- 44 -
in short I mended daily until - may God be thanked for it always, and my skilful doctor too - after several weeks more I was on my feet again.
But the human beast under our roof, whose presence we had to endure, was now more than ever unbearable to me. Upon me and all my brothers and sisters she continually heaped the most obscene curses. During my illness she often said to my face that I was a sulky little bastard, that there was nothing wrong with me, they should give me a whipping instead of medicine, and so on. I asked my father, as earnestly as I could, to get this creature off our hands, otherwise I should never again be in perfect health. But the thing was impossible, chiefly because no-one else wanted to take her in. Whenever she behaved too badly we had her flogged, as I said before, but in the end no-one would perform even this service for us, for all feared her like the Evil One. It was to some extent easiest to deal with her by kind words. What was to me the sorest trial was that I and my brothers and sisters had to spend the evenings in her company, carding and spinning cotton. As soon as the summer drew on, I so arranged matters that I did my work outside the house, whenever the weather allowed it.
28. A day-labourer now:
22. For alas, grown children bring great cares! Our household is overburdened. I have no property - none of you can yet be sure of earning your own living. You are the eldest. What will you do now? Lolling about the house and fiddling with cotton does not suit you, I can well see. You must go out to work and earn wages". "As you wish, father!" I replied. "Yes, anything but sitting by the fire!" So we were soon agreed. Bailiff K., a farmer on the castle estate, hired me as a labourer. The illness from which I had recovered had left me somewhat weakened, but my master, a prudent man and always good-humoured, was very patient with me, the more so as he had lads of his own like me. Most of the time he had to be away on business, then things often fell into a fine state of confusion. On the other hand, he paid me starvation wages, and his wife often let us fast until ten o'clock. But if the work was particularly hard we always had better victuals. From time to time we brought him some game, a bird or fish, that made an excellent meal for him. [...]
At this time too my brother Jakob entered upon similar work as a labourer. The younger ones, however, had to spin when they were not in school. Georg in particular was a merry young scapegrace. When you thought he was at his little spinning-wheel he would be sitting up in a tree, or on the roof, and calling "Cuckoo!" - "You idle good-for-nothing!" my mother would say, when she caught sight of him perched thus on high, and his reply; "I'll come if you won't beat me, otherwise I'll climb up into the sky!". What to do? One could only laugh at the little rogue.
29. What, dreaming of love already?
23, I saw her every Sunday. Every time I felt a little pang in my heart. Again, I knew not why, but I think it was just because I thought her so pretty, certainly no other reason ever entered my head. On Sunday evenings, as I said, we - for there were a number of us young people - met together for country dancing and games like hunt-the-slipper. I was as if transported to a new world, no longer the hermit I had been at Dreyschlatt. Now I had indeed observed that Ännchen did not dislike my company, but I thought that she would already have a suitor. One day, however, my mother was
Böning, in his biography deduces from this that Bräker's father did not love him, but this is a harsh judgement. His father may have dreaded that his son would live but be unfit for work.
Her name was Anna Lüthold and she came from Horgen on the Lake of Zürich. (Voellmy).