The sequel to Hermann Stehr’s magnum opus, The Blessed Farm, retells the story from the viewpoint of Peter Brindeisener.
He always told me the same story, and when I saw him, I knew already how he would tell it this time. Sometimes his words galloped like horses which were being driven by whips up a steep mountain. At times the sentences dripped sluggishly and monotonously from his mouth. Then again a mysterious tremor glimmered in his voice — there was a drunken frenzy in his tale. But the upshot of his tale was strange — I always forgot it immediately. If he fell silent, it had already vanished. But the strangest thing was that the teller and his tale did not seem to stand in any connection to each other. I caught on to that only quite late, actually at the end of our acquaintance. He had managed this time to thread the needle in the garden of a large entertainment establishment on the edge of the city, and as I walked through the tumultuous company past overcrowded tables — around the craftsmen with their families, mineworkers and their dependants, shop assistants with and without partners, touts sat jammed in with factory girls — I felt someone’s gaze unpleasantly on me, and wanted to go down the steps of the large wooden verandah to stroll a little in the forest along the road by the railway embankment. But just as I had the first step under my foot, my head instinctively turned back, and I saw him in the backmost corner at an entirely empty table sitting before his cold grog and looking at me with a smile as if he wanted to say, it is all nonsense to act as if you wanted to go. Come here instead and sit down, your resistance is absolutely futile. And really, two minutes later I sat next to him as if it were the most natural thing, as if it had been my intention from the beginning to meet with him there. He was also not particularly excited at all when I took my place next to him, and he covered his right hand with his other, as was his manner, as if the backs of his hands were freezing. Long white hairs stood on the porous skin, thick as a horsehair coat. Of his face, I no longer noticed his excessively high forehead. Finally I said, “Mr Brindeisener, I actually wanted to stroll a little in the Tolke forest.”
At that his grey eyes passed lightly over me with a casual, yet so painful look. He gave no answer, instead tilting his face listening above the heads of the tumultuous company, towards the heavens, and then said drily and awkwardly, “The air is unsparingly clear.”
And then he let his unusually long, upper body sink down again as if he were collapsing a folding camera.
The mysterious cry for help of the old man seized me. But I pulled myself together again after a few seconds, and told myself that it was foolish to deliver my entire beautiful Sunday afternoon to this rotten bookkeeper from the match factory just to hear the story which I forgot again and again, and I hurried to the bottom of my beer glass with large, energetic gulps. Before I could pour down the rest, Brindeisener banged his stick resolutely between his spread legs and began his tale without preamble, “You must know, my young friend, that life is always too short a horse. You may sit on it however you wish. It is of no use. Either you fall forwards or you fall backwards and end up under the hooves and wheels.” And so on.