AFTER LONG YEARS AND OTHER STORIES
AFTER LONG YEARS AND OTHER STORIES
TRANSLATED FROM THE GERMAN SOPHIE A. MILLER AND AGNES M. DUNNE
Produced by Charles Aldarondo Tiffany Vergon Tonya Allen
Charles Franks and the Online Distributed Proofreading Team.
[Illustration: "The Count then opened the door and overcome with emotion
he fell at the feet of the Countess."--From _"Royal Palace to Lowly
_SUNSHINE AND SHADOW SERIES_
AFTER LONG YEARS
TRANSLATIONS FROM THE GERMAN BY
SOPHIE A. MILLER
AGNES M. DUNNE
These ethical stories have been translated from the German with the view
of instilling into the minds of youthful readers such truths as will
help materially toward building a character that will withstand the
trials and temptations of life.
It is conceded by educators that ethics presented in the lecture form
fails of its purpose; therefore the writers have presented this subject
in the form most appealing to children--the story.
I. AFTER LONG YEARS
I. The Journey
III. Alfred Banford
IV. The Stranger
II. THE CAPTIVE
II. The Slave
III. In the Turkish Family
IV. The Lion
V. The Offer
VI. The Plans
VII. Restored to Freedom
III. THE ARTIST'S MASTERPIECE
I. The Gift
II. Under the Emperor's Bush
III. No Prophet in His Own Country
IV. The Condition
V. The Fulfilment
IV. THE VINEYARD ON THE HILLSIDE
II. The Faithful Dog
III. The Fond Foster-Parents
IV. The Errand
V. The Old Man
VI. The Legacy
VII. The Journey
V. THE DAMAGED PICTURE
I. The Artist
II. The Picture
III. The Discovery
VI. MEMORIES AWAKENED
I. The Change of Circumstances
II. The Revelation
VII. THE INHERITANCE
I. Mr. Acton and his Son
II. The Uninvited Guest
III. The Flowering Plant
IV. The Two Families
V. The Feast
VIII. HOW IT HAPPENED
I. The Wooded Island
II. Far From Home
III. The Smoke
IX. FROM ROYAL PALACE TO LOWLY HUT
I. The Suburbs
II. The Retreat
III. The Prison
IV. The Purchase
X. THE UGLY TRINKET
I. The Opened Door
II. The Test
AFTER LONG YEARS
I. THE JOURNEY.
III. ALFRED BANFORD.
IV. THE STRANGER.
[Illustration: "He halted offered his assistance to the two half-frozen
men helped them into the sleigh and hurried on with them."]
AFTER LONG YEARS
The Duchess of Banford and her two children were driving toward their
villa when owing to the roughness of the road the front wheel of
their coach was suddenly broken. Considerably frightened mother and
children quickly alighted. The approaching darkness coupled with the
loneliness of the place added to the difficulty; for the prospect of
spending the night in the woods was particularly distressing.
Just then a stable-boy chanced along and seeing the predicament said:
"Oh that wheel can be easily mended. Not far from here there lives a
wheelwright and I am sure he can repair it in a very short time." The
boy then looked about him and seeing a long pole said: "We can use
this to support the wagon as it drags along. The road is rugged and it
will take us about an hour to get there."
"Is there no shorter route?" inquired the Duchess.
"This is the only wagon road; but if you wish I will lead you along a
shorter path across the fields which will cut the distance in half."
The Duchess thanked him and asked: "Do you think that we may take this
pole? It seems to me as though some wood-cutter had left it here to prop
"Oh yes" he answered "it belongs to the wheelwright to whom I am
taking you. All the wood around here belongs to him and he will be glad
to have this pole so handy." So saying he hurried to get the pole and
helped the coachman fasten it in place. The horses then drew the
carriage slowly over the rocky road while the coachman walked
The family however followed the footpath which led between tall elms
and blooming shrubbery along the edge of a babbling brook.
