Sixth Adventure

All the passersby stopped, stretched out their necks, and peeped through the window into the coffee room. With every moment the crowd grew greater, the pressure more violent, and the noise louder. All this was occasioned by two strangers, who⁠—besides that their form, their dress, their whole manner had something extraordinary about it, that was repulsive and ridiculous at the same time⁠—played off many wonderful tricks, such as had never been seen before. The one, an old man, of a dirty, disagreeable appearance, was dressed in a surtout of shining stuff. Sometimes he made himself thin and long, sometimes he would shrink himself up to a short fat fellow, winding about all the time like a worm. The other, with powdered hair, motly silk coat, underdress of the same, large silver buckles, and altogether resembling a petit-maître of the last half of the foregoing century, repeatedly flew up to the ceiling, and then gently let himself down again, while, with a cheerful voice, he trilled discordant songs in a language altogether unknown.

According to the host’s declaration, they had both come in⁠—one a short time after the other⁠—like orderly people, and had called for wine. Then they had gazed more and more keenly on each other, and entered into conversation, and although the language of it was unintelligible to all the guests, yet their tone and manner showed they were engaged in a dispute, which grew warmer and warmer. On a sudden they had taken their present form and began these mad tricks, which continually attracted more spectators.

“The man who flies up and down so admirably,” exclaimed one of the spectators, “is the clockmaker Degen, of Vienna⁠—he who invented the flying machine, with which he is constantly contriving to tumble down upon his nose.”

“No,” replied another, “that is not the clockmaker. I should rather fancy that it was the Little Tailor of Sachsenhausen, if I did not know that the poor thing was burnt.”

I know not whether my readers are acquainted with the Little Tailor of Sachsenhausen? Here it is.

History of the Little Tailor of Sachsenhausen

It happened that a pious little tailor at Sachsenhausen was coming out of church one Sunday with his wife, in all his best attire. The air was raw, the little tailor had taken nothing over night but a soft boiled egg and a few pickled gerkins, and in the morning a cup of coffee. Moreover he had been singing most vehemently in the church, and hence he began to feel in a piteous plight, and to long for a dram. As he had worked hard through the week, and had been particularly kind to his better half, making her a very pretty gown out of the pieces cabbaged from his customers, she consented to his going into the apothecary’s and getting himself a dram, which he did accordingly. The awkward apprentice, who was alone in the shop, made a mistake, and took down a bottle which, instead of a dram, contained inflammable gas, wherewith balloons are filled. Of this the apprentice poured out a full glass, and the tailor, putting it at once to his mouth, swallowed off the gas as an agreeable reviver. It made him, however, feel very strangely⁠—as if he had got a pair of wings on his shoulders, or as if someone were playing at football with him, for he felt himself compelled to jump up and down in the shop, and with every moment the impetus increased.

“Eh! Gemini! Gemini!” he cried, “What a nimble dancer I have grown!”

The apothecary’s apprentice stood with his mouth gaping wide from pure wonder, when it chanced that someone opened the door so hastily, that the opposite window flew open also. A strong current of air poured in, caught up the little tailor, and away he sailed through the window, since when he has not been seen. But it happened some time after, that the people of Sachsenhausen observed in the air a fireball, which lighted the whole country with its brightness, and then, being extinguished, fell to earth. All were eager to know what had dropped, and ran to the place, but found nothing more than a little heap of ashes, but with this the tongue of a shoe-buckle, a little piece of yellow satin with flowers, and something black, which to look at was like the horn-top of a walking stick. All were in deep council how such things could fall down from heaven in a fireball, when the wife of the departed tailor came up, and, on seeing these things, wrung her hands, took on most piteously, and cried out, “Ah, woe! that is my husband’s buckle! Ah, woe! that is my husband’s Sunday waistcoat! Ah, woe! that is my husband’s cane-top!” A very learned man, however, has declared that the cane-top was no cane-top, but a meteoric ball, or an abortive globe.

