The Goose Girl (Chapter 5, page 1 of 14)

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Chapter 5

Krumerweg was indeed a crooked way. It formed a dozen elbows and ragged half-circles as it slunk off from the Adlergasse. Streets have character even as humans, and the Krumerweg reminded one of a person who was afraid of being followed. The shadow of the towering bergs lay upon it, and the few stars that peered down through the narrow crevice of rambling gables were small, as if the brilliant planets had neither time nor inclination to watch over such a place. And yet there lived in the Krumerweg many a kind and loyal heart, stricken with poverty. In old times the street had had an evil name, now it possessed only a pitiful one.

It was half after nine when Gretchen and the vintner picked their way over cobbles pitted here and there with mud-holes. They were arm in arm, and they laughed when they stumbled, laughed lightly, as youth always laughs when in love.

"Only a little farther," said Gretchen, for the vintner had never before passed over this way.

"Long as it is and crooked, Heaven knows it is short enough!" He encircled her with his arms and kissed her. "I love you! I love you!" he said.

Gretchen was penetrated with rapture, for her ears, sharp with love and the eternal doubting of man, knew that falsehood could not lurk in such music. This handsome boy loved her. Buffeted as she had been, she could separate the false from the true. Come never so deep a sorrow, there would always be this--he loved her. Her bosom swelled, her heart throbbed, and she breathed in ecstasy the sweet chill air that rushed through the broken street.

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