Chapter 2: Life in Sommersdorf
At last,we got to Sommersdorf, and created quite a Scene, for we had quite a Nondescript Appearance. My Brother, who was twelve years had on a Red Overcoat, made out of one of my Father's left-off College Coats so that we looked like a company of Play actors. We put up at the Village Inn for a short time, till we found Lodgings in a private House. Now my Father had to go through another Ordeal with the Village Authorities, who objected to his taking up his abode there, the same as the Authorities at Hanover had done. But he had Law on his side this time, being a Native of the Place. This they could not deny for his name would be on the Parish Register. So, that being settled, he looked for more convenient Quarters. Then he saw the Schoolmaster, and arranged for as many of us as were Able to go to School.
We had some trouble and inconvenience at first with the Children, for they would call us names and mock us for our strange speech, and Clothing; but when we wore the same clothes as they did, and learned the Language, we got on very well. When we got quite settled my father took some ground to grow Potatoes and other vegetables, the same as our neighbours. We kept Pigs and Goats, which kept us all in Work for the Afternoon. In the Forenoon we went to school, so that our time was always occupied. So time went merrily on, for, when not at school we ranged the Fields and Woods, the Fields for Thistles and Grass - the thistles for the Pigs - we chopped them small and mixed them with the Barley Meal. The Grass we got from the side of Hedges to feed the Goats. From the Woods we fetched Leaves to make Bedding for Pigs and Goats; for the farmers would give us as much land as the Manure would cover. So we had plenty of Potatoes for ourselves, and to fatten Pigs on in Winter. In the Winter we went into the Wood, in company with other Boys and Girls, to pick 'Eileberen', a Beautiful Blue Berry, and then each would bring his, or her, Burden of Firewood home on our Backs, which we reckoned great fun.
We had been there two years when my brother was confirmed. Before they can go out to Place, or be apprenticed, it was the Law in Germany at that time; and I believe it is so now. After a while it came to be my sister's turn to be confirmed, and she was sent out to learn dressmaking at Sommer .. Borg, an Amt, a plane of Judicature. This was about 1827, when my Father began to decline in Health; he took a Cold one day coming from Helmsted, which laid him up for about six months, and then came the fatal Feb. 3 when I was sent off to Helmsted for Medicine. When I came back I saw him fighting for Breath with Rattles in his throat, and all was soon over. That which we had feared had come: it threw us all in great Consternation. For we had not only lost Father but also our Living; for there would be no more Pension.
I was then twelve years old, and remember the anxious solemn
thoughts I had about it. Going to a Neighbour's Well to fetch Water for
the House I met a Playfellow called Heinrich Gunter. He, seeing me so
cast down, said:- O George , your Father is dead."' I said.- "Yes".
At that moment a Voice spake to me:-
"God will be my Father".
Now the weight from my Heart was removed; Sorrow fled away, and I was no more sad. That cheering Voice of that hour, I may say, has never left me, although I am now seventy four years old.
The solemn time had come, and Father was buried. But now the Question arose: "What was to be done next?" It was concluded, by Mother and Brother, that, when the next Quarter's Pension came, we would call an Auction, and sell all up, and go back to England. This being arranged, we hired a Farmer's Wagon to take us to Magdeburg, a journey of about fifty English Miles. When we got there, we stayed with a Cousin of my Father, with whom we stayed a few days while waiting for a Kahne, or Barge, to take us to Hamburg.