Thus was made known to the people of Sachsenhausen and to all the world that the poor little tailor⁠—to whom the apothecary’s apprentice had given inflammable gas instead of a dram⁠—was burnt in the air, and had fallen to earth, as a meteoric ball, or an abortive globe.

The taverner was at length impatient that the odd guest did not cease making himself now larger now smaller, without paying him any attention, and held the flask of Burgundy, which he had ordered, close to his nose. The stranger caught fast hold of it immediately, and did not let go till he had drained the last drop; then he sank as if fainting into an armchair, and could scarcely move himself.

The guests observed with astonishment that he swelled more and more during the drinking, and now appeared quite thick and shapeless. The fly-work of the other seemed also to be at a stand; he was about to sit down, panting and breathless, but, perceiving how his adversary lay there, half dead, he flew suddenly upon him, and began to belabour him soundly with his fists. The host, however, pulled him off, and declared that he would turn him out of the house, if he did not keep quiet. If they both wished to show their juggler’s tricks, they were welcome to do so, but without quarrelling and fighting like blackguards.

The flying gentleman seemed to take it somewhat ill that the host should suppose he was a juggler. He protested that he was nothing less than a vagabond, who went about playing off legerdemain tricks; he had formerly been ballet master to a celebrated king, but now practised in private as an amateur, and was called⁠—as his functions required he should be⁠—Legénie. If, in his just indignation at the abominable fellow there, he had sprung somewhat higher than was fitting, that was his own business, and concerned no one else.

The host on his part opined, that all this did not justify any fisticuffs; to which the amateur replied that mine host did not know the malicious fellow, or he would willingly allow his back to be drubbed black and blue. He had formerly been a French customhouse officer, and now gained a livelihood by bloodletting, cupping, and shaving, and was called Monsieur Leech, a nuisance to everybody, by his awkwardness, stupidity, and gluttony. It was not enough that the scoundrel, wherever he met him, whisked away the wine from his very lips, as he had done just now, but he was plotting to carry off his bride, whom he intended to carry home from Frankfurt.

The Douanier had heard all that the Amateur advanced, and, glancing at him with his little malicious eyes, said to the host, “Don’t believe a syllable that the gallows-bird there is chattering. An admirable ballet master, truly! who with his elephant feet crushes the legs of the fair dancers, and with his pirouette knocks a tooth out of the manager’s jaw at the wing. And his verses, too! They have as awkward feet as himself, and tumble here and there like drunkards, treading the thoughts to pap. Because he flutters heavily in the air at times, like a drowsy gander, the conceited peacock fancies he is to have the fair one for his bride.”

At this the indignant Amateur cried out, “Thou Satan’s worm, thou shalt feel the gander’s beak,” and would have fallen upon the Douanier again, when the host seized him from behind, with strong arm, and, amidst the rejoicing of the assembled crowd, flung him out of the window.

No sooner was the Amateur gone than Monsieur Leech resumed the plain solid form in which he had entered. The people without took him for quite another person than the juggler, who had played such strange tricks, and quietly dispersed. The Douanier thanked mine host in the most obliging terms for his aid against the Amateur, and, to prove his gratitude, offered to shave him for nothing, and more pleasantly than ever he had been shaved in his life before. The host felt his beard, and it seeming to him at the moment as if the hairs were terribly long, he accepted Mr. Leech’s offer, who accordingly set about it, at first, with a light, dexterous hand, but on a sudden he cut his nose so shrewdly, that the blood streamed down. The host, deeming this to be nothing else than malice, seized the Douanier, who flew as nimbly out of the door as the Amateur through the window. Immediately after, there arose a loud tumult without, and scarcely allowing himself time to stop the bleeding of his nose with lint, he flew out to see what devil was raising this new uproar. There, to his no little astonishment, he saw a young man, who with one hand grasped the Amateur, and with the other the Douanier, and with rolling eyes exclaimed, “Ha! Satan’s brood! you shall not cross my way, you shall not rob me of Gamaheh!” while his prisoners intermixed their cries of, “A madman! Save⁠—save us, host⁠—he mistakes us⁠—he will murder us⁠—”

“Eh!” cried the host, “what are you about, my good Mr. Pepusch? Have you been offended by these strange people? Perhaps you are mistaken in them. This is the Ballet Master, Monsieur Legénie, and this the Douanier, Monsieur Leech.”

