Effi Briest - Theodor Fontane - ebook

Effi Briest ebook

Theodor Fontane



Effi Briest, the classic German realist novel, follows a young woman through her life and marriage. She is an innocent when she is married to the social climbing Instetten, and longs for wordly things. When she is left alone by her husband, who is pursuing his political career, she succumbs to the flattery of another man. Her adultery has wide and tragic consequences on the rest of her life.

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Effi Briest

Theodor Fontane 

©Re-Image Publishing

  Copyright: This work is available for countries where copyright is Life+70 and in the USA

Table of Contents
Chapter I

Chapter I

In front of the old manor house occupied by the von Briest family since the days of Elector George William, the bright sunshine was pouring down upon the village road, at the quiet hour of noon. The wing of the mansion looking toward the garden and park cast its broad shadow over a white and green checkered tile walk and extended out over a large round bed, with a sundial in its centre and a border of Indian shot and rhubarb. Some twenty paces further, and parallel to the wing of the house, there ran a churchyard wall, entirely covered with a small-leaved ivy, except at the place where an opening had been made for a little white iron gate. Behind this arose the shingled tower of Hohen-Cremmen, whose weather vane glistened in the sunshine, having only recently been regilded. The front of the house, the wing, and the churchyard wall formed, so to speak, a horseshoe, inclosing a small ornamental garden, at the open side of which was seen a pond, with a small footbridge and a tied-up boat. Close by was a swing, with its crossboard hanging from two ropes at either end, and its frame posts beginning to lean to one side. Between the pond and the circular bed stood a clump of giant plane trees, half hiding the swing.

The terrace in front of the manor house, with its tubbed aloe plants and a few garden chairs, was an agreeable place to sit on cloudy days, besides affording a variety of things to attract the attention. But, on days when the hot sun beat down there, the side of the house toward the garden was given a decided preference, especially by the mother and the daughter of the house. On this account they were today sitting on the tile walk in the shade, with their backs to the open windows, which were all overgrown with wild grape-vines, and by the side of a little projecting stairway, whose four stone steps led from the garden to the ground floor of the wing of the mansion. Both mother and daughter were busy at work, making an altar cloth out of separate squares, which they were piecing together. Skeins of woolen yarn of various colors, and an equal variety of silk thread lay in confusion upon a large round table, upon which were still standing the luncheon dessert plates and a majolica dish filled with fine large gooseberries.

Swiftly and deftly the wool-threaded needles were drawn back and forth, and the mother seemed never to let her eyes wander from the work. But the daughter, who bore the Christian name of Effi, laid aside her needle from time to time and arose from her seat to practice a course of healthy home gymnastics, with every variety of bending and stretching. It was apparent that she took particular delight in these exercises, to which she gave a somewhat comical turn, and whenever she stood there thus engaged, slowly raising her arms and bringing the palms of her hands together high above her head, her mother would occasionally glance up from her needlework, though always but for a moment and that, too, furtively, because she did not wish to show how fascinating she considered her own child, although in this feeling of motherly pride she was fully justified. Effi wore a blue and white striped linen dress, a sort of smock-frock, which would have shown no waist line at all but for the bronze-colored leather belt which she drew up tight. Her neck was bare and a broad sailor collar fell over her shoulders and back. In everything she did there was a union of haughtiness and gracefulness, and her laughing brown eyes betrayed great natural cleverness and abundant enjoyment of life and goodness of heart. She was called the "little girl," which she had to suffer only because her beautiful slender mother was a full hand's breadth taller than she.

Effi had just stood up again to perform her calisthenic exercises when her mother, who at the moment chanced to be looking up from her embroidery, called to her: "Effi, you really ought to have been an equestrienne, I'm thinking. Always on the trapeze, always a daughter of the air. I almost believe you would like something of the sort."

"Perhaps, mama. But if it were so, whose fault would it be? From whom do I get it? Why, from no one but you. Or do you think, from papa? There, it makes you laugh yourself. And then, why do you always dress me in this rig, this boy's smock? Sometimes I fancy I shall be put back in short clothes yet. Once I have them on again I shall courtesy like a girl in her early teens, and when our friends in Rathenow come over I shall sit in Colonel Goetze's lap and ride a trot horse. Why not? He is three-fourths an uncle and only one-fourth a suitor. You are to blame. Why don't I have any party clothes? Why don't you make a lady of me?"

"Should you like me to?"

"No." With that she ran to her mother, embraced her effusively and kissed her.

"Not so savagely, Effi, not so passionately. I am always disturbed when I see you thus."

At this point three young girls stepped into the garden through die little iron gate in the churchyard wall and started along die gravel walk toward die round hed and die sundial. They all waved dieir unihrellas at Effi and dien ran up to Mrs. von Briest and kissed her hand. She hurriedly asked a few questions and dien invited the girls to stay and visit widi diem, or at least widi Effi, for half an hour. "Besides, I have somediing else diat I must do and young folks like hest to he left to themselves. Fare ye well." Widi these words she went up the stone steps into the house.

