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THE INN AT WEILERSTADT.
My expectations were only partially realized. The campaign began early the following spring, and I was obliged again to travel to Würtemburg with my master and mistress ; but this time I did not go to Liebenzell, but to the little imperial town of Weil, commonly called Weilerstadt, where the Colonel left his lady, and me to wait upon her. I was certainly not so well off there as at Liebenzell: I had no friend and confident, to whom I could tell my grief, no Bible from which I could derive consolation. How gladly would I have paid a visit, though it were but a short one, to the vicar of Möttlingen, which is only the distance of a league from Weilerstadt; but this was not permitted me. I had to spend many
gloomy and painful days, in consequence of the oppression I endured; and should have perished in my misery, if God had not from time to time revived me, by the recollection of a passage from the Bible, when pouring out my distress before him.
One day, my lady had treated me very severely and cruelly, and had afterwards left the house and gone into company. I placed myself at a window and wept bitterly. My soul cried unto God, and I exclaimed, “ O thou who seest and hearest all things, heavenly Father, canst thou then quietly see and hear all that I have to endure, and yet know that I am innocent? Wilt thou not at length help me, since I have so often entreated thee to do so, and deliver me from this bondage, which causes me to live in incessant fear and anxiety? O Father, have pity upon me!"
Whilst I was thus inwardly mourning and lamenting, the landlord of the Black Eagle, where we were residing, came to me, and saw my tears. Aware of the ill treatment I suffered from the Colonel's lady, and disgusted with it himself, he
probably imagined the reason of my grief; and seeing that he pitied me, I felt confidence in him, described my mournful circumstances to him, and gave him to understand, that I wished for an opportunity to escape from my painful situation, and run away. He inquired whether I had any acquaintance in the country, with whom I could take refuge. I could mention no one to him but the magistrate in Liebenzell, and his sister, Dr. Commerell's lady in Stuttgard. The latter name pleased him, and his resolution was soon taken.
Without saying a word of it to any one in the house, he locked me up in a room, which was exactly over the apartment of the Colonel's lady; so that I could hear all she said, and even look down through an aperture. After reminding me to listen minutely to what she said, for she spoke the Bohemian language, which I pretty well understood, he took the key, and awaited below, as I did above, the return of my mistress. I cannot well describe what were then my feelings; there was a singular mixture of fear, anxiety, hope, and joy in my mind, of which first one and then another predominated. But this anxious and decisive period made such an impression on my memory and nerves, that long after, as often as I found myself in a closed room, the remembrance of that painful state of suspense caused me an involuntary shudder through all my limbs. But, after a time, this also ceased, when I had found real repose in God.
At length she came home at a late hour, in a state of intoxication, as we had expected; and although she inquired for me, yet she soon retired to bed. I could not sleep much that night; and if I fell asleep in the midst of my troubled thoughts, painful dreams again awoke me. Apprehension lest the landlord's plan, of which I hitherto knew not the particulars, should prove unsuccessful, deprived me of all repose. I thought how easy it would be to discover me in my hiding-place, or that I might be betrayed ; and what I had then to expect. My mistress, a violent and wrathful woman, would never forgive me: I should certainly have to suffer severely, and my situation would be rendered doubly painful to me.
In the morning, when she awoke from her sound sleep, she did not pass over the matter so quietly. She called, and inquired for me a long time in vain-no Setma came. At length she summoned the landlord before her, who told her I had not been seen in the house since noon the day before. She then began to suspect how the matter stood. She cursed and raged in such a manner as to horrify me: she sent to make enquiries everywhere; and because it occurred to her, that I was known only at Liebenzell, she immediately dispatched a man on horseback thither. The prudent landlord had foreseen this, and had therefore advised me not to go to Liebenzell. When the messenger returned without bringing any news of me, and nothing could be heard of me anywhere, she began to rage anew, particularly at the landlord ; and I heard her say to the other servant, in Bohemian, that I must be concealed somewhere in the house, and that at day-break the next morning she would have it searched from top to bottom.