“Ballet Master Legénie! Douanier Leech!” repeated Pepusch, in a hollow voice.

He seemed as if waking out of a dream, and trying to recollect himself. In the meantime two honest citizens, of his acquaintance, came out of the inn, who joined in persuading him to be quiet, and let the fellows go about their business.

Again Pepusch exclaimed, “Ballet Master Legénie! Douanier Leech!” and let his arms drop powerless by his side. With the speed of wind, the released prisoners were off, and it seemed to many in the street as if the Amateur fled over the roofs of the neighbouring houses, and the barber was lost in the puddle that had collected itself between the stones before the door.

The two citizens invited the distracted Pepusch to come in and drink a glass of old hock with them, an offer which he readily accepted, and seemed to enjoy the generous wine, though he sat silent and abstracted, and answered not a word to all that could be said to him. At last, however, his features brightened up, and he said, very kindly, “You did well, my friends, in hindering me from killing on the spot those wretches, who were in my power. But you know not what dangerous creatures lurk beneath their masks.”

Pepusch paused, and it may be easily supposed with what eagerness the citizens waited for what he had to discover. The host also had approached them, and all three poked their heads together, with their arms crossed upon the table, and held in their breath, that they might not lose a syllable from Pepusch’s mouth.

“See, my good people,” he continued solemnly, “see; he⁠—whom you call the Ballet Master, Legénie⁠—is none other than the evil, awkward genius, Thetel; the other, whom you take for the Douanier, Leech, is the hateful bloodsucker, the Leech-Prince. Both are in love with the Princess, Gamaheh, who as you know, is the daughter of the mighty king, Sekakis, and are here to make her false to the Thistle, Zeherit. This is the greatest folly that ever entered into a foolish brain, for besides the Thistle, Zeherit, there is but one person in the world to whom she can belong, and this person would perhaps vainly enter into the contest with Zeherit. For soon the Thistle will bloom at midnight in full splendour and strength, and in the death of love dawns the morning of a higher life. Now, I myself am the Thistle, Zeherit, and, therefore, my good friends, you cannot blame me if I am indignant with those traitors, and altogether take the whole affair much to heart.”

The three listeners opened their eyes wide, and stared, speechlessly, at Pepusch, with open mouths. They had tumbled out of the clouds, as people say, and their heads were humming with the fall. But Pepusch emptied a bumper, and, turning to the host, said, “Yes, yes, mine host; you will soon see that I shall bloom as the Cactus grandiflorus, and the whole country round will be impregnated with its perfume. You may believe me, friends.”

The host could utter nothing but an exclamation of stupid surprise, “Eh! that would be the deuce!” The two citizens exchanged mysterious glances, and one, taking George’s hand, said with a doubtful smile, “You seem to be somewhat disquieted, my good Mr. Pepusch; how, if you were to take a glass of water, and⁠—”

“Not a drop!” exclaimed Pepusch, interrupting the well-meant counsel, “Not a drop! Has water ever been poured upon boiling oil without increasing the fury of the flames? I am disquieted, you say? In truth that may well be the case; how the devil can I be otherwise, after having exchanged shots with my bosom friend, and then sending a bullet through my own brain? Here, into your hands I deliver up the murderous weapons, now that all is over.”

Pepusch drew a brace of pistols from his pocket, whereat the host started back; the citizens snatched at them, but no sooner had they fairly hold of them, than they burst out into immoderate laughter. The pistols were of wood, a plaything from the Christmas fair.

Pepusch seemed to pay no attention to what was going on about him; he sat in deep thought, and continually cried out, “If I could but find him! if I could but find him!”

The host took courage, and modestly asked, “Whom do you mean, my good Mr. Pepusch? Whom can you not find?”

“Know you,” said Pepusch solemnly, and fixing the host with a keen gaze, “Know you anyone to be compared, in might and wondrous power, with the king Sekakis; then name his name and I will kiss your feet. But for the rest, I would ask you if you know anyone who is acquainted with Mr. Peregrine Tyss, and can tell me where I may meet him at this present moment?”

