Then his good mother broke in, in her turn, with vivacity speaking"Son, you are certainly right. We parents set the example.'Twas not in time of pleasure that we made choice of each other,And 'twas the saddest of hours, that knitted us closely together.Monday morning,--how well I remember! the very day afterThat most terrible fire occurr'd which burnt down the borough,Twenty years ago now; the day, like to-day, was a Sunday,Hot and dry was the weather, and little available water.All the inhabitants, clothed in their festival garments, were walking,Scatter'd about in the inns and the mills of the neighbouring hamlets.At one end of the town the fire broke out, and the flames ranHastily all through the streets, impell'd by the draught they created.And the barns were consumed, where all the rich harvest was gather'dAnd all the streets as far as the market; the dwelling house alsoOf my father hard by was destroy'd, as likewise was this one.Little indeed could we save; I sat the sorrowful night throughOn the green of the town, protecting the beds and the boxes.Finally sleep overtook me, and when by the cool breeze of morningWhich dies away when the sun arises I was awaken'd,Saw I the smoke and the glow, and the half-consumed walls and the chimneys.Then my heart was sorely afflicted; but soon in his gloryRose the sun more brilliant than ever, my spirits reviving.Then in haste I arose, impell'd the site to revisitWhere our dwelling had stood, to see if the chickens were livingWhich I especially loved; for childlike I still was by nature.But when over the ruins of courtyard and house I was climbing,Which still smoked, and saw my dwelling destroy'd and deserted,You came up on the other side, the ruins exploring.You had a horse shut up in his stall; the still-glowing raftersOver it lay, and rubbish, and nought could be seen of the creature.Over against each other we stood, in doubt and in sorrow,For the wall had fallen which used to sever our courtyards;And you grasp'd my hand, addressing me softly as follows'Lizzy, what here are you doing? Away! Your soles you are burning,For the rubbish is hot, and is scorching my boots which are thicker.'Then you lifted me up, and carried me off through your courtyard.There still stood the gateway before the house, with its arch'd roof,Just as it now is standing, the only thing left remaining.And you sat me down and kiss'd me, and I tried to stop you,But you presently said, with kindly words full of meaning'See, my house is destroy'd! Stop here and help me to build it,I in return will help to rebuild the house of your father.'I understood you not, till you sent to my father your mother,And ere long our marriage fulfilid the troth we soon plighted.Still to this day I remember with pleasure the half-consumed rafters,Still do I see the sun in all his majesty rising,For on that day I gain'd my husband; the son of my youth tooGained I during that earliest time of the wild desolation.Therefore commend I you, Hermann, for having with confidence guilelessTurn'd towards marriage your thoughts in such a period of mourning,And for daring to woo in war and over the ruins.--"
But you still delay'd, good cautious neighbour, and spoke thusFriend, I will gladly entrust to you soul, and spirit, and mind too,But my body and bones are not preserved in the best wayWhen the hand of a parson such worldly matters as reins grasps!"