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A Sister's Love by W. Heimburg








A severe storm had been raging all day, and now, in the approaching twilight, seemed as if it would overleap all bounds in its wild confusion. Straight from the North Sea, over the broad Lueneburg heath, it came rushing along, and beat against the gray walls of the manor-house, shook the great elms in the garden, tossed about the bushes, and blew from the bare branches the last yellow leaf yet spared them by the November frost.

The great castle-like building, inhabited for centuries by the Von Hegewitz family, looked dismal and gloomy under the cloud-laden sky; in almost spectral gloom it lay there, with its sharply pointed gables, its round tower, and heavy buttresses supporting the walls.

If did not always look thus, this old manor-house; in summer it was very picturesque behind its green trees, the golden sunshine lying on its slate roof, the pointed gables sharply outlined against the blue sky, and the gray walls, framed by huge, old oaks, reflected in the brown water of the pond. Beside it lay the farm-buildings and the houses of the village, whose shingled roofs emerged in their turn from the foliage of the fruit-trees. Far out into the Mark country extended the view, over fields of waving corn, over green meadows and purple heath, bounded on the horizon by the dark line of a pine forest. A narrow strip of pine woods, besides, lay to the north, extending nearly to the garden, and on hot summer afternoons an almost intoxicating fragrance was wafted from it toward the quiet house.

Within it was still a real, old-fashioned German house; for there were dim corridors and deep niches, great vaulted rooms and large alcoves, little staircases with steep steps worn by many feet, and curious low vaulted doors. A flight of steps would lead quite unexpectedly from one room into the next, and here and there a door, instead of leading out of a room, opened, to one's surprise, into a huge closet. Then there were cemented floors, and great beams dividing the ceilings, and the smallest of window-panes. And yet where could more real comfort be found than in such an old house, especially when a November storm is howling without, and here indoors great fir logs are crackling in the gay-tiled stove?

And just now, down the stairs from the upper story, came an old lady, looking as if comfort itself came with the green silk knitting-bag on her arm, her large lace cap, and the brown silk shawl over her shoulders. She might have been in the fifties, this small, spare figure, and she limped. Fraeulein Rosamond von Hegewitz had limped all her life, and yet a more contented nature than hers did not exist. She now turned to the left and walked along the narrow corridor. This was her regular evening walk, as she went to her nephew and niece in the sitting-room--a dear old walk, which she had taken for years, since the time when the children were little, and her brother and sister-in-law were still alive; when twilight came she could no longer endure the solitude of her spinster's room.

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