Two of the young girls, plump little creatures, whose freckles and good nature well matched dieir curly red hair, were daughters of Precentor Jalinke, who swore hy die Hanseatic League, Scandinavia, and Fritz Reuter, and following die example of his favorite writer and fellow countryman, had named his twin daughters Berdia and Herdia, in imitation of Mining and Lining. The third young lady was Hulda Niemeyer, Pastor Niemeyer's only child. She was more ladylike dian die odier two, hut, on die odier hand, tedious and conceited, a lymphatic blonde, with slighdy proUuding dim eyes, which, nevertiieless, seemed always to be seeking somediing, for which reason die Hussar Klitzing once said: "Doesn't she look as diough she were every moment expecting die angel Gabriel?" Effi felt diat the ratiier captious Klitzing was only too right in his criticism, yet she avoided making any distinction between the three girl friends. Nodiing could have been tardier from her mind at diis moment. Resting her arms on die table, she exclaimed: "Oh, this tedious embroidery! Thank heaven, you are here."

"But we have driven your mama away," said Hulda.

"Oh no. She would have gone anyhow. She is expecting a visitor, an old friend of her girlhood days. I must tell you a story about him later, a love story with a real hero and a real heroine, and ending widi resignation. It will make you open your eyes wide widi amazement. Moreover, I saw mama's old friend over in Schwantikow. He is a district councillor, a fine figure, and very manly."

"Manly? That's a most important consideration," said Herdia.

"Certainly, it's die chief consideration. 'Women womanly, men manly,' is, you know, one of papa's favorite maxims. And now help me put die table in order, or diere will be anodier scolding."

It took but a moment to put die tilings in die basket and, when die girls sat down again, Hulda said: "Now, Effi, now we are ready, now for die love story with resignation.

"A story with resignation is never bad. But I can't begin till Hertlia has taken some gooseberries; she keeps her eyes glued on diem. Please take as many as you like, we can pick some more afterward. But be sure to dirow die hulls far enough away, or, better still, lay diem here on diis newspaper supplement, dien we can wrap diem up in a bundle and dispose of everything at once. Mama can't bear to see hulls lying about everywhere. She always says that some one might slip on diem and break a leg."

"I don't believe it," said Herdia, applying herself closely to die berries.

"Nor I eidier," replied Efti, confirming die opinion. "Just diink of it, I fall at least two or diree times every day and have never broken any bones yet. The right kind of leg doesn't break so easily; certainly mine doesn't, neidier does yours, Herdia. What do you diink, Hulda?"

"One ought not to tempt fate. Pride will have a fall."

"Always the governess. You are just a born old maid."

"And yet I still have hopes of finding a husband, perhaps even before you do."

"For aught I care. Do you diink I shall wait for diat? The idea! Furdiermore one has already been picked out for me and perhaps I shall soon have him. Oh, I am not worrying about diat. Not long ago littie Ventivegni from over the way said to me : 'Miss Effi, what will you bet we shall not have a charivari and a wedding here this year yet?

"And what did you say to diat?"

"Quite possible, I said, quite possible; Hulda is die oldest; she may be married any day. But he refused to listen to diat and said : 'No, I mean at die home of an-odier young lady who is just as decided a brunette as Miss Hulda is a blonde.' As he said this he looked at me quite seriously — But I am wandering and am forgetting die story."

"Yes, you keep dropping it all die while; may be you don't want to tell it, after all?"

"Oh, I want to, but I have interrupted die story a good many times, chiefly because it is a little bit strange, indeed, almost romantic."

"Why, you said he was a district councillor."

"Certainly, a district councillor, and his name is Geert von Innstetten, Baron von Innstetten."

All diree laughed.

"Why do you laugh?" said Efti, nettied. "What does diis mean?"

"Ah, Effi, we don't mean to offend you, nor die Baron

either. Innstetten did you say? And Geert? Why, diere is nobody by diat name about here. And dien you know die names of noblemen are often a bit comical."

"Yes, my dear, diey are. But people do not belong to die nobility for nothing. They can endure such diings, and die farther back dieir nobility goes, I mean in point of time, die better diey are able to endure diem. But you don't know anything about diis and you must not take offense at me for saying so. We shall continue to be good friends just die same. So it is Geert von Innstetten and he is a Baron. He is just as old as mama, to die day."

"And how old, pray, is your mama?"


"A fine age."

"Indeed it is, especially when one still looks as well as mama. I consider her truly a beautiful woman, don't you, too? And how accomplished she is in everydiing, always so sure and at die same time so ladylike, and never unconventional, like papa. If I were a young lieutenant I should fall in love widi mama."

