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The GOOSE MAN

by JACOB WASSERMANN


Author of
“THE WORLD’S ILLUSION”

_Authorized translation by_
ALLEN W. PORTERFIELD


[Illustration: Das Gänsemännchen]


GROSSET & DUNLAP ~ _Publishers_
_by arrangement with_
HARCOURT, BRACE & COMPANY




NOTE

_The first chapter, “A Mother Seeks Her Son,” and sections I and II of
the second chapter, “Foes, Brothers, a Friend, and a Mask,” were
translated by Ludwig Lewisohn. The rest of the book has been translated
by Allen W. Porterfield. The title, “The Goose Man” (“Das Gänsemännchen”),
refers to the famous statue of that name in Nuremberg._


COPYRIGHT, 1922, BY
HARCOURT, BRACE AND COMPANY, INC.


PRINTED IN THE U. S. A.




CONTENTS


PAGE

A Mother Seeks Her Son 1

Foes, Brothers, A Friend and a Mask 23

The Nero of To-day 44

Inspector Jordan and His Children 65

Voices from Without and Voices from Within 97

In Memory of a Dream Figure 123

Daniel and Gertrude 153

The Glass Case Breaks 178

Tres Faciunt Collegium 204

Philippina Starts a Fire 239

Eleanore 277

The Room with the Withered Flowers 323

The Promethean Symphony 352

Dorothea 405

The Devil Leaves the House in Flames 435

But Aside, Who Is It? 455




THE GOOSE MAN




A MOTHER SEEKS HER SON


I

The landscape shows many shades of green; deep forests, mostly
coniferous, extend from the valley of the Rednitz to that of the Tauber.
Yet the villages lie in the midst of great circles of cultivated land,
for the tillage of man is immemorial here. Around the many weirs the
grass grows higher, so high often that you can see only the beaks of the
droves of geese, and were it not for their cackle you might take these
beaks to be strangely mobile flowers.

The little town of Eschenbach lies quite flat on the plain. In it a
fragment of the Middle Ages has survived, but no strangers know it,
since hours of travel divide it from any railway. Ansbach is the nearest
point in the great system of modern traffic; to get there you must use a
stage-coach. And that is as true to-day as it was in the days when
Gottfried Nothafft, the weaver, lived there.

The town walls are overgrown with moss and ivy; the old drawbridges
still cross the moats and take you through the round, ruined gates into
the streets. The houses have bay-windows and far-projecting overhangs,
and their interlacing beams look like the criss-cross of muscles on an
anatomical chart.

Concerning the poet who was once born here and who sang the song of
Parsifal, all living memory has faded. Perhaps the fountains whisper of
him by night; perhaps sometimes when the moon is up, his shadow hovers
about the church or the town-hall. The men and women know nothing of him
any more.

The little house of the weaver, withdrawn by a short distance from the
street, stood not far from the inn at the sign of the Ox. Three worn
steps took you to its door, and six windows looked out upon the quiet
square. It is strange to reflect that the spirit of modern
industrialism hewed its destructive path even to this forgotten nook of
the world.

In 1849, at the time of Gottfried Nothafft’s marriage—his wife, Marian,
was one of the two Höllriegel sisters of Nuremberg—he had still been
able to earn a tolerable living. So the couple desired a child, but
desired it for years in vain. Often, at the end of the day’s work, when
Gottfried sat on the bench in front of his house and smoked his pipe, he
would say: “How good it would be if we had a son.” Marian would fall
silent and lower her eyes.

As time passed, he stopped saying that, because he would not put the
woman to shame. But his expression betrayed his desire all the more
clearly.


II

A day came on which his trade seemed to come to a halt. The weavers in
all the land complained that they could not keep their old pace. It was
as though a creeping paralysis had come upon them. The market prices
suddenly dropped, and the character of the goods was changed.

This took place toward the end of the eighteen hundred and fifties, when
the new power looms were being introduced from America. No toil profited
anything. The cheap product which the machines could furnish destroyed
the sale of the hand-made weaves.

