Second Adventure

At this time there was a man in Frankfurt, who practised the strangest art possible. He was called the flea-tamer, from having succeeded⁠—and certainly not without much trouble and exertion⁠—in educating these little creatures, and teaching them to execute all sorts of pretty tricks. You saw with the greatest astonishment a troop of fleas upon a slab of highly-polished marble, who drew along little cannons, ammunition-wagons, and baggage-carts, while others leaped along by them with muskets in their arms, cartouche-boxes on their backs, and sabres at their sides. At the word of command from the artist, they performed the most difficult evolutions, and all seemed fuller of life and mirth than if they had been real soldiers, the marching consisted in the neatest entrechats and capers, and the faces about, right and left, in the most graceful pirouettes. The whole troop had a wonderful aplomb, and the general seemed to be at the same time a most admirable ballet master. But even more handsome and more wonderful were the little gold coaches, which were drawn by four, six, or eight fleas. Coachmen and servants were little gold flies, of the smallest kind and almost invisible, while that which sat within could not be well distinguished. One was involuntarily reminded of the equipage of Queen Mab, so admirably described by Shakespeare’s Mercutio, that it is easy to perceive she must often have travelled athwart his own nose.

But it was not till you overlooked the table with a good magnifying glass that the art of the flea-tamer developed itself in its full extent, for then first appeared the splendour and grace of the vessels, the fine workmanship of the arms, the glitter and neatness of the uniforms, all of which excited the profoundest admiration. It was quite impossible to imagine what instruments the flea-tamer could have used in making neatly and proportionately certain little collaterals, such as spurs and buttons, compared to which that matter seemed to be a very trifling task, which else had passed for a masterpiece of the tailor, namely, the fitting a flea with a pair of breeches; though, indeed, in this the most difficult part must have been the measuring.

The flea-tamer had abundance of visitors. Throughout the whole day the hall was never free from the curious, who were not deterred by the high price of admission. In the evening, too, the company was numerous, nay, almost more numerous, as then even those people, who cared little about such trickeries, came to admire a work which gave the flea-tamer quite another character, and acquired for him the real esteem of the philosopher. This work was a night-microscope, that, as the sun-microscope by day, like a magic lantern, flung the object, brightly lit up, upon a white ground, with a sharpness and distinctness which left nothing more to be wished. Moreover, the flea-tamer carried on a traffic with the finest microscopes that could be, and which were readily bought at a great price.

It chanced that a young man, called George Pepusch⁠—the kind reader will soon be better acquainted with him⁠—took a fancy to visit the flea-tamer late in the evening. Already, upon the stairs, he heard the clamour of a dispute that grew louder and louder with every moment, and at last became a perfect tempest. Just as he was about to enter, the door of the hall was violently flung open, and the multitude rushed out in a heap upon him, their faces pale with terror.

“The cursed wizard! The Satan’s-brood! I’ll denounce him to the supreme court! He shall out of the city, the false juggler!”

Such were the confused cries of the multitude, as, urged by fear and terror, they sought to get out of the house as quickly as possible.

A glance into the hall at once betrayed to the young Pepusch the cause of this horror, which had driven away the people. All within was alive, and a loathsome medley of the most hideous creatures filled the whole room. The race of beetles, spiders, leeches, gnats, magnified to excess, stretched out their probosces, crawled upon their long hairy legs, or fluttered their long wings. A more hideous spectacle Pepusch had never seen. He was even beginning to be sensible himself of horror, when something rough suddenly flew in his face, and he saw himself enveloped in a thick cloud of meal dust. His terror immediately left him, for he at once perceived that the rough thing could be nothing else than the round powdered wig of the flea-tamer⁠—which, in fact, it was.

By the time Pepusch had rubbed the powder from his eyes, the disgusting population of insects had vanished. The flea-tamer sat in his armchair quite exhausted.

