Chapter 106235725

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Chapter NumberI
Chapter Title
Chapter Url
Full Date1869-12-25
Page Number1
Word Count2133
Last Corrected0000-00-00
Newspaper TitleThe Herald (Fremantle, WA : 1867 - 1886)
Trove TitleA Bet and Its Consequences
article text

ST-HE STORY-TELLER. I A BE'T AND ITS CONSEQUENCES. T -tqne of.the largest towns of Northern pigaz·ny,. sa?ne young men, who had just finished an excellent dinner, a little tahle drink g coffee and smoking cigars. •i'ith1. two of lem.we shall form an ac l quaintance. Karl Herder was the richest banker in the town, and was dining to ?.ay with his friend, Louis Volkmar, at tlie best hotel in the town. Louis, who ja as:,the cousin 'of the lqndlord of the lo~ el; was posse.?ed of considerable pro lperty, an orphan, and unmarrid, He rivaribly dined at the lgtel, although he'had one of ?e, largest hoqses in the 4"??wn. !The conversation turnee4 gn yvrious ?? , and at last one of thp party be talk of the suimptuous dinler of which they had ji`st partaken,' and added, "' It would be jolly if one po.ild have such l dinner every day.:' . tHe looked at Louis while he was speak-. ing, and the young man instantly re plied, f' I care nothing foqr such a dinner; it is only my relationship with t?he land loid that induces nie tq cqme here every day.' • Karl Herder laughed. i! Who is gging ol believe that ?" said he. '" impercep tibtly, one gets used tq gqod living.' " And you doubt my word ?' replied his friend. " I feel' sure I coqu4 live like a labourery,'wihout the change costing .me a thought. 1 do not .elqng to those who live to eat---who consider a hixuri ous meal the highest object in life. I despise and shun epicures. Karl laughed again, and said his friend had made too great a leap from the table d'h6te of the Russian Hotel to the scanty fare of the poor labourer- from the appreciation of a good table to the fastidious epicure, whose highest qk ject in life is eating. A smile of sarcasm played on the lips of Karl when he was speaking, which Louis, who was extremely sensitive, did pot pass unnoticed. 5' I am prepared," he replied, '? to share the.dry bread and cup qf coffee with the poor labourer." "But," said Karl, ' a4 putbur~t of feeling is not action." ' True," said the other; but I .am prp pared to show it." "Where ?"" said Karl. ?' Will ypu stake upon it ?" " By all means," replied Louis. f. .?t remember, Karl, it. is one thing to eat the dry bread of poverty here at th, pumptuous table of the Russian Hotel, in pleasant company,; and inhaling the odour pf the delicious viands, and another thing to eat dry bread in an obscure corner of your own house, with nothing to tempt you."

".Dear Herder, you are too bad," cried the other three young .men in.. a breath. " Take care that evil consequences do no ensure from this dispute." .. Their fears were -groundless.. ?Louis was of too mild a nature to allow such a matter to cause a quarrel, and Karl " a-di 2o intention to raise one. He.laughed heartily. "I will venture a hundred Friedrichs l'or that you can't, do it," said he. « Stop!" cried Louis. " What time do you name ?" " In the whole month of June, which hegins to-morrow." ".Done," said Louis; and he sent for his cousin.. SCousin," said he, when the land lord appeared, "I have just accepted a bet of one kundred Fredericks d'or, and you must be witness. Will you bring writing materials ?" The 1yoit brought them. " Now, cousin, sit down, and write what I dictate." SHe sat down, and Louis dictated the following : " To-day, the thirty-first of May, 1859, in the presence of the witnesses, Fried rich Schindel, Wilhelm Seine, Johann Hoffman, and the landlord of the Russian Hotel, Martin Schmid, the following bet is made between Karl Herder and Louis Volkmar ; "First: Louis Volkmar undertakes, from the first day of the month of June, antil the last day of the same nronth, and at the table of the Russian Hotel, in the presence of all the company, sitting in his usual place, to eat nothing bit dry black bread----." '' Stop !" cried Karl. "No; black bread is too hard. That is sharpening the bet, which was only a joke." " No," replied Louis. " Mention was made of the bread of the poorest laborer. He never eats white bread. It must be so, and you must say nothing to the con trary." Karl bowed assent. " If you will have it so," he said, " then it must be; but I solemnly declare I do not wish the cqu ditions to be so hard." " Go on, cousin," said Louis; " only Sblack bread the same as the laborers use. " Secondly: For supper, same as No. 1 "Thirdly: For .breakfa.t, Qnly one cup of coffee." " No !" cried Karl, ' that i- too bad. You shall drink as much as you choose." - "That is my stipulation," said Louis, " only one." ",Then I must be silent against my .will," said Karl. " Go on, cousin," continued Louis. "And he gives his solemn declaration that he will eat nothing before, between, oi after these meals ; and, in order to in sure certainty, Louis Volkmar will liye entirely at the hotel; and he not only in vites the landlord to keep a strict surveil lance over him, and to provide the coars est black bread, but he invites the three witnesses and his bet-partner tq share his Spartan meal." All the four rose together, and thanked him for his kind invitation, but rernarlke4 that they had no wisl? to cut shqrt his .upply. Go on, cousin," he continued, i? and write." " On the other hand, the bet-partner, Karl Herder, promises to pay to Louis Vollunar, if the conditions are fully car ried out, one hundred Fiiedrichs d'or, on the 1st day of July, 1859. Should the ponditions be violated, Louis Volkmar will pay to Karl Herder, on the same play, one hundred Friedridhs d'or in gold~ ." In witness therefore, here follow the pignatures -of the betters and the wit F -