To this the host replied, smirking amiably, “Here I can serve you, respected Mr. Pepusch, and inform you that he was with me an hour ago, taking a glass of wine. He was very thoughtful, and when I asked ‘What news on ’Change? he suddenly cried out, ‘Yes, sweet Gamaheh! I have renounced you! Be happy in my George’s arms!’ Upon this a thin curious voice said, ‘Let us now go to Leeuwenhoek’s, and peep into the horoscope.’ Immediately Mr. Tyss emptied his glass, and they went away together⁠—that is, Mr. Tyss and the voice without a body. Probably they have gone to Leeuwenhoek’s, who is lamenting that his well-disciplined fleas have, one and all, deserted him.”

The words were scarcely out of the host’s mouth than George started up in a fury, and, seizing him by the throat, cried out, “Scoundrel, what do you say? Renounced? renounced her Gamaheh! Peregrine! Sekakis!”

The host’s story, however, was perfectly correct. He had heard Master Flea, who was summoning Peregrine, in his fine silver tones, to go to the microscopist, Leeuwenhoek, for what purpose the reader knows already: Peregrine had really gone thither, and was received by Leeuwenhoek with that soft odious friendliness⁠—and that humility of compliment⁠—which announce the burdensome and reluctant recognition of superiority. But, as Mr. Tyss had the microscopic glass in the pupil of his eye, all this complimenting and subservience availed Antonie van Leeuwenhoek nothing in the world; on the contrary, Peregrine only the more discovered the hatred which filled the heart of the microscopist. While he protested how much he felt honoured and rejoiced by Mr. Tyss’s visit, the thoughts ran thus: “I wish that the devil had plunged you ten thousand fathoms deep in the abyss! But I must feign friendship and submission towards you, as the cursed constellation has placed me under your dominion, and my whole being in some sort depends upon you. But perhaps I may be able to outwit you, for, in spite of your high descent, you are a simple fool. You fancy that Dörtje Elverdink loves you, and will perhaps marry her. Only come to me about it and you fall into my hands, in spite of the power that dwells within you without your knowing it, and I will employ everything to ruin you, and gain possession of Dörtje and Master Flea.”

Peregrine naturally regulated his conduct by these thoughts, and took good care not to say a syllable about Dörtje Elverdink, and pretended that he came to see Leeuwenhoek’s collection of natural rarities.

While now Leeuwenhoek opened the great drawers, Master Flea whispered very gently in Peregine’s ear, that his (Peregrine’s) horoscope was lying on the table by the window. Here he saw all manner of lines, that mysteriously crossed each other, and many other wonderful signs, but as he was entirely deficient in astronomical knowledge, all remained confused and dark to him, look as keenly as he would. Yet it seemed strange to him, that, in the bright red point, in the middle of the table on which the horoscope was drawn, he plainly recognised himself. The longer he looked at this point, the more it gained the shape of a heart, and the more brightly it reddened. Still it only sparkled as through a web, with which it was overspread.

Peregrine plainly saw that Leeuwenhoek wanted to draw off his attention from the horoscope, and as he ran no risk of being deceived, very rationally resolved to question his friendly enemy at once, and without any circumlocution, as to the meaning of the mysterious table. Leeuwenhoek assured him, with a malicious smile, that nothing would give him greater pleasure than the explaining to his respected friend the signs upon the table, which he himself had drawn, according to his slight knowledge in such matters.

The thoughts ran thus: “Hoho! are you after that, my wise sir? In truth Master Flea has not advised you ill. I myself am to explain the table, and help you to the understanding of the magic might that dwells in your worthy person! I might invent some lies for you, but of what use would it be? For if I were to tell you the truth, you would not understand a syllable, but would remain stupid as ever? From pure convenience, therefore, and not to put myself to the trouble of invention, I will tell you so much of the signs of the table as seems good to me.”

Peregrine knew now that if he were not to learn all, at least he would not be deceived with falsehoods.