“Leeuwenhoek!” exclaimed Pepusch to him, “Leeuwenhoek, do you see now what comes of your trickeries? You have again been forced to have recourse to your vassals to keep the people’s hands off you⁠—is it not so?”

“Is it you?” said the naturalist, in a faint voice, “Is it you, good Pepusch? Ah! it is all over with me⁠—clean over with me⁠—I am a lost man! Pepusch, I begin to believe that you really meant it well with me, and that I have not done wisely in making light of your warnings.”

Upon Pepusch’s quietly asking what had happened, the flea-tamer turned himself round with his armchair to the wall, held both his hands before his face, and cried out piteously to Pepusch to take up a glass and examine the marble slab. Already, with the naked eye, Pepusch observed that the little soldiers, etc. lay there as if dead, that nothing stirred any longer. The dexterous fleas appeared also to have taken another shape. But now, by means of the glass, Pepusch soon discovered that not a single flea was there, but what he had taken for them were nothing more than black peppercorns and fruit-seeds that stood in their uniforms.

“I know not,” began the flea-tamer, quite melancholy and overwhelmed, “I know not what evil spirit struck me with blindness, that I did not perceive the desertion of my army till the people were at the table and prepared for the spectacle. You may imagine, Pepusch, how, on seeing themselves deceived, the visitors first murmured, and then blazed out into fury. They accused me of the vilest deceit, and as they grew hotter and hotter, and would no longer listen to any excuses, they were falling upon me to take their own revenge. What could I do better, to shun a load of blows, than immediately set the great microscope into motion, and envelope the people in a cloud of insects, at which they were terrified, as is natural to them?”

“But,” said Pepusch, “tell me how it could possibly happen that your well-disciplined troop, which had shown so much fidelity to you, could so suddenly take themselves off, without your perceiving it at once?”

“Oh!” cried the flea-tamer, “O, Pepusch! He has deserted me! He by whom alone I was master⁠—He it is to whose treachery I ascribe all my blindness, all my misery!”

“Have I not,” said Pepusch, “have I not long ago warned you not to place your reliance upon tricks which you cannot execute without the possession of the master? and on how ticklish a point rests that possession, notwithstanding all your care, you have just now experienced.”

Pepusch further gave the flea-tamer to understand, that he could not at all comprehend how his being forced to give up these tricks could so much disturb his life, as the invention of the microscope, and his general dexterity in the preparation of microscopic glasses, had long ago established him. But the flea-tamer, on the other hand, maintained that very different things lay hid in these subtleties, and that he could not give them up without giving up his whole existence. Pepusch interrupted him by asking, “Where is Dörtje Elverdink?”

“Where is she?” screamed Leeuwenhoek, wringing his hands, “Where is Dörtje Elverdink? Gone! gone into the wide world! Vanished! But strike me dead at once, Pepusch, for I see your wrath growing: make short work of it with me!”

“There you see now,” said Pepusch, with a gloomy look, “You see now what comes of your folly, of your absurd proceedings. Who gave you a right to confine the poor Dörtje like a slave, and then again, merely for the sake of alluring people, to make a show of her like some wonder of natural history? Why did you put a force upon her inclinations, and not allow her to give me her hand, when you must have seen how dearly we loved each other? Fled, is she? Well then, she is no longer in your power, and although I do not at this moment know where to seek for her, yet am I convinced that I shall find her. There, Leeuwenhoek, put on your wig again, and submit to your destiny; that is the best thing you can do.”

