"This is the day for the church fair", said the old farmer's wife who was gout-ridden and had to keep to her
bed for the last five years. She sat up with great effort and with trembling hands she had tied a long cloth
around her head which she kept taking off and re-wrapping, until right in the middle of her forehead there was
a large knot that looked like the four wings of a windmill— "today is the day of the church fair, Sepp, and you
will be going to the dance this evening alone like you did last year and the year before and all the years before
that. I thought you solemnly promised me that you would be getting married this year. I guess nothing will
come of that as long as I am alive and even after I die. Oh, if your father would ever have known! Do you just
want to be an old bachelor? Don't you know the song the girls sing?
'Clip, clap bachelor,
go to the forest, search for wood,
dry wood in the green woods,
for in winter cold sets in—
It is still mild now.
Let it burn, give off soot,
— keep you from freezing—
Ask the beggar children!'"
Muttering, her son answered that he liked all the girls in the village, but he had not idea which one he should
ask to be his wife. "Just walk around in the village," said his mother, "and observe exactly what the girls you
think eligible are doing, and then come back and tell me."
And Sepp went on his way.—
"Now," shouted asked his mother when he got back, "How did it go? Where were you?"
"First I visited Ursel. She had just come home from church and was wearing a nice dress and new earrings."
His mother sighed and said: "If she goes to church often she will soon learn to forget the Good Lord. There
comes a time when the miller no longer hears the clapping. She's not for you, son. Where did you go after
"To Kate, Mother."
"What was she doing?"
"She was standing the kitchen, arranging all the plates and pots."
"How did the pots look?"
"And her fingers?"
"Slick, slack," his mother said:
Nibbly and tasty!
Bakes cakes and sweet mush,
Will forget children and animals.
Forget her, Sepp!"
"After that I visited Barbara. She was sitting in the garden making three wreaths. One of violets, one of roses,
one of carnations. Asked me which one she should wear to the fair. "
His mother was silent for a moment and then said:
"A silver lord
a golden fool,
make for a copper wedding
and pains of steel!
Go on, my boy!"
"Fourthly, I visited Gret. She was standing in the street in front of the house giving poor people bread and
His mother shook her head and said: "Today she does what the people should see, the next time she does
something no one should see. If she stands in front of the door by day, in the evening she will most likely be
behind it. If the lord comes to the field at noon when his workers are eating, only the lazy ones get on their
feet and make ready to reap; the hard workers stay seated. Better you stay single, Sepp, rather than take
that girl!— Did you visit anyone else?
"Last of all I visited Ann."
"What was she doing?"
"She must have been doing something?" said the his mother. "Nothing is very little, Sepp!"
"I swear", answered her son, "she wasn't doing a thing; you can be sure of that!"
"Then settle for Ann, my boy! Such girls make the best wives, the ones who do nothing that the menfolk can
And Sepp took Ann and he was overjoyed and often told his mother later: "Mother, how right you were with
Ursul and Kate,
Barbara and Gret',
They weigh all told
not half of my Ann!
Now I could tell you a lot about her—but I won't say a word."—
|Sepp Goes Courting
Richard von Volkmann-Leander
Illustration: Hans von Volkmann (Son)
|Reveries at French Firesides