"Oh, Effi, how can you ever say such a tiling?" said Hulda. "Why, diat is contrary to die fourth commandment."

"Nonsense. How can it be? I diink it would please mama if she knew I said such a tiling."

"That may be," interrupted Heitha. "But are you ever going to tell the story?"

"Yes, compose yourself and I'll begin. We were speaking of Baron von Innstetten. Before he had reached die age of twenty he was living over in Rathenow, but spent much of his time on the seignioral estates of diis region, and liked best of all to visit in Schwantikow, at my grand-fadier Belling's. Of course, it was not on account of my grandfadier diat he was so often diere, and when mama tells about it one can easily see on whose account it really was, I diink it was mutual, too."

"And what came of it?"

"The tiling that was bound to come and always does come. He was still much too young and when my papa appealed on die scene, who had already attained die title of baronial councillor and die proprietorship of Hohen-Cremmen, diere was no need of furdier time for consideration. She accepted him and became Mrs. von Briest." "What did Innstetten do?" said Bertha, "what became of him? He didn't commit suicide, otherwise you could not be expecting him today."

"No, he didn't commit suicide, but it was something of

that nature."

"Did he make an unsuccessful attempt? "

"No, not that But he didn't care to remain here in the neighborhood any longer, and he must have lost all taste for die soldier's career, generally speaking. Besides, it was an era of peace, you know. In short, he asked for his discharge and took up die study of die law, as papa would say, with a 'true beer zeal.' But when the war of seventy broke out he returned to die army, widi die Perle-berg troops, instead of his old regiment, and he now wears die cross. Naturally, for he is a smart fellow. Right after the war he returned to his documents, and it is said diat Bismarck diinks very highly of him, and so does the Emperor. Thus it came about diat he was made district councillor in die district of Kessin."

"What is Kessin? I don't know of any Kessin here."

"No, it is not situated here in our region; it is a long distance away from here, in Pomerania, in Furdier Pome-rania, in fact, which signifies nodiing, however, for it is a watering place (every place about diere is a summer resort), and die vacation journey that Baron Innstetten is now enjoying is in reality a tour of his cousins, or something of die sort. He wishes to visit his old friends and relatives here."

"Has he relatives here?"

"Yes and no, depending on how you look at it. There are no Innstettens here, there are none anywhere any more, I believe. But he has here distant cousins on his mother's side, and he doubtless wished above all to see Schwantikow once more and die Belling house, to which he was attached by so many memories. So he was over there die day before yesterday and today he plans to be here in Hohen-Cremmen."

"And what does your father say about it?"

"Nothing at all. It is not his way. Besides, he knows mama, you see. He only teases her."

At this moment die clock struck twelve and before it had ceased striking, Wilke, die old factotum of die Briest family, came on die scene to give a message to Miss Effi: '"Your Ladyship's mother sends die request that your Ladyship make her toilet in good season; die Baron will presumably drive up immediately after one o'clock." While Wilke was still delivering this message he began to put the ladies' work-table in order and reached first for the sheet of newspaper, on which the gooseberry hulls lay.

"No, Wilke, don't bother with that It is our affair to dispose of die hulls — Hertha, you must now wrap up the

bundle and put a stone in it, so diat it will sink better. Then we will march out in a long funeral procession and bury the bundle at sea."

Wilke smiled widi satisfaction. "Oh, Miss Effi, she's a trump," was about what he was thinking. But Effi laid die paper bundle in die centre of die quickly gathered up tablecloth and said: "Now let all four of us take hold, each by a corner, and sing something sorrowful."

"Yes, Effi, diat is easy enough to say, but what, pray, shall we sing?"

"Just anything. It is quite immaterial, only it most have a rime in 'oo;' 'oo' is always a sad vowel. Let us sing, say:

"Flood, flood, Make it all good."

While Effi was solemnly intoning diis litany, all four marched out upon die landing pier, stepped into the boat tied diere, and from die further end of it slowly lowered into die pond die pebble-weighted paper bundle.

"Herdia, now your guilt is sunk out of sight," said Effi, "in which connection it occurs to me, by the way, that in former times poor unfortunate women are said to have been thrown overboard dius from a boat, of course for unfaithfulness,"

"But not here, certainly."

"No, not here," laughed Effi, "such tilings do not take place here. But diey do in Constantinople and it just occurs to me diat you must know about it, for you were present in die geography class when die teacher told about it."

"Yes," said Hulda, "he was always telling us about such tilings. But one naturally forgets diem in die course of time."

"Not I, I remember tilings like that."

Chapter II

THE conversation ran on thus for some time, the girls recalling with mingled disgust and delight die school lessons diey had had in common, and a great many of die teacher's uncalled-for remarks. Suddenly Hulda said: "But you must make haste, Effi; why, you look — why, what shall I say — why, you look as though you had just come from a cherry picking, all rumpled and crumpled. Linen always gets so hadly creased, and diat large white turned down collar — oh, yes, I have it now; you look like a cabin boy."