Leeuwenhoek placed the tablet on something like an easel, which he brought forward from a corner of the room, and both seating themselves before it, considered it for a time in silence. At length Leeuwenhoek began with much solemnity:

“You, perhaps, do not suspect that those lines, those characters on the table, which you are so attentively considering, are your own horoscope, drawn by myself, with mysterious astrologic art, under the favourable influence of the stars. How came you to such a presumptuous idea? what could make you wish to unravel the web of my fate, to read my destiny? so might you ask, my friend, and with perfect justice, if I were not able to show you my inward call thereto. I know not whether you have heard of the celebrated rabbi Isaac Ben Harravad. Among other profound knowledge he had the strange gift of reading by men’s faces whether the soul had previously inhabited another body, or whether it was to be considered quite fresh and new. I was yet very young when the rabbi died of an indigestion, brought on by eating of a dish highly seasoned with garlic. The Jews ran away with the body so quickly that the deceased had not time to collect and carry off all his knowledge, which the illness had scattered. Laughing heirs divided the property, but I had fished off that wonderful seer-gift, in the very moment that the Angel of Death had set his sword upon the rabbi’s breast. In this way the wonderful faculty has come to me, and I, like the rabbi Isaac Ben Harravad, can read in the faces of men, whether the soul has before occupied another body or not. Your brow, Mr. Tyss, when I saw it the first time, excited the strangest thoughts and doubts. I was certain of the previous existence of your soul long ago, and yet the form, prior to your present life, remained a perfect mystery. I was forced to have recourse to the stars, and draw your horoscope, to solve the difficulty.”

“Well!” exclaimed Peregrine, “And have you discovered anything, Mr. Leeuwenhoek?”

“Certainly!” replied Leeuwenhoek, assuming a still more solemn tone, “Certainly! I have discovered that the physical principle⁠—which now animates the agreeable body of my very worthy friend, Mr. Peregrine Tyss⁠—existed long ago, although only as a thought or consciousness of a shape. Look here; consider attentively the red point in the centre of the table. That is not only yourself, but the point is the form, of which your physical principle once could not be conscious. As a sparkling carbuncle, you then lay in a deep mine of the earth, but stretched over you, on the green surface of the ground, slept the beautiful Gamaheh, and her form also passed away in unconsciousness. Strange lines and foreign constellations cross your life from the point of time when the thought first put on a form, and became Mr. Peregrine Tyss. You are in possession of a talisman without knowing it, and this talisman is that very red carbuncle. It may be that King Sekakis wore it as a precious jewel in his crown, or perhaps⁠—in some measure⁠—was the carbuncle itself. Enough⁠—you possess it now, but a certain event must take place if its slumbering power is to be awakened, and with this waking of the power of your talisman will be decided the fate of an unhappy creature, who hitherto has led a shadowy life between fear and changing hope. Alas! it was only a shadowy life that the sweet Gamaheh could gain by the profoundest magic, as the operative talisman was stolen from us. You alone have killed her, you alone can breathe fresh life into her, when the carbuncle glows again in your breast.”

“And can you,” interrupted Peregrine, “can you explain what that event is which is to awake the power of the talisman?”

The microscopist stared with open eyes at Peregrine, like a person who is suddenly surprised into confusion, and who does not know what to say. The thoughts ran thus: “If I had but held my tongue about the talisman which the unlucky rascal carries within him, and which gives him so much power over us that we must all dance to his pipe! And now I am to tell him the event on which depends the awaking the strength of his talisman! Shall I confess to him that I don’t know myself, that all my art fails to loosen the knot in which the lines meet? Nay, that when I consider the planetary centre of the horoscope, I feel most piteously, and my own learned head seems to me no better than a painted block for periwigs? Far from me be any such confession that would lower me, and put arms into his hands against myself. I will fasten something upon the idiot who fancies himself so wise⁠—something that shall make his blood run cold, and take from him all farther inclination of teasing me.”