The silence was broken now and then by the plaintive song of a
nightingale. The Duchess and her two children seated themselves upon the
trunk of a fallen tree and listened to the music till it ceased. A
gentle wind sighed softly through the leaves of the trees and merrily
flowed the near-by brook. As the nightingale repeated its song they all
When the song was ended the Duchess said: "I would give twenty pounds
if I had such a bird in my garden. I have heard many nightingales sing
in the city but here in the country in this wooded region and deep
stillness and at this twilight hour its song seems doubly enchanting.
Oh that I might hear it sing in the little bower near my villa."
"Hm" whispered the stable-boy who stood near her oldest son Alfred
"those twenty pounds could be easily earned."
Alfred nodded and motioned to the boy to be still for just then the
nightingale began to sing. When the song ceased the Duchess arose to
continue her way. Alfred however lagged behind with the stable-boy
with whom he was soon busily engaged in earnest talk.
"A nightingale in a cage is not what my mother wants; what she wants is
a nightingale that is at liberty to sing and nest and fly as it pleases
in our beautiful garden and to return to us in the spring from its
"I understand very well what you mean. I should not want to catch a bird
and deliver it into captivity." After questioning Alfred more closely
about the trees near his villa the boy said: "I feel sure that I can
get a nightingale and its nest for you. I know just how to go about it.
You will soon hear its song resound from all parts of your garden--
possibly not this week but surely next."
Alfred stood still for a moment and looked at the boy--clothed in a
shabby suit with his hair protruding from his torn hat. Then he asked
wonderingly "What would you do with the money?"
"Oh" said the boy and the tears stood in his eyes "twenty pounds
would help us out of our troubles. You see my father is a day-laborer.
He is not a very strong man and I was just on my way to visit him and
do what I could to help him. My foreman has given me a few days' leave
of absence. I don't earn much but it helps my father a little. I often
feel that it would be a great help to him if I could earn more. I
certainly should like nothing better than to be a wheelwright. It must
be grand to be able to take the wood that lies here in the forest and
make a beautiful carriage out of it like the one you own. I have often
talked with the wheelwright but he will not take me as an apprentice
until I have a certain amount of money. Besides I should need money to
buy tools. It would cost twenty pounds and my father and I haven't as
much as that together.
"Poor boy" thought Alfred "if what he says is true we must help him."
Then he said aloud "Bring me a written recommendation from your
schoolmaster; and if the wheelwright really wants to take you I will
give you ten pounds as soon as the nightingale sings in our garden; and I
know that the missing ten pounds will soon be forthcoming. But you must
say nothing about this to anyone until my mother's wish is gratified. I
should like to give her an unexpected pleasure."
Soon they struck the main road again and the rest of the distance was
While the wheelwright was repairing the carriage Alfred engaged him in
conversation concerning the stable-boy all of whose statements the man
corroborated. He also showed a willingness to apprentice the boy on the
The damage had now been repaired so the Duchess paid the charges
giving the stable-boy a few coins and seated herself in the carriage
with her children.
After whispering a few words to the boy to tell him how to reach the
villa Alfred joined his mother and sister and with tooting of horns
they proceeded on their journey in high spirits.
The little stable-boy Michael Warden hurried on to his sick father. It
was late and the journey would take him two hours. On his way he
stopped to buy a few delicacies for his father with the coins the
Duchess had given him. To his surprise he found on arrival that his
father was very much improved.
Before daybreak on the following morning Michael hurried to the woods
to find the nightingale's nest he knew so well. When he had last visited
it he had seen five brownish-green eggs there. But as he now peered
into it he found to his great astonishment that the young birds had
broken through their shells. With all haste he set out for the villa
several miles distant to study the situation and decide where he could
best fasten the nest. Arriving there he found a suitable place and
then hurried back to the woods.
In the course of a few days he succeeded in caging the parent birds.
Placing the nest beside them in the cage he carried it to the garden of
the Duchess. He arrived there toward evening and was hospitably
received by the gardener who had been fully acquainted with the idea.