The flea-tamer arranged his wig on his bald head with his left hand, while with his right he caught Pepusch by the arm, exclaiming,

“Pepusch, you are my real friend, for you are the only man in the whole city of Frankfurt, who know that I lie buried in the old church at Delft, since the year seventeen hundred and twenty-five, and yet have not betrayed it to anyone, even when you were angry with me on account of Dörtje Elverdink. If at times I cannot exactly get it into my head that I am actually that Antonie van Leeuwenhoek who lies buried at Delft, yet again I must believe it, when I consider my works and reflect upon my life, and on that account it is very agreeable to me that it is not at all spoken of. I now see, my dear Pepusch, that, in regard to Dörtje Elverdink, I have not acted rightly, although in a very different way from what you may well imagine: that is, I was right in pronouncing your suit to be an idle struggle; wrong, in not being open with you, in not telling you the real circumstances of Dörtje Elverdink. You would then have seen how praiseworthy it was to talk you out of wishes, the accomplishment of which could not be other than destructive. Pepusch, sit down by me, and hear a wonderful history.”

“That I am likely to do,” replied Pepusch with a malicious glance, sitting down in an armchair, opposite the flea-tamer, who thus began:

“As you are well versed, my dear friend, in history, you know, beyond doubt, that King Sekakis lived for many years in intimate intercourse with the Flower-Queen, and that the beautiful Princess Gamaheh was the fruit of this passion. But it is not so well known, nor can I tell you, in what way the Princess Gamaheh came to Famagusta. Many maintain, and not without reason, that the princess wished to conceal herself there from the odious Leech-Prince, the sworn enemy of the Flower-Queen. Be this as it may⁠—it happened once in Famagusta, that the princess was walking in the cool freshness of the evening, and chanced upon a pleasant cypress grove. Allured by the delightful sighings of the evening breeze, the murmurs of a brook, and the soft music of the birds, she stretched herself upon the moss, and quickly fell into a sound slumber. At this moment, the very enemy⁠—whom she had been so anxious to escape⁠—lifted his head out of the marshes, beheld the princess, and became so violently enamoured of the fair sleeper, that he could not resist an inclination to kiss her, and creeping forward, he kissed her under the left ear. Now you know, friend Pepusch, that when the Leech-Prince sets about kissing a fair one, she is lost, for he is the vilest bloodsucker in the world. So it happened on this occasion: the Leech-Prince kissed the poor Gamaheh so long, that all life left her, when he fell back gorged and intoxicated upon the moss, and was forced to be carried home by his servants, who hastily rolled out of their marshes. In vain the root mandragora toiled out of the earth, and laid itself upon the wound inflicted by the treacherous kisses of the Leech-Prince; in vain all the other flowers arose and joined in his lamentations: she was dead. Just then it happened that the genius, Thetel, was passing, and he too was deeply moved by Gamaheh’s beauty and her unlucky end. He took her in his arms, pressed her to his breast, and endeavoured to breathe new life into her, but still she awoke not from the sleep of death. Now too the genius perceived the odious prince⁠—who was so drunk and unwieldly that his servants had not been able to get him into his palace⁠—fell into a violent rage, and threw a whole handful of rock-salt upon him, at which he poured forth again all the purple blood which he had drawn from the princess, and then gave up his spirit in a wretched manner, amidst the most violent convulsions. All the flowers that stood around dipped their vestments in this ichor, and stained them, in perpetual remembrance of the murdered princess, with so bright a purple that no painter on earth can imitate it. You know, Pepusch, that the most beautiful pinks and hyacinths grow in that cypress grove where the Leech-Prince kissed to death the fair Gamaheh.

“The genius, Thetel, now thought of departing, as he had much to do at Samarkand before night, and cast a farewell look at the princess, when he seemed as if fixed by magic to the spot, and gazed on the fair one with deep emotion. Suddenly a thought struck him. Instead of going on farther, he took the princess in his arms, and rose with her high into the air, at which time two philosophers⁠—one of whom it should be said was myself⁠—were observing the course of the stars from the gallery of a lofty tower. They perceived high above them the genius, Thetel, with the fair Gamaheh, and at the same moment there fell upon one⁠—but that is nothing to the present matter. Both magicians had recognised the genius, but not the princess, and exhausted themselves in all manner of conjectures as to the meaning of this appearance, without being able to get at anything certain, or even probable. Soon after this the unhappy fate of the princess became generally known in Famagusta, and now the magicians knew how to interpret the vision of the genius with the maiden in his arms. Both imagined that the genius must certainly have found some means of recalling the princess into life, and resolved to make inquiries in Samarkand, where, according to their observations, he had manifestly directed his flight. But in Samarkand all were silent about the princess; no one knew a word.