“My dearest sir,” said the Flea-tamer, putting on a very important face, “My dearest Mr. Tyss, don’t ask me to speak of this event. You know that the horoscope does indeed plainly and perfectly instruct us as to the existence of certain circumstances, but⁠—such is the wisdom of Eternal Might⁠—the event of threatening dangers always remains dark and doubtful. I esteem you too highly as an excellent kindhearted man to put you into disquiet and anxiety before the time, otherwise I should at least tell you so much: that the event which is to give you the consciousness of power, would in the same moment destroy your present form of being with the most horrible agonies of hell. But no! on that too I will be silent, and now not another word of the horoscope. Do not however fret yourself, although the affair looks bad enough, and I, with all my knowledge, can hardly see any chance of a favourable issue to the adventure. Perhaps you may be saved from this peril by some unexpected constellation which is now beyond the reach of observation.”

Peregrine was astonished at this deceit, yet still the whole state of the thing, the peculiar situation in which Leeuwenhoek stood without suspecting it, appeared to him so exceedingly pleasant, that he could not help breaking out into a loud fit of laughter. The microscopist, somewhat surprised at this, asked, “What are you laughing at so vehemently, my dear Mr. Tyss?”

“You do wisely,” replied Peregrine, still laughing, “You do very wisely in keeping secret, out of pure kindness, this threatening event, for besides that you are too much my friend to put me into fear and terror, you have yet another excellent reason for your silence, which is nothing else than that you do not know a syllable about the matter. In vain was all your labour to unriddle that knot: your whole astrology goes but to little, and if Master Flea had not fallen upon your nose, all your arts would have helped you little.”

Leeuwenhoek’s brow was red with rage; he clenched his fist, gnashed his teeth, and trembled so violently with agitation, that he would have tumbled from his seat, if Peregrine had not held him as firmly by the arm as George Pepusch grasped the unlucky taverner by the throat, who at length succeeded in saving himself by a dexterous side-spring. Hereupon George rushed out and entered Leeuwenhoek’s room just as Peregrine was holding him fast upon his seat, while he muttered furiously between his teeth, “Cursed Swammerdam! is it you that have done this?”

No sooner did Peregrine perceive his friend than he let go of the microscopist, and going up to him, asked anxiously if that strange frenzy were over which had so dangerously possessed him. Pepusch seemed softened almost to tears, and protested that he had not in all his life committed so many follies as in the course of that one day. Amongst these not the least was that after he had sent a ball through his head in the forest, he had gone into a tavern⁠—where he did not know⁠—had talked to people of strange things, and murderously set upon the host, because from his broken speech he gathered that which was the very happiest thing that could befall him. All his paroxysms would now soon have reached the highest pitch, for the bystanders had taken his words for insanity, and he had to fear: instead of reaping the fruit of the happiest event, that he would be confined in a madhouse. With this he explained what the host had let drop concerning Peregrine’s conduct and declarations, and asked, with downcast eyes, whether such an act of self-denial, in favour of an unhappy friend, was probable, or even possible, in the present day, when heroism had vanished from the earth.

At these declarations from his companion Peregrine revived in his inmost heart. He protested with warmth that for his part he was far removed from doing anything that might in the least annoy his tried friend; that he solemnly renounced all pretensions to the heart and hand of the fair Dörtje Elverdink, and willingly gave up a paradise, though it had indeed opened upon him most seductively.

“And it was you,” said Pepusch, rushing into his friend’s arms, “It was you that I would have murdered, and because I did not believe you, I therefore shot myself. Oh, the madness of a mind ill at ease!”

“I pray you,” said Peregrine, “I pray you come to your senses. You speak of having shot yourself, and yet stand fresh and sound before me. How do these things agree?”

“You are right,” replied Pepusch, “it seems as if I could not speak to you so rationally as I really do, if I had actually sent a ball through my brain. The people, too, maintain that my pistols were not particularly dangerous⁠—nor, indeed, of iron, but of wood⁠—in fact mere toys; and so neither the duel nor the suicide could have been anything more than a pleasant mockery. We must have changed our parts, and I have begun to mystify myself and play the child, at the moment you have left the world of dream to enter into real life. But be this as it may; it is requisite that I should be certain of your generosity and my fortune, and then the clouds will dissipate which trouble my sight, or perhaps deceive me with the illusions of the Fata Morgana. Come, my Peregrine, accompany me to the fair Dörtje Elverdink.”

