I wandered for a few more days, but I did not become happy anymore. Sunday came, I saw the peasants go to church, came in with them and heard the sermon, afterwards I saw the boys and girls in their high-spirited dances and in the evening in the street felt the solemn silence of the departing Sunday. But all that did not please me. The confused mind was seized by the passion for love and knew only grief, jealousy, hate and reverie. I did not want to think about Nina and Wolfgang, I never wanted to think about them anymore. I recited poems, gave a bold speech to a prince before the gathering of princes, wrote an ode to the emperor, -but even the sublime robe of majesty soon changed for me, became a sparkling, pale blue … with chocolate stains. ..
On the fourth evening of my walk, I moved more discouraged than ever along my street. I wanted to reach a larger city on this day, spend some time there, and then hurry to the nearby mountains. But some beautiful tree or a wistfully waving church tower would have been enough to distract me from my path. Who in the world asked if I dreamed an afternoon under shady bushes and read the “Pescara” or walked somewhere on a dusty path?
I stopped in front of a sage, who pointed me out of the open country. It was written: Strelow 3 km, to Wiesenau 4.5 km. I read the words thoughtlessly. Something lured me to turn off my street. But what was it? Strelow? I had never heard that name. Wiesenau? I never had that name … how? … A memory … Wiesenau … Wiesenau … everything had escaped again … I shook my head. Twenty times I pronounced the word Wiesenau, in the hope that the memory would once again enlighten me. But every effort was in vain: it was a dead word.
Already I was inflected into the new landscape. It had probably the weeks before rained, because everywhere were small black ponds, from which single trees, spruces and birches, emerged. Endless long purple evening clouds reflected in these ponds and gave them their color. As far as I could see, I saw nothing but colorful, magnificent meadows with large flowers and the black and purple ponds from which lonely trees grew out. Crows sometimes flew overhead screaming to reach the distant woods before dark.
When I came through Strelow, the bell rang in the evening. I looked through a window; an old farmer sat with his glasses on the tip of his nose and read in a newspaper. A woman carried a bench into her house. The pastor went through the village and was greeted by all; I greeted too. A troop of boys ran to God knows what evening ramble …
In some rooms a light was on. Should I rest here? It started to darken. Outside I could not sleep well, the floor seemed damp, it was a bit too cool. But the lights in the houses made me sad, and I felt that in the room my fear would seize me again.
I hurried out to the village. Alone with the last houses I halted in consternation: over the landscape the dusk had subsided and shrouded in deep, dark blue the ghostly trees, the willow bushes at the flashing ponds and the grain fields; from above some stars shone through blue light; nothing interrupted the silence except the bleak croaking of the frogs and the whisper of the grain when the wind rustled in it.
I walked through the dusk and felt lovingly lured away from the road, braided with a blue net. A dream of great intimacy touched me, I felt as if he was old and dreamed of anyone at any time. Around my eyes there was a pile, my feet often stumbled …
‘Could I pass through this blue light for many hours! If only the feet did not tire …! ‘
But oh, already on the roadside nocturnal chestnuts waved to slumber and dream! … A park began, latticed, … an avenue … And here, – were not there bronze lions spitting silver water in pools of water divided into three? Was not it drowsy and sweet?
How, did not there stand a house before me, a castle, with an illuminated altane and bluish shimmering steps?
Did not I sneak in curiously, … softly … very softly … and did not I see all the people I loved there? … the mother … with the son … and my beautiful friend Nina?
With a throbbing heart and hot cheeks I stood in the dark and looked at the porch. Nina worked on a tight embroidery and talked to Wolfgang, who had his hands around a knee, smoked a cigarette and drank from a glass at times. Mrs. Seyderhelm wrote a letter. Sometimes she raised her head and put a few words into the conversation of the two. I could not understand what was being said.
I saw Nina’s profile and her hands. How delicate she was! Yes, was not she adorable? Sweet Nina! … I made a move.
Nina cried aloud:
“Wolfgang, I beg you – someone is standing outside.”
I held my breath.
‘If I am discovered here, I’ll stab myself.’
Wolfgang leaned out and shouted:
“There is nobody here … you are quite scary!”
O – saved!
Mrs. Seyderhelm had finished her letter, they chatted excitedly. I saw how the mother once threatened her son with a smile. After a while Nina continued her embroidery hoop, packed her sewing into a pompadour and stood up. She first shook hands with Frau Seyderhelm, then exchanged a few words with Wolfgang – they seemed to be arranging something – rested her hands on his shoulders, gave him a light cheek and stepped into the rooms. Wolfgang kissed his mother, who stroked his hair; I felt as if they were speaking of Nina, for they looked for the door; then both went out. A maid appeared on the porch a few moments later, tidied up the clothes, raised the awning, and set aside the garden furniture. She took the lamp and disappeared.
Everything was dark around me. Up in the castle I saw several illuminated windows. At times I heard footsteps, then everything became quiet.
Slowly I broke free of my numbness and went through the park. I did not feel much: a little astonishment, a little pain, a little tiredness and a little luck … I wanted to keep walking. What should I do here? No one would believe that I happened to come here … but then I heard again the sweet, soporific melody of the babbling fountains. Without thinking, I lay down, at the feet of a bronze lion. I folded my hands behind my head and looked up into the sky, where the Milky Way stretched its triumphal arch over the sky. I felt that sleep would overwhelm me, and I wanted to watch and think. I became sad and remembered the words of the Lord: “Can you not watch with me for an hour?” Once more I looked at the illuminated windows in the castle, then fell into a dream. Asleep, I felt the cold of the night and pulled my cape tight around me. And in my dream came again and again the splashing of the water, … the splashing of the water.