“Many years had passed; the two magicians had quarrelled, as it will happen with learned men⁠—and the more learned the oftener⁠—and they only imparted to each other their most important discoveries from the iron force of custom. (You have not forgotten, Pepusch, that I myself am one of these magicians.) Well, I was not a little surprised at a communication from my colleague, which contained the most wonderful⁠—and at the same time the happiest⁠—intelligence of the princess that could be imagined. The matter was thus: by means of a scientific friend in Samarkand, my colleague had obtained the loveliest and rarest tulips, and as perfectly fresh as if they had been just cut from the stalk. His chief object was the microscopic examination of the interior portions, and in fact, of the petal. It was with this view that he was dissecting a beautiful tulip, and discovered in the cup a strange little kernel that struck him prodigiously, but how great was his astonishment when, on applying his glass, he perceived that the little kernel was nothing else than the Princess Gamaheh, who, pillowed in the petal of the tulip, seemed to slumber softly and calmly.

“However great the distance that separated me from my colleague, yet I set off immediately, and hastened to him. He had in the meantime put off all operations, to allow me the pleasure of a sight first, and perhaps, too, from the fear of spoiling something if he acted entirely from himself. I soon convinced myself of the perfect correctness of my colleague’s observations, and, like him, firmly believed that it were possible to snatch the princess from her sleep, and give her again her original form. The sublime spirit, dwelling within us, soon let us find the proper method, but as you, friend Pepusch, know very little⁠—in fact nothing at all⁠—of our art, it would be quite superfluous to describe to you the different operations which we went through to attain our object. It is sufficient if I tell you that by the dexterous use of various glasses⁠—for the most part prepared by myself⁠—we succeeded not only in drawing the princess uninjured from the flower, but in forwarding her growth, so that she soon attained her natural dimensions. Now, indeed, life was wanting, and this depended on the last and most difficult operations. We reflected her image by means of one of the best solar microscopes, and loosened it dexterously from the white wall, without the least injury. As soon as the shadow floated freely, it shot like lightning into the glass, which broke into a thousand shivers. The princess stood before us full of life and freshness. We shouted for joy, but so much the greater was our horror on perceiving that the circulation of the blood stopped precisely there where the Leech-Prince had fastened himself. She was just on the point of swooning, when we perceived on the very spot behind the left ear a little black dot, that quickly appeared and as quickly disappeared. Immediately the stagnation of the blood ceased, the princess revived, and our work had succeeded.

“Each of us⁠—that is, I and my colleague⁠—knew full well how invaluable was the possession of the princess, and each struggled for it, imagining that he had more right to it than the other. My colleague affirmed that the tulip, in which he had found the princess, was his property, and that he had made the first discovery, which he had imparted to me, and that I could only be deemed an assistant, who had no right to demand, as a reward of his labour, the work itself at which he had assisted. I, on the other hand, brought forward my invention of the last and most difficult process, which had restored the princess to life, and in the execution of which my colleague had only helped; so that, if he had any claims of propriety upon the embryo in the flower petal, yet the living person belonged to me. On this ground we quarrelled for many hours, till, having screamed ourselves hoarse, we at last came to a compromise. My colleague consigned the princess to me, in return for which I gave him an important glass, and this very glass is the cause of our present determined hostility. He affirms that I have treacherously purloined it⁠—an impudent falsehood⁠—and although I really know that the glass was lost in the transferring, yet I can declare, upon my honour and conscience, that I am not the cause of it, nor have I any idea how it could have happened. In fact, the glass is so small, that a grain of sand is about ten times larger. See, friend Pepusch: now I have told you all in confidence, and now you know that Dörtje Elverdink is none other than the revivified Princess Gamaheh, and must perceive that to such a high mysterious alliance a plain young man like you can have no⁠—”

