The Bench


Nicolai noted the comings and goings of the troop of young girls but usually paid little mind. However there came a day when one of the girls taking the course had to leave and go home suddenly because her mother was critically ill in a distant village. Anna asked Nicolai to harness his fastest horse and take Lenchen home in his wagon. Nicolai of course obeyed his mother and Nicholai and Lenchen set off unattended.

It is not known where or when or why or how but Nicolai fell madly in love with Lenchen. However Anna later did admit that Lenchen was perhaps the most beautiful girl she had ever had the pleasure to teach in her sewing class.

But for the present, Nicolai kept his love for Lenchen to himself. Lenchen came back to finish her sewing class, but Anna was not aware of what was going on. Surreptitiously Nicholai and Lenchen met in the family orchard after dark and pledged their undying love for each other. For both it was their first love and nothing could be more pure and innocent.

As expected, the sewing course did come to a close and Lenchen knew she would have to return to her village the next day. It would be their last night together. But Nicolai had become careless and absentminded. Anna did not know what to make of him. She puzzled about what could be going on with her dear eldest son. When after supper he again announced that he was going for a walk, Anna donned her shawl and followed him at a distance.

Not too long after, she surprised them on a bench in the orchard, in each other’s arms. It was a difficult moment for everyone.

“Leave Lenchen alone,” she stormed. “Come home immediately. I want to talk to you.”

Once back in the house Anna commanded Nicolai to join her in the front room and shut the door. She told her maid no one was to enter. There was no denying Anna’s rage.

“What were you doing with Lenchen?” she demanded.

“Mother, we are in love. I have done nothing to Lenchen.”

“What did I witness just a few minutes ago?”

“We held each other close and embraced each other. Lenchen is going home tomorrow. It will be our last night together.”

“But what is your plan?”

“We are in love. I want to marry Lenchen.”

“Without asking me?”

“Mother, I am old enough to make my own decisions. I want to marry Lenchen.”

“No. You will not. You cannot. You do not have my permission. I say No. Lenchen is poor. Her parents have no “Wirtschaft” (farm). They have no property. She will never inherit a farm. That is why she is taking the sewing course. She will have to be a seamstress all her life to make a living. Don’t you see that?”

“But I will have a farm. It doesn’t matter.”

“Yes it does. I won’t have it. I will not allow you to marry Lenchen. And that’s final.”

With those last words Anna paced furiously out of the room and slammed the door.

Lenchen was never discussed again.

Nicolai pined away his waking time throughout summer and fall thinking about Lenchen. He was certainly of marriageable age, having passed his 19th birthday in June. But he had no inclination to make any progress towards matrimony after Anna forbade him to see Lenchen.

MORE pages to follow: click the page numbers below!
Ed Janzen is the editor and publisher of CANADIAN STORIES, a literary folk magazine that publishes short stories and poems from Canadian writers of every province of Canada. Story Quilt is an electronic magazine similar in content. Ed has written four memoirs. He also writes for the old car hobby and has a column in OLD AUTOS - a biweekly newspaper featuring mostly Canadians events and automotive history.
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