THE conversation ran on thus for some time, the girls recalling with mingled disgust and delight die school lessons diey had had in common, and a great many of die teacher's uncalled-for remarks. Suddenly Hulda said: "But you must make haste, Effi; why, you look — why, what shall I say — why, you look as though you had just come from a cherry picking, all rumpled and crumpled. Linen always gets so hadly creased, and diat large white turned down collar — oh, yes, I have it now; you look like a cabin boy."

"Midshipman, if you please. I must derive some advantage from my nobility. But midshipman or cabin boy, only recendy papa again promised me a mast, here close by the swing, widi yards and a rope ladder. Most assuredly I should like one and I should not allow anybody to interfere widi my fastening die pennant at die top. And you, Hulda, would climb up dien on die odier side and high in die air we would shout: 'Hurrah!' and give each other a kiss. By Jingo, diat would be a sweet one."

'"By Jingo.' Now just listen to diat. You really talk like a midshipman. However, I shall take care not to climb up after you, I am not such a dare-devil. Jalinke is quite right when he says, as he always does, that you have too much Billing in you, from your modier. I am only a preacher's daughter."

"All, go along. Still waters run deep — But come, let us swing, two on a side; I don't believe it will break. Or if you don't care to, for you are drawing long faces again, then we will play hide-and-seek. I still have a quarter of an hour. I don't want to go in, yet, and anyhow it is merely to say: 'How do you do?' to a district councillor, and a district councillor from Further Pomerania to boot. He is elderly, too. Why he might almost be my fatiier; and if he actually lives in a seaport, for, you know, diat is what Kessin is said to be, I really ought to make die best impression upon him in this sailor costume, and he ought almost to consider it a delicate attention. When princes receive anybody, I know from what papa has told me, tiiey always put on die uniform of die country of their guest. So don't worry — Quick, quick, I am going to hide and here by die bench is die base."

Hulda was about to fix a few boundaries, but Effi had already run up die first gravel walk, turning to die left, dien to die right, and suddenly vanishing from sight. "Effi, diat does not count; where are you? We are not playing run away; we are playing hide-and-seek." Widi

these and similar reproaches die girls ran to search for her, far beyond die circular bed and die two plane trees standing by die side of die padi. She first let diem get much fardier dian she was from die base and dien, rushing suddenly from her hiding place, reached die bench, without any special exertion, before diere was time to say: "one, two, three."

"Where were you?"

"Behind die rhubarb plants; diey have such large leaves, larger even dian a fig leaf."

"Shame on you."

"No, shame on you, because you didn't catch me. Hulda, widi her big eyes, again failed to see anything. She is always slow." Hereupon Effi again flew away across the circle toward die pond, probably because she planned to hide at first behind a dense-growing hazelnut hedge over there, and dien from diat point to take a long roundabout way past the churchyard and die front house and dience back to die wing and die base. Everything was well calculated, but before she was half way round die pond she heard some one at die house calling her name and, as she turned around, saw her modier waving a handkerchief from die stone steps. In a moment Effi was standing by her.

"Now you see diat I knew what I was talking about. You still have that smock-frock on and die caller has arrived. You are never on time."

"I shall be on time, easily, but die caller has not kept his appointment. It is not yet one o'clock, not by a good deal," she said, and turning to die twins, who had been lagging behind, called to them: "Just go on playing; I shall be back right away."

The next moment Effi and her mama entered die spacious drawing-room, which occupied almost the whole ground floor of die side wing.

"Mama, you daren't scold me. It is really only half past. Why does he come so early? Cavaliers never arrive too late, much less too early."

Mrs. von Briest was evidendy embarrassed. But Effi cuddled up to her fondly and said: "Forgive me, I will hurry now. You know I can be quick, too, and in five minutes Cinderella will be transformed into a princess. Meanwiiile he can wait or chat with papa."

Bowing to her modier, she was about to trip lightly up die littie iron stairway leading from die drawing-room to die story above. But Mrs. von Briest, who could be unconventional on occasion, if she took a notion to, suddenly held

Effi back, cast a glance at die charming young creature, still all in a heat from the excitement of the game, a perfect picture of youthful freshness, and said in an almost confidential tone: "After all, die best tiling for you to do is to remain as you are. Yes, don't change. You look very well indeed. And even if you didn't, you look so unprepared, you show absolutely no signs of being dressed for die occasion, and that is the most important consideration at this moment. For I must tell you, my sweet Effi —" and she clasped her daughter's hands — "for I must tell you —"

"Why, mama, what in die world is die matter with you? You frighten me terribly."

"I must tell you, Effi, that Baron Innstetten has just asked me for your hand."

"Asked for my hand? In earnest?"