At first Gottfried Nothafft refused to be cast down. Thus the wheel of a
machine will run on for a space after the power has been cut off. But
gradually his courage failed. His hair turned grey in a single winter,
and at the age of forty-five he was a broken man.

And just as poverty appeared threatening at their door, and the soul of
Marian began to be stained by hatred, the longing of the couple was
fulfilled, and the wife became pregnant in the tenth year of their
marriage.

The hatred which she nourished was directed against the power loom. In
her dreams she saw the machine as a monster with thighs of steel, which
screamed out its malignity and devoured the hearts of men. She was
embittered by the injustice of a process which gave to impudence and
sloth the product that had once come thoughtfully and naturally from the
careful hands of men.

One journeyman after another had to be discharged, and one hand-loom
after another to be stored in the attic. On many days Marian would slip
up the stairs and crouch for hours beside the looms, which had once been
set in motion by a determinable and beneficent exertion and were like
corpses now.

Gottfried wandered across country, peddling the stock of goods he had on
hand. Once on his return he brought with him a piece of machine-made
cloth which a merchant of Nördlingen had given him. “Look, Marian, see
what sort of stuff it is,” he said, and handed it to her. But Marian
drew her hand away, and shuddered as though she had seen the booty of a
murderer.

After the birth of her boy she lost these morbid feelings; Gottfried on
the other hand seemed to dwindle from month to month. Though he
outlasted the years, there was no cheer left in him and he got no
comfort even from his growing boy. When he had sold all his own wares,
he took those of others, and dragged himself wearily in summer and
winter from village to village.

In spite of the scarcity that prevailed in the house, Marian was
convinced that Gottfried had put by money, and certain hints which he
threw out confirmed her in this hope. It was one of his peculiar views
that it was better to leave his wife in the dark regarding the true
state of their fortunes. As their circumstances grew worse, he became
wholly silent on this point.


III

On the square of the grain merchants in Nuremberg, Jason Philip
Schimmelweis, the husband of Marian’s sister, had his bookbinder’s shop.

Schimmelweis was a Westphalian. Hatred against the junkers and the
priests had driven him to this Protestant city of the South, where from
the beginning he had acquired the respect of people through his ready
wit and speech. Theresa Höllriegel had lodged in the house in which he
opened his shop, and gained her living as a seamstress. He had thought
that she had some money, but it had proved to be too little for his
ambitious notions. When he discovered that, he treated Theresa as though
she had cheated him.

He held his trade in contempt, and was ambitious of greater things. He
felt that he was called to be a bookseller; but he had no capital
wherewith to realise this plan. So he sat morosely in his subterranean
shop, pasted and folded and quarrelled with his lot, and in his hours of
leisure read the writings of socialists and freethinkers.

It was the Autumn in which the war against France was raging. On that
very morning had come the news of the battle of Sedan. All the church
bells were ringing.

To the surprise of Jason Philip, Gottfried Nothafft stepped into his
shop. His long, patriarchal beard and tall stature gave something
venerable to his appearance, even though his face looked tired and his
eyes were dull.

“God bless you, brother,” he said and held out his hand. “The fatherland
has better luck than its citizens.”

Schimmelweis, who did not like the visits of kinsmen, returned the
salutation with careful coolness. His features did not brighten until he
heard that his brother-in-law was stopping at the Red Cock Inn. He asked
what errand had brought Gottfried to the city.

“I must have a talk with you,” Nothafft replied.

They entered a room behind the shop and sat down. Jason Philip’s eyes
harboured even now a definitely negative answer to any proposal that
might cost him money or trouble. But he was to be agreeably
disappointed.

“I want to tell you, brother,” Gottfried Nothafft said, “that I have put
by three thousand taler during the nineteen years of my married life.
And since I have the feeling that I am not long for this world, I have
come to ask you to take charge of the money for Marian and the boy. It
has been troublesome enough not to touch it in these evil times that
have come. Marian knows nothing of it, and I don’t want her to know.



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