PEARL

MICHAEL KOHLHAAS Part Two

When the roots are deep, there is no reason to fear the wind.
African Proverb
Tis not too late to seek a newer world.
Alfred Lord Tennyson

He was already galloping at breakneck speed on his way to Dresden when, at the thought of the groom, and the complaint that was being brought against him at the castle, he slowed down to a walk, and before he had gone another thousand paces, turned his horse around again and took the turning to Kohlhaasenbrück in order to hear beforehand, as seemed wise and just to him, what the groom had to say. For in spite of the insults he had suffered, a real feeling, already familiar with the fragile organisation of the world, made him willing to get over the loss of the horses and to regard it as a just consequence just in case the groom could be found culpable for some misconduct as the castellan had alleged. On the other hand, an equally admirable feeling, which took root deeper and deeper the further he rode, and heard at every stop of the injustices committed daily against travellers at the Tronka Castle, told him that if the whole incident, as it has all appearance of being, proved to be a preconcerted job, it was his duty to the world to use all his energies and resources to obtain satisfaction for the affronts he had suffered, and a guarantee for his fellow-citizens against similar insults in the future.

On his arrival at Kohlhaasenbrück, as soon as he had embraced his faithful wife Lisbeth, and kissed his children, who romped gleefully about his knees, he immediately inquired after Herse, the groom, and whether anything had been heard of him.

‘Yes, dearest Michael, that Herse!’ Lisbeth said, ‘Just think! This wretched man came in here about a fortnight ago, beaten and battered most pitifully; nay, he was so battered that he could not even breathe freely. We put him to bed, where he kept on spewing a lot of blood, and heard, in response to our repeated questions, a story that none of us could understand. He told us how you had left him behind at Tronka Castle with some horses which they would not allow to pass through there, how they had forced him, by the most shameful mistreatment, to leave the castle, and how it had been impossible for him to take the horses with him.

‘Really?’ said Kohlhaas, taking off his cloak. ‘Has he recovered now?’

‘Fifty-fifty, except that he is still spitting blood,’ she replied. ‘I wanted to send another groom immediately to Tronka Castle so as to have the horses taken care of until you got back to the place. As Herse has always shown himself truthful and, indeed, more faithful to us than anyone else, it did not occur to me to doubt his statement, especially as it is supported by so many lesions, and to think that perhaps he had lost the horses in some other way. He implored me, however, not to ask of anyone to show up in this robber’s nest, and to give the animals up if I did not want to sacrifice a person’s life for them.’

‘Is he still in bed?’ Kohlhaas asked, taking off the stock from his neck.

Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man’s character, give him power.
Abraham Lincoln

‘He has been walking around in the yard for a few days now,’ she replied. ‘In short, you will see for yourself,’ she continued, ‘that it is all true and that this incident is one of the outrages of late bedevilling strangers at the Tronka Castle.’

‘That is what I have to investigate,’ remarked Kohlhaas. ‘Call him here to me, Lisbeth, if he is up, will you?’ With these words he sat down in the armchair; and the housewife, delighted at his calmness, went and fetched the groom.

A forest bird never wants a cage.
Henrik Ibsen

What did you do at Tronka Castle?’ Kohlhaas

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