"That is not a matter to make a jest of. You saw him the day before yesterday and I think you liked him. To be sure, he is older than you, which, all tilings considered, is a fortunate circumstance. Besides, he is a man of character, position, and good breeding, and if you do not say 'no,' which I could hardly expect of my shrewd Effi, you will be standing at the age of twenty where others stand at forty. You will surpass your mama by far."

Effi remained silent, seeking a suitable answer. Before she could find one she heard her father's voice in the adjoining room. The next moment Councillor von Briest, a well preserved man in the fifties, and of pronounced bonhomie, entered die drawing-room, and with him Baron Innstetten, a man of slender figure, dark complexion, and military bearing.

When Effi caught sight of him she fell into a nervous tremble, but only for an instant, as almost at the very moment when he was approaching her with a friendly bow there appeared at one of die wide open vine-covered windows die sandy heads of the Jahnke twins, and Hertiia, the more hoidenish, called into the room: "Come, Effi." Then she ducked from sight and die two sprang from the back of the bench, upon which they had been standing, down into die garden and nothing more was heard from them except their giggling and laughing.


LATER in die day Baron Innstetten was betrothed to Effi von Briest. At die dinner which followed, her jovial father found it no easy matter to adjust himself to die solemn role diat had fallen to him He proposed a toast to die healdi of die young couple, which was not without its touching effect upon Mrs. von Briest, for she obviously recalled the experiences of scarcely eighteen years ago. However, die feeling did not last long. What it had been impossible for her to be, her daughter now was, in her stead. All diings considered, it was just as well, perhaps even better. For one could live widi von Briest, in spite of die fact diat he was a bit prosaic and now and dien showed a slight streak of frivolity. Toward die end of die meal — die ice was being served — die elderly baronial councillor once more arose to his feet to propose in a second speech diat from now on diey should all address each other by die familiar pronoun "Du." Thereupon he embraced Innstetten and gave him a kiss on die left cheek. But this was not the end of die matter for him. On die contrary, he went on to recommend, in addition to die "Du," a set of more intimate names and titles for use in die home, seeking to establish a sort of basis for hearty intercourse, at the same time preserving certain well-earned, and hence justified, distinctions. For his wife he suggested, as die best solution of die problem, die continuation of "Mama," for diere are young mamas, as well as old; whereas for himself, he was willing to forego die honorable title of "Papa," and could not help feeling a decided preference for die simple name of Briest, if for no other reason, because it was so beautifully short. "And dien as for die children," he said — at which word he had to give himself a jerk as he exchanged gazes with Innstetten, who was only about a dozen years his junior — "well, let Effi just remain Effi, and Geert, Geert. Geert, if I am not mistaken, signifies a tall and slender trunk, and so Effi may be die ivy destined to twine about it." At diese words die betrodied couple looked at each odier somewhat embarrassed, Effi's face showing at die same time an expression of childlike mirth, but Mrs. von Briest said : "Say what you like, Briest, and formulate your toasts to suit your own taste, but if you will allow me one request, avoid poetic imagery; it is beyond your sphere." These silencing words were received by von Briest with more assent dian dissent. "It is possible diat you are right, Luise."

Immediately after rising from die table, Effi took leave

to pay a visit over at die pastor's. On the way she said to herself: "I think Hulda will he vexed. I have got ahead of her after all. She always was too vain and conceited."

But Effi was not quite right in all that she expected. Hulda behaved very well, preserving her composure absolutely and leaving die indication of anger and vexation to her mother, the pastor's wife, who, indeed, made some very strange remarks. "Yes, yes, tiiat's die way it goes. Of course. Since it couldn't be die mother, it has to be die daughter. That's nodiing new. Old families always hold togedier, and where diere is a beginning diere will be an increase." The elder Niemeyer, painfully embarrassed by diese and similar pointed remarks, which showed a lack of culture and refinement, lamented once more die fact diat he had married a mere housekeeper.

After visiting die pastor's family Effi naturally went next to die home of the precentor Jahnke. The twins had been watching for her and received her in die front yard.

"Well, Effi," said Hertha, as all diree walked up and down between die two rows of amarandis, "well, Effi, how do you really feel?"

"How do I feel? O, quite well. We already say 'Du' to each odier and call each odier by our first names. His name is Geert, but it just occurs to me diat I have already told you diat."

"Yes, you have. But in spite of myself I feel so uneasy about it. Is he really die right man?"

"Certainly he is the right man. You don't know any-diing about such matters, Herdia. Any man is die right one. Of course he must be a nobleman, have a position, and be handsome."

"Goodness, Effi, how you do talk! You used to talk quite differendy."

"Yes, I used to."

"And are you quite happy already?"

"When one has been two hours betrodied, one is always quite happy. At least, diat is my idea about it."