“Stop!” interrupted George Pepusch, with a smile that was something satanic, “Stop! one confidence is worth another, and, therefore, I, on my side, will confide to you that I knew all that you have been telling me much earlier and much better than you did. I cannot laugh enough at your bigotry and your foolish pretensions. Know⁠—what you might have known long ago if your knowledge had not been confined to glass-grinding⁠—that I myself am the thistle, Zeherit, who stood where the princess had laid her head, and of whom you have thought fit to be silent through your whole history.”

“Pepusch!” cried the flea-tamer, “are you in your senses? The thistle, Zeherit, blooms in the distant Indies, in the beautiful valley, closed in by lofty rocks, where at times the wisest magi of the earth are wont to assemble: Lindhorst, the keeper of the records, can best inform you about it. And you, whom I have seen running about half starved with study and hunger, you pretend to be the thistle, Zeherit?”

“What a wise man you are, Leeuwenhoek!” said Pepusch, laughing: “Well, think of my person what you will, but do not be absurd enough to deny that, in the moment of the thistle Zeherit’s feeling the sweet breath of Gamaheh, he bloomed in glowing love and passion, and that, when he touched the temples of the sleeping princess, she too dreamt sweetly of love. Too late the Thistle perceived the Leech-Prince, whom he else had killed with his thorns in a moment, but yet, with the help of the root, Mandragora, he would have succeeded in recalling the princess to life, if the stupid genius, Thetel, had not interfered with his awkward remedies. It is true that in his passion the genius put his hand into the saltbox, which he is used to carry at his girdle when he travels, like Pantagruel, and flung a good handful at the Leech-Prince. But it is quite false that he killed him in so doing. All the salt fell into the marsh; not a single grain hit the prince, whom the thistle, Zeherit, slew with his thorns, and having thus avenged the murder of Gamaheh, devoted himself to death. It is the genius only⁠—who interfered in matters not concerning him⁠—that is the cause of the princess lying so long in the sleep of flowers; the Thistle awoke much earlier, for the death of both was but the same sleep, from which they revived, although in other forms. You will have completed the measure of your gross blunders, if you suppose that the Princess Gamaheh was formed exactly as Dörtje Elverdink now is, and that it is you who restored her to life. It happened to you, my good Leeuwenhoek, as it did to the awkward servant in the remarkable story of the Three Pomegranates; he freed two maidens from the fruit, without having first assured himself of the means of keeping them in life, and in consequence saw them perish miserably before his eyes. Not you, but he, who has escaped from you, whose loss you so deeply feel and lament; he it was who completed the work, which you began so awkwardly.”

“Ha!” cried the flea-tamer, quite beside himself, “Ha! ’twas so I suspected! But you, Pepusch, you, to whom I have shown so much kindness, you are my worst enemy: I see it well now. Instead of advising me, instead of assisting me in my misfortunes, you amuse me with all manner of nonsensical stories.”

“Nonsense yourself!” cried Pepusch, quite indignant. “You’ll rue your folly too late, you dreaming charlatan! I go to seek Dörtje Elverdink⁠—but that you may no longer mislead honest people⁠—”

He grasped at the screw which set all the microscopic machinery in motion⁠—

“Take my life at the same time!” roared the flea-tamer, but at the instant all crashed together, and he fell senseless to the ground.

“How is it,” said George Pepusch to himself, when he had got into the street, “How is it that one, who has the command of a nice warm chamber and a well-stuffed bed, wanders through the streets at night in the rain and storm? Because he has forgotten the house key, and he is driven moreover by love.”