Pepusch took his friend’s arm, and was hastening off with him, but their intended walk was spared, for the door opened, and in tripped Dörtje Elverdink, lovely as an angel, and behind her the old Swammer. Leeuwenhoek, who had so long remained dumb, casting angry looks first at Pepusch and then at Peregrine, seemed, upon seeing the old Swammerdam, as if struck by an electric shock. He stretched his clenched hands towards him, and cried out in a voice hoarse with rage, “Ha! do you come to mock me, you old deceitful monster? But you shall not succeed. Defend yourself: your last hour has struck.”

Swammerdam started a few steps back, and as Leeuwenhoek was ready to fall upon him with his telescope, drew the like arms for his defence. The duel, which had begun at Peregrine’s, seemed about to be renewed. George Pepusch threw himself between the combatants, and while with his left hand he beat down a murderous glance of Leeuwenhoek’s, which would have stretched his adversary to the earth, with the left he turned aside the weapon of Swammerdam, so that he could not injure Leeuwenhoek. He then declared that he would not allow of any battle between them, till he thoroughly knew the cause of their dissension. Peregrine found this protest so reasonable, that he did not hesitate to throw himself between the champions with a similar declaration. To this the combatants were forced to yield. Swammerdam, moreover, asserted that he had not at all come with hostile intentions, but merely to enter into some composition with Leeuwenhoek, and thus to end a feud which had so long divided two similarly-created principles, whose united researches only could exhaust the deepest springs of knowledge. With this he looked smilingly at Peregrine, into whose arms Dörtje had fled, and expressed a wish that he would mediate.

Leeuwenhoek, on the other hand, admitted that Dörtje was indeed the apple of contention, but that he had just now discovered a new trick of his unworthy colleague. It was not only that to revive his unjust pretensions to Dörtje, he denied the possession of a certain microscope which he had received on a certain occasion as a quittance, but the more to torment him⁠—Leeuwenhoek⁠—he had given it to another. In answer to all this, Swammerdam swore, high and low, that he had never received the microscope, and had great reason to believe that Leeuwenhoek had shamefully purloined it.

“The fools!” softly whispered Master Flea to Peregrine, “The fools! they are talking of the microscope which is in your eye. You know that I was present at the treaty of peace concluded between them about the possession of the princess, and, when Swammerdam was flinging into the pupil of his left eye the microscopic glass which he had, in fact, received from Leeuwenhoek, I snapped it up, because it was not Leeuwenhoek’s, but my lawful property. Tell them plainly at once, that you have the jewel.”

Upon this Peregrine made no hesitation in declaring that he was in possession of the microscopic glass which Swammerdam should have received, but did not receive, from Leeuwenhoek, and moreover that the union was not yet settled, and neither Leeuwenhoek nor Swammerdam had at present the unconditional right to look on Dörtje Elverdink as his foster-daughter.

After much argument, it was agreed by the disputants that Mr. Tyss should marry Dörtje Elverdink, who tenderly loved him, and then after seven months, should decide which of the two microscopists was the most desirable father-in-law.

However beautiful Dörtje appeared in a dress so admirable that it might seem to have been fashioned by the Loves, and whatever burning looks of passion she might cast at Peregrine, yet he still thought of his protégé as well as of his friend, and remained true to his plighted word, declaring again that he renounced Dörtje’s hand. The microscopists were not a little astonished when Peregrine announced George Pepusch for the man who had the justest claims to the princess, and that he, at all events, had no right to interfere with her choice.

With tears in her eyes the maiden staggered towards Peregrine, who caught her in his arms as she was sinking senseless to the earth. “Ingrate!” she sighed. “You break my heart in thrusting me from you. But you will have it. Take, then, my parting kiss, and let me die!”

