Page:Stories by Foreign Authors (German II).djvu/35

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33
CHRISTIAN GELLERT'S LAST CHRISTMAS.

no one; but you know of it yourself, and One above you knows, and how shall you be justified?" And he said to himself, "I'll stand by this: look, it is just nine; if no one ask the price of your wood until ten o'clock, until the stroke of ten,—until it has done striking, I mean; if no one ask, then the wood belongs to Professor Gellert: but if a buyer come, then it is a sign that you need not should not give it away. There, that's all settled. But how? what means this? Can you make your good deed dependent on such a chance as this? No, no; I don't mean it. But yet—yet—only for a joke, I'll try it."

Temptation kept him turning as it were in a circle, and still he stood with an apparently quiet heart by his wagon in the market. The people who heard him muttering in this way to himself looked at him with wonder, and passed by him to another wagon, as though he had not been there. It struck nine. Can you wait patiently another hour? Christopher lighted his pipe, and looked calmly on, while this and that load was driven off. It struck the quarter, half-hour, three-quarters. Christopher now put his pipe in his pocket; it had long been cold, and his hands were almost frozen; all his blood had rushed to his heart. Now it struck the full hour, stroke after stroke. At first he counted; then he fancied he had lost a stroke and miscalculated. Either voluntarily or involuntarily, he said to