- “The Forbidden Intoxication”: a wife learns to be careful as to what she wishes for;
- “The Forbidden Marriage”: who decides whether a couple can marry?;
- “The Forbidden Play”: a tale of love and censorship;
- “Christin Dörthe’s Engagement”: who wouldn’t want to marry Christin Dörthe?;
- “Shy Marik”: a lesson on being shy; and
- “Uncle Pökel”: a tale of a treasure hunt.
At six o’clock in the morning, the bleak November day had lifted far enough that the little grey mice no longer felt safe on the walls, but fled in all directions. Straight to the head of Martin Kriews where an enormous cobweb swayed over the covers, they whizzed right there with a gentle chirp. At this moment, the smashed window casement was rattling imperceptibly, scantily patched up with straw, rags, and cardboard. But that happened only because Wilhelm Pölk, the fiance of Kriew’s only daughter, Helene, was taking his leave, or had just arrived.
The dreamily rapt father could not work that out exactly, it was just one of those things which could not be established so easily.
Then Martin Kriews straightened up for the second time. “What a joy, Sophie,” he rose breathing deeply, “when two are so fond of each other. That is for a set of parents the happiest and most sublime thing of all. Wife, just look at Wilhelm’s red face. I tell you, it’s not beaming from the cold or chilblains, it’s glowing with love. Wife, my sweety, didn’t I also stand before your window once like that? But the truth, the glory. Next to you, our daughter is a pure, white tallow candle. God, sweety, what a high noble beauty you were. Not all your womandhood was so pretty and plump. And if others had also hatched with your heat pimples — no, no, Sophie, I just mean — you see, for the pimples were something fantastical for me, something not everyone had. For people must have something special. And since then, wife, you have become even more beautiful.” It could have occurred to the gentle Kriews, the eternally unemployed, to some extent that only a very suspect clearing of her throat ever answered all these homages. In fact, Mrs Sophie Kriews, who was still being extolled by Martin, like the blind singer of the Iliad had paid homage to the Queen of Sparta in ancient times, had meanwhile peeled herself out of the neighbouring sack of straw. And see, you must confess with a look at the so highly praised woman that Kriews, the husband, possesses an unusually contented and selfless nature. For Sophie, the day labourer’s wife, who with the constant handicap of her husband carried out for him all external matters like harvesting potatoes, gathering straw, hauling wood, and yardwork; Sophie had actually far too much of the “special” in her. The ‘o’ shaped configuration of her feet, well yes, that arose from the constant stooping when gathering potatoes. That was thus to be excused. But why she was adorned with a growth on her left shoulder, that only dear God had to answer for with her creation, and it could be seen by Martin after all as a little piquant irregularity. What meanwhile set the most decisive monument to his lack of prejudice was the state of Sophie’s complexion. For it had to be admitted unfortunately that she hosted countless boils and chilblains on her cheeks which had, as a result of this invasion, assumed the revolutionary colours of France, namely blue, white, and red. And truly, to ignore this required the monstrously happy idealism of Martin Kriews, the eternally unemployed.