elbows on the table.</p>
<p>“I think – I do not think – she would say no. Her mother, I have reason to believe – Let me sound them – discreetly.” The old pastor’s red face glowed redder, yet with pleasurable anticipation; he was a born matchmaker.</p>
<p>But Ulrich the wheelwright shuffled in his chair uneasily.</p>
<p>“A little longer,” he pleaded. “Let me think it over. A man should not marry without first being sure he love...