He could answer himself not otherwise, and indeed his whole conduct seemed silly in his own estimation. He remembered the moment when he saw Dörtje Elverdink for the first time. Some years before the Flea-tamer had exhibited his arts in Berlin, and had found no slight audiences as long as the thing was new. Soon, however, people had seen enough of the educated and well-disciplined fleas, and even the paraphernalia of the diminutive race began not to be thought so very wonderful, although at first attributed almost to magic, and Leeuwenhoek seemed to have fallen into total oblivion. On a sudden, a report was spread that a niece of the artist, who had not appeared before, now attended the exhibitions⁠—a beautiful, lovely little maiden, and withal so strangely attired as to baffle description. The world of fashionables⁠—who, like leaders in a concert, are accustomed to give the time and tune to society⁠—now poured in, and as in this world everything is in extremes, the niece excited unparalleled astonishment. It soon became the mode to frequent the flea-tamer; he who had not seen his niece could not join in the common talk, and thus the artist was saved in his distress. As to the rest, no one could comprehend the name “Dörtje;” and as at this time a celebrated actress was displaying, in the part of the Queen of Golconda, all those high yet soft attractions which are peculiar to the sex, they called the fair Hollander by the royal name, Alina.

When George Pepusch came to Berlin, Leeuwenhoek’s fair niece was the talk of the day, and hence at the table of the hotel, where he lodged, scarcely anything else was spoken of but the little wonder that delighted all the men, young and old, and even the women themselves. Everyone pressed the newcomer to place himself on the pinnacle of the existing mode at Berlin, and see the Hollandress. Pepusch had an irritable, melancholy temperament; in every enjoyment he found too much of the bitter aftertaste, which indeed comes from the Stygian brook that runs through our whole life, and this made him gloomy and often unjust to all about him. It may be easily supposed that in this mood he was little inclined to run about after pretty girls, but he went nevertheless to the flea-tamer’s, less on account of the dangerous wonder than to confirm his preconceived opinion that here too, as so often in life, a strange madness was predominating. He found the Hollandress fair, indeed, and agreeable, but in considering her, he could not help smiling with self-satisfaction at his own sagacity, by the help of which he had already guessed that the heads, which the little one had so perfectly turned, must have been tolerably crazy before they left home.

The maiden had that light easy manner which evinces the best education; a mistress of that delightful coquetry, which, when it offers the fingertips to anyone, at the same time takes from him the power of receiving them, the lovely little creature knew how to attract her numerous visitors, as well as to restrain them within the bounds of the strictest decorum.

None troubled themselves about the stranger, who had leisure enough to observe all the actions of the fair one. But while he continued staring more and more at the beautiful face, there awoke in the deepest recesses of his mind a dark recollection, as if he had somewhere before seen the Hollandress, although in other relations and in other attire, and that he himself had at one time worn a very different form. In vain he tormented himself to bring this recollection to any clearness, yet still the idea of his having really seen the little creature before became more and more determinate. The blood mounted into his face, when at last someone gently jogged him, and whispered in his ear, “The lightning has struck you too, Mr. Philosopher, has it not?” It was his neighbour of the ordinary, to whom he had asserted that the ecstasy into which all had fallen was no better than madness, which would pass away as quickly as it had arisen.

Pepusch observed that while he had been gazing so fixedly on the little one, the hall had grown deserted. Now for the first time she seemed to be aware of his presence, and greeted him with graceful familiarity. From this time he could not get rid of her idea; he tormented himself through a sleepless night, only to come upon the trace of a recollection⁠—but in vain. The sight of the fair one, he rightly thought, could alone bring him to it, and the next day, and all the following days, he never omitted visiting the flea-tamer, and staring two or three hours together at the beautiful Dörtje Elverdink.

When a man cannot get rid of the idea of a beautiful woman who has riveted his attention, he has already made the first step towards love, and thus it happened that, at the very time Pepusch fancied he was only poring upon that faint recollection, he was already in love with the fair Hollandress.