"And don't you feel at all — oh, what shall I say? — a bit awkward? "

"Yes, I do feel a bit awkward, but not very. And I fancy I shall get over it."

After diese visits at die parsonage and die home of die precentor, which togedier had not consumed half an hour, Effi returned to die garden veranda, where coffee was about to be served. Fadier-in-law and son-in-law were walking up and down along the gravel padi by die plane trees.

Von Briest was talking about die difficulties of a district councillor's position, saying diat he had been offered one at various times, but had always declined. "The ability to have my own way in all matters has always been the tiling that was most to my liking, at least more — I beg your pardon, Innstetten — than always having to look up to some one else. For in the latter case one is always obliged to bear in mind and pay heed to exalted and most exalted superiors. That is no life for me. Here I live along in such liberty and rejoice at every green leaf and the wild grape-vine that grows over those windows yonder."

He spoke further in this vein, indulging in all sorts of anti-bureaucratic remarks, and excusing himself from time to time with a blunt "I beg your pardon, Innstetten," which he interjected in a variety of ways. The Baron mechanically nodded assent, but in reality paid little attention to what was said. He turned his gaze again and again, as though spellbound, to the wild grape-vine twining about the window, of which Briest had just spoken, and as his thoughts were thus engaged, it seemed to him as though he saw again the girls' sandy heads among the vines and heard the saucy call, "Come, Effi."

He did not believe in omens and the like; on the contrary, he was far from entertaining superstitious ideas. Nevertheless he could not rid his mind of the two words, and while Briest's peroration rambled on and on he had the constant feeling that the little incident was something more than mere chance.

Innstetten, who had taken only a short vacation, departed the following morning, after promising to write every day. "Yes, you must do that," Effi had said, and these words came from her heart. She had for years known nothing more delightful than, for example, to receive a large number of birthday letters. Everybody had to write her a letter for that day. Such expressions as "Gertrude and Clara join me in sending you heartiest congratulations," were tabooed. Gertrude and Clara, if they wished to be considered friends, had to see to it that they sent individual letters with separate postage stamps, and, if possible, foreign ones, from Switzerland or Carlsbad, for her birthday came in the traveling season.

Innstetten actually wrote every day, as he had promised The tiling that made the receipt of his letters particularly pleasurable was the circumstance that he expected in return only one very short letter every week. This he received regularly and it was always full of charming trifles, which never failed to delight him. Mrs. von Briest

undertook to carry on the correspondence widi her future son-in-law whenever there was any serious matter to be discussed, as, for example, die settling of die details of die wedding, and questions of die dowry and die furnishing of die new home. Innstetten was now nearly diree years in office, and his house in Kessin, while not splendidly furnished, was neverdieless very well suited to his station, and it seemed advisable to gain from correspondence widi him some idea of what he already had, in order not to buy anything superfluous. When Mrs. von Briest was finally well enough informed concerning all diese details it was decided diat die mother and daughter should go to Berlin, in order, as Briest expressed himself, to buy up the trousseau for Princess Effi.

Effi looked forward to die sojourn in Berlin widi great pleasure, die more so because her fatiier had consented diat diey should take lodgings in die Hotel du Nord. "Whatever it costs can be deducted from die dowry, you know, for Innstetten already has everydiing." Mrs. von Briest forbade such "mesquineries" in die future, once for all, but Effi, on die odier hand, joyously assented to her fadier's plan, without so much as stopping to think whether he had meant it as a jest or in earnest, for her thoughts were occupied far, far more widi die impression she and her modier should make by dieir appearance at die table d'hote, dian widi Spinn and Mencke, Goschenhofer, and odier such firms, whose names had been provisionally entered in her memorandum book. And her demeanor was entirely in keeping widi diese frivolous fancies, when die great Berlin week had actually come.

Cousin von Briest of the Alexander regiment, an uncommonly jolly young lieutenant, who took die Fliegende Blatter and kept a record of the best jokes, placed himself at die disposal of die ladies for every hour he should be off duty, and so they would sit widi him at die corner window of Kranzler's, or perhaps in die Cafe Bauer, when permissible, or would drive out in die afternoon to die Zoological Garden, to see die giraffes, of which Cousin von Briest, whose name, by die way, was Dagobert, was fond of saying: "They look like old maids of noble birth." Every day passed according to program, and on die diird or fourth day they went, as directed, to die National Gallery, because Dagobert wished to show his cousin die "Isle of die Blessed." "To be sure, Cousin Effi is on die point of marrying, and yet it may perhaps be well to have made die acquaintance of the 'Isle of die Blessed' beforehand." His aunt gave him a slap widi her fan, but accom-

panied the blow with such a gracious look that he saw no occasion to change the tone.

