The Bench

Helena Reimer

In the meantime Anna heard news of a Wirtschaft coming available in Lindenau. The owner, a Mr. Reimer, had died and left no male heir. Indeed, the person in line for the property was an unmarried woman, Helena Reimer, who was exactly Nicolai’s age plus one month! What a coincidence. Moreover the property next door to the Reimers was vacant and could easily be added to become a double Wirtschaft with the Reimer farm as the primary property. What an opportunity.

Anna immediately saw a plan and hastened secretly to make contact with Mrs. Reimer, Helena’s mother. She sent a messenger to Lindenau and a meeting was arranged. Anna cleverly asked Nicolai to be the chauffeur and he innocently consented to make the trip. He loved excursions into the countryside with his grand steeds and this day was no exception. Anna did not have to remind him to take his prize horses and the finest wagon the family owned. The conveyance was at the ready in no time. Off they went.

Anna kept up a pleasant chatter about the fine sunny day and the beautiful fields they would be soon harvesting. She told Nicolai about her grand plan to get the family photographed the next time the Russian professional came by. She also talked of the beautiful samovars the gypsies carried when they peddled their wares throughout the village. Anna raved about the beautiful lace tablecloths she saw given as gifts at weddings but Nicolai never said a word. He was enjoying driving his horses and piloting his prestigious wagon on the road north, knowing that this conveyance was the best in the village.

At the Reimers the hired hands unhitched the horses for a drink of water and a rub down with brush and comb. Nicolai relaxed on a garden bench and surveyed the village activity as it passed him by.

‘Nice place,’ he thought.

Anna introduced herself to Mrs. Reimer and they sequestered themselves inside the inner reaches of the big house. Each knew why the other was there and serious discussions followed. Before going in, however, Mrs. Reimer did notice the young man who was Mrs. Janzen’s son. Serious and quiet. Good-looking too.

‘He’ll make an excellent husband,’ she decided.

The Reimer Wirtschaft seemed a bit run down, Nicholai thought, at least in comparison to his step-father’s in Muensterberg. However, there were many small children running around the village square.

‘Must be a settlement of freshly married couples with lots of young ones,’ Nicholai assumed.

There was also a new village assembly building being built, but here again the work seemed to have stalled. Nicholai caught himself musing about what it would be like to start farming a Wirtschaft on his own here in Lindenau and perhaps volunteering to finish construction of the assembly building in the village square.

Anna emerged from the house.

“Let’s go,” she stated and the men brought the horses.

On the way home Nicholai lost himself in the beautiful evening and the marvelous sunset to the west.

“The dates are all set,” Anna began.

But Nicholai said nothing. Either he didn’t hear or didn’t pay attention.

“We’ll have to contact the photographer.”

Once they were home again, the days kept turning over. Anna was all atwitter about something, and the girls knew. But the boys were preoccupied outside. They hardly noticed.

Finally at supper time, when everyone was finished with another good meal, Anna proudly called for quiet in the room.

“Sunday after church we will all go to Lindenau and celebrate Nicholai’s engagement.”

“WHAT?” Nicholai exploded uncharacteristically.

“Yes. It’s a wonderful opportunity. Mrs. Reimer is looking for a husband for Helena, her daughter, who is just the same age as you are Nicholai, and Mrs. Reimer likes you. It’s all settled. You will meet Helena on Sunday at the engagement.”

“But you didn’t ask me, Mother,” burst out Nicholai.

“No, but this is for your benefit. Helena will be good to you. You will have a full Wirtschaft and become a leader in Lindenau. That village needs someone like you.”

The argument did sound convincing. Nicholai, not used to debating his mother, acquiesced and pondered quietly the new turn of events.

Sunday came. The whole family, already decked out in their best Sunday clothes, clambered onto three well-appointed wagons pulled by six marvelous horses, and headed towards Lindenau. The day went well, as arranged by the two mothers, and the “bride and bridegroom-to-be” sat centre stage in the big front room. Greetings were accepted from family and friends. Just before the sun was about to set, a number of formal photographs were taken, posed outside in the sunny front yard.

Mission accomplished. Anna’s plan had worked. She was pleased with herself. She didn’t notice ,however, that Nicholai never cracked a smile throughout the whole procedure.

During evenings Nicholai took to sitting in the orchard. He could be found sitting on the bench exactly where Lenchen and he had met. With his head resting on his hands and his elbows supported by his knees, with eyes closed, Nicholai seemed in a trance. Hour after evening hour passed and Nicholai didn’t move. Luckily no one interrupted his reverie. Later, if someone had gone looking for him they would have found Nicholai sketching the exact location of every tree and shrub in the already well-established Janzen garden.

He would make an orchard like this in Lindenau. It would be his private space.

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.
No Response

Leave a reply for "The Bench"