The Famine Village and Other Tales
- “The Famine Village”: a mother loses her hold over her son;
- “Blind”: a husband discovers how blind he really is;
- “The Deal”: a young man returns to reconcile with his lover and her father; and
- “The Pledge”: a young man swears an oath which he cannot hold.
The narrow, green stream crept idly to the sea. Glistening water lilies floated past, small sticks drove past, and sometimes blue, brown, and rosy spots appeared on the water, issuing from dripping tar.
It was early in the morning.
On the small cargo boat fastened to the worm-eaten brown bulwark with iron chains, bustling dominated.
The three sons of the mariner Christoph Holmsen stood on the deck, and let down into the hold the massive, misshapen wool bales which the small boat would bring to the Danish coast tomorrow, to Korsör.
The work was hard, and the three blond heroic figures worked restlessly.
No words were exchanged, no joke made, the large loads plunged incessantly into the depths. But though they did not converse, the three nevertheless thought for each other.
The two youngest kept count of the number of bales, according to which their wages were judged, and Jürgen, the eldest, heard here the waves of the sea swishing on the quiet water, he already saw the small boat flying along, far over the deserted surface, like the white heron, and over on the emerging beach —
He sighed as he loaded the heaviest of the bales onto his back.
He should not think of it, and yet, he saw her too distinctly. How she stood over there, the red-headed Göde with the white full arms, as if she awaited him so as to embrace him again like that time when she had not yet betrayed him.
A shudder shook Jürgen’s body so strongly that he had to sit down on one of the bales.
Then his father stood before him, a powerful man with a twisted grey beard. A mariner’s cap covered his large head.
“What’s wrong, Jürgen?”
His son looked up, taken aback, and turned blood-red, “Father — I — let me steer the boat,” he asked imploringly.
“No — you are staying at home this time,” the old man said definitely.
“Father, I beg you!”
“You are staying!”
The blond hero clasped the mariner’s arm and began whispering, “I will not meet Göde again, I promise you — only I must be at sea, it is to narrow for me here.”
“And you will go to your hussy again,” the old man countered sedately, and rocked his head; “as soon as you touch the yellow sand over there, you will do it. You will see her, and then you will forget that when she was your fiance, she went down, not with one, no, with many, many, and the disgrace will be there. No, it is fortunate that the hussy has moved over there with her parents, you should leave her there. And now to work!”
“So you are refusing me?”
The work resumed restlessly, and the old man strode onto land again to his small cottage.