." Ndow,.cousin, read the document .dis tinctly;" said Louis. The'landlord obeyed, and the witnesses signed it; after: which' the fiwv young men: went away; in the best possible hu mour to.enjoy a stroll in the beautiful envirbfs of the town.. At eight o'clock next morning an im mense number of young people and idlers of all classes crowded the breakfast-room; for the :witnesses, upon whonimsecrecy had not been enjoined, had spread the news far and wide. The host was delighted. He saw' that the bet was likely to be more profitable to him than to either of the betters. The tables were full when Louis, pe litely bowing, entered the room, and took his usual place at' the end of the long table. Before him lay ,some black bread. He smiled when he saw it; took a knife, and cut off the end of the loaf, which he put back. i the "l . ThA host brought a cup of coffee ; Louis drank it and ate the black bread, assuring his friends that if the bread always tasted as sweet he wold return no more to the coffee biscuits. As those who breakfasted with him had only come that they mniight have some thing to talk about in the course of the morning, the bet and its conditions, the position of Louis, and his motives; be came the theme of all the coffee-house frequenters and of the idlers in the town. Even in private houses the subject was discussed; for the betters were men who were well known to the best families in the town, and much admired for their sociable qualities, particularly by mothers 4nd their daughters. What indeed could be Louis's motive ? To gain notoriety ? Such questions were in everybody's mouth.

At dinner the table was again full, and the witnesses were there with Karl. All eyes were turned to the seat where the black bread, the remainder of the morning's portion, was lying. At last the long-wished-for bell was rung, and Louis made his appearance. When the soup was passed round, he cut off a thick slice from the black bread and began to appease his hunger. The strangers opened wide their eyes when they saw a guest at a sumptuous dinner, exercise the abstemiousness of a penitent, but they did not long remain in ignorance. The host saw with delight that more covers and tables were required, and he took csae to have the latter placed so that every person present might be able to sep the hero. The overflow of guests, however, only lasted eight days; then the number de creased. In large towns novelty attracts, bnt it does not last long. The wonder of to-day gives place to the wonder of to morrow. Qnly for the strangers and the betters the black bread kept up its in tei?st Jiouis Yolkmar held with chival ro.s honqur and manly perseverance to tIe e?uiditions of the bet. He had suffi cient self-control tq withstand the temp tations of the delicious food, and when his- cousin placed before M o6 oii F~e Tsii favourite dishes, he said, smiling, " Thou shalt not lead thy neighour into tempta tion." He appeared fresher and healthier than ever; his spirits seemed better; and when his friends inquired about his health, he :replied, ." I have never before been so well as I have been since I began to e it my peqauce food, 4lthough I am not even permitted to eat fsh, which ac cording to cloister rgle is neither flesh nor yowl. What appears to others so hard, is to me the easiest thing possible. It Q941d be no hardship to me if I were al?gys obliged to live on the fare which keeps thousands healthy and happy." But now with the last day of the month came the conjecture, ' l@t will Louis do with the gold, he who is so rich ! Now he will show tghether gain was his motive."

The bet again became the topic of con versation; and on the last day the table-d' hdte was crowded. Louis had sent an invitation to larl and the witnesses, and had gone himself to the President of the Poor Relief Association, and invited him to dinner. 4fter dinner Louis rose, and said, that the month being end, he wished the witnesses to say whether the conditions of the bet had been fully com plied with. ," Entirely, and in the most noble man ner," replied Karl, the witnesses bowing. Karl then laid two rolls on the table, which contained the hundred Fried richs d'or. "Gentlemen," said Louis, .? as the bet sprang out of a joke, and as I do not re quire the money, I give it over to the president who has charge of the poor, and who has done me the honor to accept my invitation to dine here to-day." "Health to the brave Volkmar !" cried Karl Herder, and all present chinked their glasses a4d echoed the toast. "I thank you for the unmerited honour," said Louis, seriously, '. but you have interrupted me. I was about to say that the bet has had for me another and a far higher gain. I have learnt to con quer prejudice and to exercise moral courage; and, above all, I have learnt to sympathize with the labouring poor. This genltlemen, determines me to lay this hundred Friederichs d'or - " Again the cheer broke out. "I beg silence, gentlemen," he cried "I give," he continued, '" two hundred Frie4rich§ d'or to pay the rents of the poor who have suffered so much from the hleightened rental. I beg the presi de?4 to apply it to their use; for, during my time of fasting, I have indeed learnt to feel for my fellow-men." The president took the money, and thanked him heartily; then, raising his glass with enthusiasm, he proposed his health again, the response to which seemed never-ending. And for eight days more this gift was the theme of dis course, and Louis Volkmar was the hero of the hour. But the overflowing of a river turned the current of the people's thoughts, and Volkmar's name passed into another circle, to be blessed by those cares and sorrows he had alleviated. (To be continued.) Why is an offering like a matrimonial engagement ?--ecause it begins with an offer and ends with a ring. A very ugly and penurious man works in his own field in the Summer months to saye the. service of a scarecrow,