Adjoining the villa was a large tract of land well wooded which was
beautifully laid out with garden plots pebbly shaded paths
vine-covered bowers and rustic seats. In one corner of the garden there
stood an odd little thatch-covered arbor nestling between high rocks in
the shadow of the tall trees. A brook which fell in foaming whiteness
flowed past this little nook clear as crystal and made the stillness
fascinating by its intermittent murmuring. This spot the Duchess loved
well and many hours of the day she spent here.
Scarcely a hundred feet distant there stood a willow tree closely
resembling the late home of the caged nightingales. The boy had chosen
this tree and had prepared a place for the nest on a forked branch. He
went there late one evening as the moon was shining brightly and
placed the nest securely on this tree; then he gave the parent birds
The next morning the boy returned to the spot and hid himself in the
thick shrubbery to see whether the birds would feed their young who
were loudly crying for food. In a little while the parent birds returned
and fed them.
"Now I have triumphed" said Michael; and he hurried to the villa to
carry to Alfred the welcome news that in a few days the nightingales
would be singing their song in his garden.
"Fine" said Alfred "and then the money will be yours. Stay a few days
longer and you can take it with you."
Two days later the Duchess invited her friends to a lawn-party. The sun
had risen in all its glory the sky was unclouded and the breezes were
light and refreshing. The garden with all its natural beauty afforded
a most entrancing spot for the feast which proved perfect in every
detail and was enjoyed in full measure.
After the guests had departed the Duchess said to her children "Let us
spend this delightful twilight hour here in quiet. My soul is satisfied;
for what can compare with this blessed evening hour? What comparison can
there be between the grandeur of our salon and the beauty of nature?"
Just then the nightingale broke the stillness with its ecstatic song.
The Duchess was surprised and listened intently until the song was
"I wonder how this nightingale came to my garden. The oldest residents
cannot remember ever having heard one in this region."
"Dear mother" said Alfred "you often wished that a nightingale would
lend its song and its presence to grace this beautiful spot. The same
boy who assisted us out of a difficulty recently helped me gratify your
wish. You remember dear mother that you said at that time: 'I would
give twenty pounds to have a nightingale in my garden.' That boy has
helped us please you and we have paid him half this amount out of our
savings. The boy is worthy of the money and it may be the foundation of
his future success."
"You have acted nobly" said the Duchess. "I am transported with ecstasy
at hearing the nightingale sing for the first time in my garden and
also at the love which you have shown for your mother. It moves me still
more however when I think that my children possess a heart big enough
to part with money intended for their own use and voluntarily give it
up to afford help and joy to others. I too will reward the boy
generously. I wonder what use he would make of the money."
"We could not give the money to a more worthy person" said Alfred who
then related to his mother the boy's aspirations. "Besides I have
written to his teacher and this is what he says about him: 'A greater
deed of charity you could not perform than to help Michael Warden carry
out his desire to learn a trade. He is a clever ingenious boy and
would learn quickly. I think he would like best to be a wheelwright and
I would suggest that you apprentice him with the master in our village.'
So you see mother the money would not be spent in vain."
"Very well the money shall be his."
On the following morning Alfred sent for Michael and counted out to
him the money increasing it to fifty pounds. Michael's astonishment
almost carried him off his feet and he thanked Alfred profusely for the
extra money. He hurried home to his father and laid his wealth before
him on the table. The old man stared at it in blank amazement and said:
"My boy I hope you have not stolen this money!"
"No father but a little bird in the forest helped me" and Michael
related the incident.
His father overjoyed now made all preparations for Michael's outfit.
He then conducted him to the master wheelwright paid the stipulated sum
and entered him as an apprentice. At the end of three years the boy was
as accomplished in his trade as his master.
Before starting out into the world Michael returned to the Castle of
Banford to tell of his progress and once more thank the Duchess and her
children for their kindness to him. They praised him heartily for the
strides he had made. The Duchess then gave him another gift of money for
his journey and said: "Success be yours. We must never do good by
halves; the sapling that we plant we should also water." Then with many