These were heavenly days for all three, no less for Cousin Dagobert dian for die ladies, for he was a past master in die art of escorting and always knew how quickly to compromise littie differences. Of die differences of opinion to be expected between modier and daughter diere was never any lack during die whole time, but fortunately diey never came out in connection widi die purchases to be made. Whedier diey bought a half dozen or diree dozen of a particular tiling, Effi was uniformly satisfied, and when diey talked, on die way home, about die prices of die articles bought, she regularly confounded die figures. Mrs. von Briest, ordinarily so critical, even toward her own beloved child, not only took diis apparent lack of interest lightiy, she even recognized in it an advantage. "All diese things," said she to herself, "do not mean much to Effi. Effi is unpretentious; she lives in her own ideas and dreams, and when one of die Hohenzollern princesses drives, by and bows a friendly greeting from her carriage diat means more to Effi dian a whole chest full of linen."

That was all correct enough, and yet only half die truth. Effi cared but littie for die possession of more or less commonplace tilings, but when she walked up and down Unter den Linden with her modier, and, after inspecting the most beautiful show-windows, went into Demuth's to buy a number of tilings for the honeymoon tour of Italy, her true character showed itself. Only die most elegant articles found favor in her sight, and, if she could not have die best, she forewent die second-best, because diis second meant nothing to her. Beyond question, she was able to forego — in that her mother was right — and in diis ability to forego diere was a certain amount of unpre-tentiousness. But when, by way of exception, it became a question of really possessing a tiling, it always had to be something out of the ordinary. In diis regard she was pretentious.


COUSIN Dagobert was at the station when die ladies took the train for Hohen-Cremmen. The Berlin sojourn had been a succession of happy days, chiefly because diere had been no suffering from disagreeable and, one might almost say, inferior relatives. Immediately after dieir arrival Effi had said: "This time we must remain incognito, so far as Aunt Therese is concerned. It will not do for her to come to see us here in tire hotel. Either Hotel du Nord or Aunt Therese; the two would not go together at all." The mother had finally agreed to this, had, in fact, sealed die agreement with a kiss on her daughter's forehead.

With Cousin Dagobert, of course, it was an entirely different matter. Not only did he have the social grace of die Guards, but also, what is more, die peculiarly good humor now almost a tradition with die officers of the Alexander regiment, and this enabled him from die outset to draw out both die modier and die daughter and keep them in good spirits to die end of dieir stay. "Dagobert," said Effi at die moment of parting, "remember that you are to come to my nuptial-eve celebration; that you are to bring a cortege goes without saying. But don't you bring any porter or mousetrap seller. For after die dieatrical performances diere will be a ball, and you must take into consideration that my first grand ball will probably be also my last. Fewer dian six companions — superb dancers, diat goes without saying — will not be approved. And you can return by die early morning train." Her cousin promised everything she asked and so they bade each other farewell.

Toward noon die two women arrived at dieir Havelland station in die middle of die marsh and after a drive of half an hour were at Hohen-Cremmen. Von Briest was very happy to have his wife and daughter at home again, and asked questions upon questions, but in most cases did not wait for die answers. Instead of diat he launched out into a long account of what he had experienced in die meantime. "A while ago you were telling me about die National Gallery and the 'Isle of the Blessed.' Well, while you were away, there was something going on here, too. It was our overseer Pink and the gardener's wife. Of course, I had to dismiss Pink, but it went against die grain to do it. It is very unfortunate diat such affairs almost always occur in die harvest season. And Pink was otherwise an uncommonly efficient man, though here, I regret to say, in die wrong place. But enough of that; Wilke is showing signs

of restlessness too."

At dinner von Briest listened better. The friendly intercourse with Cousin Dagobert, of whom he heard a good deal, met with his approval, less so die conduct toward Aunt Therese. But one could see plainly diat, at die same time that he was declaring his disapproval, he was rejoicing; for a litde mischievous trick just suited his taste, and Aunt Therese was unquestionably a ridiculous figure. He raised his glass and invited his wife and daughter to join him in a toast. After dinner, when some of die handsomest purchases were unpacked and laid before him for his judgment, he betrayed a great deal of interest, which still remained alive, or, at least did not die out entirely, even after he had glanced over die bills. "A little bit dear, or let us say, rather, very dear; however, it makes no difference. Everything has so much style about it, I might almost say, so much inspiration, that I feel in my bones, if you give me a trunk like that and a traveling rug like this for Christmas, I shall be ready to take our wedding journey after a delay of eighteen years, and we, too, shall be in Rome for Easter. What do you think, Luise! Shall we make up what we are behind? Better late than never."

Mrs. von Briest made a motion with her hand, as if to say : "Incorrigible," and then left him to his own humiliation, which, however, was not very deep.

