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Feldheimer is as likely to become a prophetess as a goose a swan. She told our father that one would be able to buy a good part of his inheritance for a florin; that is to say, he would become very poor, and yet at his death all the land that could be seen from the turret of the Castle of Zollern belonged to him. Go away! Frau Feldheimer is nothing but a silly old woman, and you, the Stupid Cuno."
After these words the little one ran off quickly, for he feared his brother's powerful arm; and Wolf followed him, uttering all the oaths which he had picked up from his father.
Deeply hurt in his inmost soul, Cuno returned homewards, for he now saw clearly that his brothers would never more be reconciled to him. He took their harsh words so much to heart, that he fell very ill on the following day, and only the consolations of the pious Father Joseph, and the strengthening little potions of Frau Feldheimer saved him from death.
But when his brothers heard that their brother Cuno was dangerously ill they held a merry banquet; and, flushed with wine, promised each other that when the Stupid Cuno should die, he who learned it first was to fire off all the guns to inform the other of it, and he who fired first was to have beforehand the best cask of wine in Cuno's cellar. From this time Wolf always kept a servant watching in the vicinity of the Castle of Hirschberg, and Little Rogue even bribed one of Cuno's servants with a great deal of money to let him know at once when his master lay at the point of death.
This servant, however, was more attached to his gentle and pious master than to the wicked Count of Schalksberg. One evening he asked Frau Feldheimer in a sympathising manner about the condition of his master, and on her telling him that he had almost recovered, he told her the plan of the two brothers, that they intended firing salvoes at Count Cuno's death. She was greatly incensed at this, and speedily reported it to the Count; but as he would not believe such a great want of love in his brothers, she advised him to make a trial and spread a rumour that he was dead, for then it would soon be heard whether they would cannonade or not. The
Count sent for the servant whom his brother had bribed, questioned him again, and ordered him to ride to the Castle of Schalksberg to announce his approaching end.
While the servant was hastily riding down the hill of Hirschberg, Count Wolf of Zollern's servant saw him, stopped him, and asked where he was riding in such haste. "Alas!" said he, "my poor master will not outlive this night, they have all despaired of him."
"Indeed! Is that what is going to happen?" he exclaimed, running to his horse and swinging himself upon it, galloping so quickly up the hill of the Castle of Zollern that his horse fell down at the gate, and he himself was only just able to call out, "Count Cuno is dying!" before he fainted. Thereupon the cannons thundered from the Castle of Hohen Zollern. Count Wolf and his mother were delighted at the excellent cask of wine, the inheritance, the pond, the jewels, and the powerful echo which his cannons gave. But what he had taken to be the echo, were the cannons from the Castle of Schalksberg, and Wolf, smiling, said to his mother:
"So the little one has also had a spy, and we shall have to divide the wine in equal shares just as the rest of the inheritance."
He then got on horseback, for he suspected Little Rogue might forestall him by arriving there first, and perhaps take away some of the valuables of the deceased before he came.
The two brothers, however, met at the fish pond, and blushed on facing each other, for each had intended to reach the Castle of Hirschberg first. They did not say a word about Cuno, as they rode on, but held a brotherly council, what arrangement they should make for the future, and to whom the Castle of Hirschberg should belong. But as they rode across the drawbridge and entered the courtyard, they saw their brother looking out of the window hale and hearty; but wrath and indignation inflamed his countenance. His brothers were very much frightened at seeing him, and crossed themselves, for they thought at first he was a ghost; but when they saw he was still flesh and blood, Wolf exclaimed, Well, I declare, how strange! Nonsense! I thought you were dead."
Well, forbearance is no acquittance," said the little one, looking fiercely at his brother.
Cuno, however, said with a thundering voice: “From this hour all ties of relationship are broken between us. I heard plainly enough your salvoes: but look out, there are five field-pieces in my courtyard, and I have ordered them to be well loaded in honour of you. Make haste and get beyond the reach of my bullets, or you may be taught how we fire at the Castle of Hirschberg."
There was no necessity for them to be told twice, for they could see by his looks that he was in earnest; they spurred their horses and raced down the hill, while their brother sent a cannon-ball after them, whizzing over their heads, so that both together made a deep and polite bow; but he only wished to frighten them, and not wound them. Why did you fire?" asked Little Rogue angrily. "You fool! I only fired because I heard you firing."
"If you do not believe me, go and ask mother!" replied Wolf; "it was you who fired first, and have brought this disgrace on us, Little Badger."
