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business achieved by the good woman during the day, and not feel sure that the habit of her life positively helped her. And Frau Mässinger's day was not of the limit prescribed of old. Beginning at five, and sometimes even at four in the morning, she worked on and on unceasingly, till the lamp was lighted in the little dwelling-room at night, and then gathering round the solid oak table, there were still apples to pare and plums to divide for the morrow's kuchens or for the winter's store.
The fact of Rosa's absence had not burst upon her all at once; she had gone off to the field, leaving word with the men that Rosa was to put the potatoes on, and then to follow her; and when twelve o'clock came and no Rosa had appeared, she went home grumbling at the girl's delay, without assigning, even in her own mind, any reason for it.
But when her husband came home, and Johann, and Marie, and the men, and there was no dinner ready, and no Rosa had been
seen, Frau Mässinger's grumble assumed a graver tone; it became less continuous, as her wont was when she was really annoyed, and her husband being at hand, it subsided into reproaches and invectives against him.
Old Mässinger had grown accustomed to the sort of thing; he knew that there must be some scapegoat for the mistress's wrath, and after all it was better that it should fall upon him than upon the children ; and he had had his misgivings sometimes as he had seen poor Rosa crying over her work, or coming in from the fields, slatternly and wearily, as if tired of endurance. He took out his pipe as his habit was when there was little repose in anything else, and his face with its broad flattened nose and sleepy eyes assumed an expression of indifference and amiability, all the more annoying to a woman of Frau Mässinger’s disposition. Still, when the first outburst of wrath was over, Frau Mässinger bore her inconvenience patiently; she did her own work and Rosa's too, and before nightfall she had decided that there was no
good in the girl, and that her absence was better than her presence. It never occurred to her to think what had become of Rosait was no use for her, a working woman to trouble her head with fancies—if Rosa liked to run away, she was quite old enough to take care of herself, and if they wanted a girl there were as good fish in the sea as any out of it.
Once for a moment, it crossed her mind that it was not quite impossible that the girl had gone after Heinrich, but she dismissed the thought almost as soon as it arose. Perhaps it had something to do with her determination to send to Frau Dreuser and ask her to come and have a cup of coffee on Sunday afternoon; she muttered something about its being no good going on in that way, and she was resolving in her own mind that the all-important business of Heinrich's betrothal with Marie should be definitively settled.
Old Mässinger watched his wife go off to the fields and felt a sense of relief. She was
a good soul, she kept things going, and who would take care of the cows, and the land, and the vines as she did ? Nevertheless he stood greatly in awe of her, and wished sometimes that her tongue was a little less bitter and her tone a little less querulous. He had one abiding principle, and that was to celebrate every event, small and large, by an extra schoppen of Auerbach wine, and this principle was a source of constant antagonism between him and his worthy helpmeet. So he waited to-day till she had gone off to work, and then taking a huge key from the wall, he opened the door leading into the large vaulted cellar by the side of the house, and placing himself in front of one of the immense butts therein, he filled a good sized brown jug with his favourite beverage. He took one ample draught then and there, and then refilling his jug, he retired from the scene of temptation, closing the door after him, and taking his seat on the wooden bench in front of the dwelling room. Poor harmless old man !
Did a good wish for Rosa's welfare mingle perhaps with his love for those butts of wine?
"She's an odd girl that;' said Frau Mässinger, as she sat peeling the apples in the evening, and giving her husband a sly nudge from time to time, in answer to one of his obnoxious snores; "she hasn't as much as taken her clothes with her. There's her best gown, which belonged to our Lizette, hanging on the peg there just as usual, and though she hasn't much to lose, it's strange her leaving it all. I'm afraid she's feathering her nest in other ways.
• Can't you let the girl alone, wife, now she's gone ?' said Mässinger, giving his expiring pipe a fresh puff of so energetic a character that he sent the accumulated ashes over the room.
There, look what you've done,' said his help-meet, it's all among the apples. You were always for the girl you know, and you didn't see as I did how she was after our Heinrich, and almost made him break off with Dreuser's Marie, and lose one of the