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INTRODUCTION.

10

THERE are some places which we feel an irresistible longing to visit over again. They are places oftentimes not marked by any striking beauty, nor signalised by any great event in the history of our lives, and yet, as years pass by, and the great waves of time roll on, effacing the foot-prints in the sand beneath them, we cling to the remembrance of the past, and strive with almost unconscious effort to recover the lost impressions, brightened as they are with the prismatic colours of the wave that obliterates them.

Ten years had passed by since Harry

Newton had climbed the long and continuous hill leading from Auerbach to the Muhlthal stretching behind it. Auerbach is a small village in the Bergstrasse, the district skirting the foot of the Odenwald range. It is noted for little but its wine, and even this has no reputation beyond the country of its growth. The vineyards, however, form the main wealth of the population; the hills, clad with vines, belong to the rich tradesmen of the village or to the millers of the valley, and small strips of vineyards are cultivated even by the poorest, whom they tend considerably to support. When the vintage comes, all other work is laid aside : the carpenter has no one in his workshop ; the village is deserted; even the postman exchanges his letter-bag for the butt, and finds a substitute for his rounds; and the voice of joy and gladness resounds from hill to hill, as the ripe clusters are gathered, and the carts, wreathed with vine-leaves, carry their precious burdens to the winepress of their respective owners.

The village itself is little known or frequented, except by visitors from Darmstadt, who come on Sundays in their gayest attire and drink coffee in the gardens of the * Crown,' while the men enjoy their schoppen of Auerbach Auslese, and smoke their pipes. .

In the winter the Crown Gardens are closed, and the little inn itself is silent and deserted. But mine host is accustomed to this, and it in nowise disconcerts him. The waiters are dismissed, the rooms are closed, and Herr Diepenbroch and his wife, and sundry young Diepenbrochs, spend the winter months in quiet retirement.

With the first day of spring the work recommences. Sophie Meyer, the pretty chambermaid, is reinstalled. Karl Weiss, the waiter, is back again at his post, the seats and tables are arranged in the gardens under the trees, the young Diepenbrochs hand foaming glasses from table to table, and the father Diepenbroch walks to and fro with a benignant expression of counNewton had climbed the long and continuous hill leading from Auerbach to the Muhlthal stretching behind it. Auerbach is a small village in the Bergstrasse, the district skirting the foot of the Odenwald range. It is noted for little but its wine, and even this has no reputation beyond the country of its growth. The vineyards, however, form the main wealth of the population ; the hills, clad with vines, belong to the rich tradesmen of the village or to the millers of the valley, and small strips of vineyards are cultivated even by the poorest, whom they tend considerably to support. When the vintage comes, all other work is laid aside : the carpenter has no one in his workshop ; the village is deserted; even the postman exchanges his letter-bag for the butt, and finds a substitute for his rounds; and the voice of joy and gladness resounds from hill to hill, as the ripe clusters are gathered, and the carts, wreathed with vine-leaves, carry their precious burdens to the winepress of their respective owners.

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