The little one was not slow in lavishing his choice epithets upon him, and when they had come to the fishpond, they treated each other to the oaths they had learned from old Thunder-Storm von Zollern, and parted in hatred and anger.
On the following day, however, Cuno made his will, and Frau Feldheimer said to Father Joseph: "I would lay a wager he has not left much to the shooters." But curious though she was, and often as she coaxed her pet to tell her what he had written in the will, she never knew its contents; for a year later the good woman died. Her ointments and potions were of no use to her; she died in her ninety-eighth year, of no illness, but simply of old age, for that, too, at last brings a hale person to the grave. Count Cuno had her buried, not like a poor woman, but as if she had been his mother, and his castle became more lonely to him, especially as Father Joseph soon after followed Frau Feldheimer.
This loneliness, however, he did not feel very long; good Cuno died as early as his twenty-eighth year, poisoned, so some wicked people maintained, by Little Rogue.
Be that as it may, some hours after his death the thunder of the cannons again echoed, and from the castles of Zollern and Schalksberg twenty-five rounds were fired. "There is no mistake about it this time," said Rogue, when they met on the way to the castle.
"Yes," said Wolf, "and if he rises again, and mocks us at the window as he did before, I have a pistol with me which will make him polite and quiet.'
As they rode up the hill of the castle, they were joined by a horseman and his suite, whom they did not know. They thought he might be a friend of their brother, who had come to be present at the funeral. They therefore assumed a sorrowful look, spoke loud in praise of the deceased, lamented his early departure, and Little Rogue even shed a few crocodile tears. The knight, however, gave no answer to it, but rode quietly and silently by their side the hill to the Castle of Hirschberg. up • Now we will make ourselves comfortable," cried Wolf, dismounting. "Bring us some of the best wine, butler!" They went up the spiral staircase and entered the hall, whither the mute rider also followed them; and after the twins had seated themselves quite comfortably at the table, he pulled out of his jacket a piece of silver, and throwing it upon the stone table so that it rolled about and jingled, he said: "Well, there is your inheritance, and the exact amount-a florin." The two brothers looked at each other in surprise, laughed, and asked what he meant by it.
The knight then produced a roll of parchment with numerous seals, in which the stupid Cuno had noted all the acts of enmity which his brothers had shown him in his lifetime; and at the end he had willed and decreed that his whole inheritance, goods and chattels, with the exception of his late mother's jewels, in case of his death were to be sold to Würtemberg, and that for a paltry florin! With the proceeds of the jewels, however, a house for the poor was to be built in the town of Balingen.
The brothers were startled again, but did not laugh this time; they gnashed their teeth, for they could do nothing against Würtemberg. And thus they had lost the beautiful estate, forest, and field, the town of Balingen, and even the fish-pond, and inherited nothing but a
miserable florin. This Wolf put haughtily into his jacket, and without saying a word, he threw his barret cap on his head, passed the commissioner of Würtemberg in a defiant manner, and without saluting him, jumped on his horse and rode to his Castle of Zollern.
But when, on the following morning his mother taunted him with reproaches that they had lost the estate and jewels through their joking, he rode over to Rogue to the Castle of Schalksberg: "Shall we spend our inheritance in gambling or drinking?" he asked him.
"To spend it in drinking is better," said Rogue, "for then both of us will profit by it. Let us ride to Balingen, and show ourselves there in defiance of the people, although we have shamefully lost the little town.'
"At the Lamb Inn they sell red wine, an emperor does not drink better," added Wolf.
So they rode together to the Lamb Inn at Balingen, ordered a quart of red wine, and drank each other's health until the florin was spent. Wolf then got up, and pulling out of his jacket the silver piece with a bounding stag on it, threw it upon the table and said: "There is your florin, I dare say that is the amount."
The innkeeper took up the florin, and looking on both sides of it said with a smile: "Yes, but this is no longer worth a florin, for last night a messenger came from Stuttgart, and this morning it has been published by beat of drum in the name of the Count of Würtemberg, to whom the little town of Balingen now belongs, that those florins are now depreciated, so I must ask you to pay me in other coin.
The two brothers looked at each other, turning pale. "Pay up," said one of them. "Have you no change?" said the other; and in short they were obliged to owe the florin at the Lamb Inn in Balingen. They returned home quiet and thoughtful; but when they came to the cross roads, where the way to the right led to Zollern and to the left to Schalksberg, Rogue said: "Well now! We have inherited indeed less than nothing, and in addition to this the wine was bad."
Yes, indeed," replied his brother. "But what Frau Feldheimer prophesied has come true after all; we