The end of August had come, die wedding day (October the 3d) was drawing nearer, and in die manor house, as well as at die parsonage and die schoolhouse, all hands were incessantly occupied with die preparations for die pre-nuptial eve. Jalinke, faithful to his passion for Fritz Reuter, had fancied it would be particularly "ingenious " to have Bertha and Hertlia appear as Lining and Mining, speaking Low German, of course, whereas Hulda was to present die elder-tree scene of Kathchen von Heilbronn, with Lieutenant Engelbrecht of die Hussars as Wetter vom Strahl. Niemeyer, who by rights was die father of die idea, had felt no hesitation to compose additional lines containing a modest application to Innstetten and Effi. He himself was satisfied with his effort and at die end of die first rehearsal heard only very favorable criticisms of it, with one exception, to be sure, viz., that of his patron lord, and old friend, Briest, who, when he had heard die admixture of Kleist and Niemeyer, protested vigorously, though not on literary grounds. "High Lord, and over and over, High Lord — what does that mean? That is misleading and it distorts die whole situation, Innstetten is unques-

tionably a fine specimen of die race, a man of character and energy, but, when it comes to diat, die Briests are not of base parentage eidier. We are indisputably a historic family — let me add: 'Thank God' — and die Innstettens are not. The Innstettens are merely old, belong to die oldest nobility, if you like; but what does oldest nobility mean? I will not permit diat a von Briest, or even a figure in die wedding-eve performance, whom everybody must recognize as die counterpart of our Effi — I will not permit, I say, that a Briest eidier in person or through a representative speak incessantly of 'High Lord.' Certainly not, unless Innstetten were at least a disguised Hohenzollern; diere are some, you know. But he is not one and hence I can only repeat diat it distorts die whole situation."

For a long time von Briest really held fast to diis view widi remarkable tenacity. But after die second rehearsal, at which Kathchen was half in costume, wearing a tight-fitting velvet bodice, he was so carried away as to remark: "Kathchen lies diere beautifully," which turn was pretty much die equivalent of a surrender, or at least prepared die way for one. That all diese tilings were kept secret from Effi goes without saying. Widi more curiosity on her part, however, it would have been wholly impossible. But she had so little desire to find out about die preparations made and die surprises planned diat she declared to her mother widi all emphasis: "I can wait and see," and, when Mrs. von Briest still doubted her, Effi closed the conversation widi repeated assurances diat it was really true and her modier might just as well believe it And why not? It was all just a dieatrical performance, and prettier and more poetical dian Cinderella, which she had seen on die last evening in Berlin — no, on second diought, it couldn't be prettier and more poetical. In diis play she herself would have been glad to take a part, even if only for die purpose of making a chalk mark on die back of die ridiculous boarding-school teacher. "And how charming in die last act is 'Cinderella's awakening as a princess,' or at least as a countess! Really, it was just like a fairy tale." She often spoke in diis way, was for die most part more exuberant dian before, and was vexed only at die constant whisperings and mysterious conduct of her girl friends. "I wish diey felt less important and paid more attention to me. When die time conies diey will only forget dieir lines and I shall have to be in suspense on dieir account and be ashamed diat diey are my friends."

Thus ran Effi's scoffing remarks and diere was no mistaking die fact diat she was not troubling herself any too

much about the pre-nuptial exercises and the wedding day. Mrs. von Briest had her own ideas on die subject, but did not permit herself to worry about it, as Effi's mind was, to a considerable extent, occupied widi die future, which after all was a good sign. Furthermore Effi, by virtue of her wealdi of imagination, often launched out into descriptions of her future life in Kessin for a quarter of an hour at a time, — descriptions which, incidentally, and much to die amusement of her modier, revealed a remarkable conception of Furdier Pomerania, or, perhaps it would be more correct to say, they embodied diis conception, widi clever calculation and definite purpose. For Effi delighted to diink of Kessin as a half-Siberian locality, where die ice and snow never fully melted.

"Today Goschenhofer has sent die last tiling," said Mrs. von Briest, sitting, as was her custom, out in front of die wing of die mansion widi Effi at die work-table, upon which the supplies of linen and underclodiing kept increasing, whereas die newspapers, which merely took up space, were constandy decreasing. "I hope you have everything now, Effi. But if you still cherish little wishes you must speak diem out, if possible, diis very hour. Papa has sold die rape crop at a good price and is in an unusually good humor."

"Unusually? He is always in a good humor."

"In an unusually good humor," repeated die modier. "And it must be taken advantage of. So speak. Several times during our stay in Berlin I had die feeling diat you had a very special desire for something or odier more."

"Well, dear mama, what can I say? As a matter of fact I have everything diat one needs, I mean diat one needs here. But as it is once for all decided that I am to go so far north — let me say in passing diat I have no objections; on die contrary I look forward widi pleasure to it, to die northern lights and the brighter splendor of the stars — as diis has been definitely decided, I should like to have a set of furs."

"Why, Effi, child, diat is empty folly. You are not going to St Petersburg or Archangel."

"No, but I am a part of die way."