Who would now trouble himself about the fleas, over whom Alina had gained so splendid a victory, attracting all within her own circle? The master himself felt that he was playing a somewhat silly part with his insects; he, therefore, locked up the whole troop for other times, and with much dexterity gave to his play another form, in which his niece played the principal character. He had hit upon the happy thought of giving evening entertainments, at a tolerably high rate of subscription, in which, after he had exhibited a few optical illusions, the further amusement of the company rested with his niece. Here the social talents of the fair one shone in full measure, and she took advantage of the least pause in the entertainment to give a new impulse to the party by songs, which she herself accompanied on the guitar. Her voice was not powerful; her manner was not imposing, often even against rule, but the sweetness and clearness of tone completely answered to her appearance, and when from her dark eyelashes she darted the soft glances, like gentle moonbeams, amongst the spectators, every breast heaved, and the censure of the most confirmed pedant was silenced.

Pepusch diligently prosecuted his studies in these evening entertainments, that is, he stared for two hours together at the Hollandress, and then left the hall with the rest of the company. Once he stood nearer to her than usual, and distinctly heard her saying to a young man, “Tell me, who is that lifeless spectre, that every evening stares at me for hours, and then disappears without a syllable?”

Pepusch was deeply hurt, and made such a clamour in his chamber, and acted so wildly, that no friend could have recognized him in his mad freaks. He swore, high and low, never again to see the malicious Hollandress, but for all that, did not fail appearing at Leeuwenhoek’s on the very next evening, at the usual hour, to stare at the lovely Dörtje more fixedly if that were possible, than ever. It is true, indeed, that even upon the steps he was mightily alarmed at finding himself there, and in all haste adopted the wise resolution of keeping quite at a distance from the fascinating creature. He even carried this plan into effect by creeping into a corner of the hall, but the attempt to cast down his eyes failed entirely, and as before said, he gazed on the Hollandress more determinedly than ever. Yet he did not know how it happened that on a sudden Dörtje Elverdink was standing in his corner close beside him. With a voice that was melody itself, the fair one said, “I do not remember, sir, having seen you anywhere before our meeting here at Berlin, and yet I find in your features, in all your manner, so much that seems familiar. Nay, it is as if in times long past we had been very intimate, but in a distant country and in other relations. I entreat you: free me from this uncertainty, and if I am not deceived by some resemblance, let us renew the friendship, which floats in dim recollection like some delightful dream.”

George Pepusch felt strangely at this address; his breast heaved, his forehead glowed, and a shudder ran through all his limbs as if he had lain in a violent fever. Though this might mean nothing else than that he was head over ears in love, yet there was another cause for this perturbation, which robbed him of all speech, and almost of his senses. When Dörtje Elverdink spoke of her belief that she had known him long before, it seemed to him as if another image was presented to his inward mind as in a magic lantern, and he perceived a long removed self, which lay far back in time. The idea, that by much meditation had assumed a clear and firm shape, flashed up in this moment, and this was nothing less than that Dörtje Elverdink was the Princess Gamaheh, daughter of King Sekakis, whom he had loved in a remote period, when he flourished as the thistle, Zeherit. It was well that he did not communicate this fancy to other folks, as he would most probably have been reckoned mad, and confined as such, although the fixed idea of a partial maniac may often, perhaps, be nothing more than the illusions of a preceding existence.