Peregrine bent down to her, but when his mouth touched her mouth, she bit his lips so violently that the blood started, at the same time exclaiming merrily, “Monster! it is so one must punish you! Be reasonable, be civil, and take me, let the other cry out as he will.”

During this the two microscopists had fallen together by the ears again, heaven knows wherefore, while George Pepusch flung himself quite disconsolately at Gamaheh’s feet, and cried out in a voice that sounded wretched enough for any lover⁠—

“Oh, Gamaheh! is then your passion quite extinguished? Do you no more remember the glorious times in Famagusta? no more the pleasant days in Berlin? no more⁠—”

“You are a fool!” interrupted the little one, laughing, “You are a fool, George, with your Gamahehs, your Thistle, Zeherit, and all the other nonsense that you must once have dreamed. I did like you, do like you, and will have you⁠—although the tall one yonder pleases me better⁠—if you solemnly promise, nay swear, to bend all your mind to⁠—”

Here she softly whispered something to Pepusch, and Peregrine thought he collected that Master Flea was the subject of it. In the meantime the dispute between the microscopists had grown hotter and hotter; they had again recourse to their weapons, and Peregrine was busy in trying to sooth their wrath, when the company was again augmented. The door was burst open amidst a strange screaming and croaking, and in rushed the Amateur, Monsieur Legénie, and the barber, Leech. With wild, furious gestures they flew upon the princess, and the barber had already caught her by the shoulder, when Pepusch thrust away the odious assailant with irresistible might, wound about his whole flexible body, and squeezed it together in such a manner that he shot up into the air, quite thin and long, roaring aloud with pain all the time.

While this was going on with the barber, the two microscopists had reconciled themselves in an instant on the appearance of the common enemy, and made a united attack on the Amateur with much success. It availed him nothing that when he was sufficiently drubbed below, he rose up to the ceiling, for Leeuwenhoek and Swammerdam had both seized short thick sticks, and whenever the Amateur descended, they drove him up again by blows, dexterously applied to that part of the body which best can bear them. It was a pretty game of racket, at which the Amateur by compulsion indeed played the most fatiguing⁠—and at the same time the most ungracious⁠—part, namely that of the ball.

This war seemed to inspire the little one with the greatest terror; she clung to Peregrine, and entreated him to bear her away from such an abominable uproar. This he could the less refuse, as there seemed to be no need of him on the field of battle, and he therefore carried her home, that is, into the apartments of his lodger. But no sooner had she got there and found herself alone with Peregrine, than she employed all the arts of the most refined coquetry to allure him into her snares. However firmly he bore in mind that all this was merely falsehood, and aimed at bringing his protégé into captivity, yet such a dizziness of the senses seized him, that he did not even think of the microscopic glass, which might have served him as an active antidote. Master Flea was again in danger; he was, however, saved this time by Mr. Swammer, who entered with George Pepusch. The former appeared to be exceedingly delighted, but the latter had wrath and jealousy in his burning glances. Peregrine left the room, and with wounded heart he strolled through the streets of Frankfurt. He went through the gate and onwards, till he reached the very spot where the strange adventure had happened with his friend, Pepusch. Here he again thought over his wonderful destiny; the image of Gamaheh appeared to him lovelier than ever; the blood rolled more quickly in his veins, his pulse beat more violently, and his breast seemed ready to burst with feverish desire. He felt only too painfully the greatness of the sacrifice which he had just made, and with which he fancied that he had lost all the happiness of life.

The night had drawn in when he returned to the city. Without being aware of it, perhaps from an unconscious dread of going back to his own house, he wandered through many by-lanes, and at last into the Kalbecher-street. A man with a knapsack on his back asked him if the bookbinder, Lemmerhirt, did not live there? and on looking up, Peregrine saw that he was actually standing before the narrow dwelling. The windows of the industrious binder, who worked through the night, were shining brightly and loftily, and the door was opened to the man with a knapsack, who entered immediately.

Peregrine now recollected, with vexation, that, in the tumult of the last few weeks, he had forgotten to pay the bookbinder for several jobs that he had executed for him; he resolved to go and settle all the very next morning.