“Good God! you seem dumb, sir!” said the little one, touching George’s breast with the prettiest finger imaginable, and from the tip of it shot an electric spark into his heart, and he awoke from his stupefaction. He seized her hand in a perfect ecstasy, covered it with burning kisses, and exclaimed, “Heavenly, angelic creature!” etc., etc., etc. The kind reader will easily imagine all that George Pepusch would exclaim in a such a moment. It is sufficient to say, that she received his love-protests as kindly as could be wished, and that the fateful moment, in the corner of Leeuwenhoek’s hall, brought forth a love affair that first raised the good George Pepusch up to heaven, and then again plunged him into hell. As he happened to be of a melancholy temperament, and withal pettish and suspicious, Dörtje’s conduct could not fail of giving rise to many little jealousies. Now it was precisely these jealousies that tickled Dörtje’s malicious humour, and it was her delight to torment the poor George Pepusch in a variety of ways, but as everything can be carried only to a certain point, so at last the long-smothered resentment of the lover blazed forth. He was speaking of that wondrous time when he, as the thistle, Zeherit, had so dearly loved the fair Hollandress, who was then the daughter of King Sekakis, and was reminding her, with all the fire of love, that the circumstance of his battle with the Leech-Prince had given him the most incontestable right to her hand. On her part, she declared that she well remembered it, and had already felt the foreboding of it, when Pepusch gazed on her with the thistle-glance; she spoke, too, so sweetly of these wonderful matters, seemed so inspired with love to the thistle, Zeherit, who had been destined to study at Jena, and then again find the Princess Gamaheh in Berlin, that George Pepusch fancied himself in the El Dorado of all delight. The lovers stood at the window, and the little one suffered her enamoured friend to wind his arm about her. In this familiar position they caressed each other, for to that at last came the dreamy talk about the wonders in Famagusta, when it chanced that a handsome officer of the guards passed by in a brand-new uniform, and familiarly greeted the little one, whom he knew from the evening entertainments; Dörtje had half closed her eyes and turned away her head from the street, so that one would have thought it was impossible for her to see the officer, but great is the magic of a fine new uniform! The little one⁠—roused, perhaps, by the clatter of the sabre on the pavement⁠—opened her eyes broad and bright, twisted herself from George’s arm, flung open the window, threw a kiss to the officer, and watched him till he had disappeared round the corner.

“Gamaheh!” shouted George Pepusch, quite beside himself, “Gamaheh! What is this? Do you mock me? Is this the faith you have promised to your Thistle?”

The little one turned round upon her heel, burst into a loud laughter, and exclaimed⁠—

“Go, go, George; if I am the daughter of the worthy old King Sekakis, if you are the thistle, Zeherit, that dear officer is the genius, Thetel, who, in fact, pleases me much better than the sad thorny thistle.”

With this she darted away through the door, while George Pepusch, as might be expected, fell immediately into a fit of desperation, and rushed down the steps as if he had been driven by a thousand devils. Fate would have it, that he met a friend, in a post-chaise, who was leaving Berlin, upon which he called out, “Halt! I go with you,” flew home, donned a great coat, put money in his purse, gave the key of his room to the hostess, seated himself in the chaise, and posted off with his friend.

Notwithstanding this hostile separation, his love to the fair Hollandress was by no means extinguished⁠—and just as little could he resolve to give up the fair claims, which, as the thistle Zeherit, he thought he had to the hand and heart of Gamaheh⁠—he renewed therefore his pretensions, when some years afterwards he met with Leeuwenhoek again at the Hague, and how zealously he followed her in Frankfurt the reader has learned already.

George Pepusch was wandering through the streets at night, quite inconsolable, when his attention was attracted by an unusually bright light that fell upon the street from a crevice in the window-shutter in the lower room of a large house. He thought that there must be fire in the chamber, and swung himself up by means of the ironwork to look in. Boundless was his surprise at what he saw. A large fire blazed in the chimney, which was opposite to the window, before which sat, or rather lay, the little Hollandress in a broad old-fashioned armchair, dressed out like an angel. She seemed to sleep, while a withered old man knelt before the fire, and with spectacles on his nose, peeped into a kettle, in which he was probably brewing some potion. Pepusch was trying to raise himself higher to get a better view of the group, when he felt himself seized by the legs, and violently pulled down. A harsh voice exclaimed, “Now only see the rascal! To the watchhouse, my master!” It was the watchman who had observed George climbing up the window, and could not suppose otherwise than that he wanted to break into the house. In spite of all protestations, George Pepusch was dragged off by the watchman, to whose help the patrol had hastened, and thus his nightly wandering ended merrily in the watchhouse.