The Story of The Little Mamsell

Charlotte Niese
Story Of The Little Mamsell, by
Charlotte Niese

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Title: The Story Of The Little Mamsell
Author: Charlotte Niese
Translator: Miss E. C. Emerson
Release Date: October 27, 2007 [EBook #23221]
Language: English
Character set encoding: ISO-8859-1
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STORY OF THE LITTLE MAMSELL ***

Produced by David Widger

THE STORY OF THE LITTLE MAMSELL
By Charlotte Niese

Translated from the German by Miss E. C. Emerson
"Have you got something good? Then put the basket down and go
along home!" This was one usual greeting from old Mahlmann when
we brought him provisions. He was very old, and rarely out of his bed,
only now and then on warm summer days he sat on the bench before
his tiny cottage and basked in the sun. If a painter had ever strayed to
our uninteresting little town he would certainly have put old
Mahlmann's characteristic head on his canvas. He had a clever old face
with a firm mouth and glittering eyes whose expression was so sombre
and at the same time observant that we children imagined old
Mahlmann was different from other people. And indeed so he was. To
begin with he never thanked anyone for bringing him food; in fact he
criticized freely the benefits he received. If one brought what was not to
his liking, he would say: "Go home and tell your mother old Mahlmann
is not a waste-tub where you throw what's not fit to eat. You needn't
come again either!"
In this manner he got himself into disfavor with many a good
housewife, who would protest by all that was holy that never would she
send the hoary old sinner anything again. But Mahlmann never cared.
His needs were few and there was always some one to satisfy them.
For me the old man with the sombre eyes had a peculiar fascination; I
think from the fact that he once told me a wonderful ghost-story. There
were at least half a dozen witches and a whole dozen ghosts in this tale,
and for many nights after I went to bed in tears, and only on condition
some one sat with me till I fell asleep. Still the spell of these horrors
was so strong upon me that I visited Mahlmann all the more┬╗ and often
bought him something out of my own slender pocket-money to induce
him to tell stories. I was not always successful, for the old man had
morose moods, when he spoke little. At other times he would tell us his
own experiences, and his life had not lacked variety. He had been in
Paris at the time of the Revolution, as servant to a Danish officer of
high rank, and his description "how the fine gentlemen all rode in an
old butcher's cart to have their heads chopped off," left nothing to the
imagination. "My Baron was once near going himself to the 'Gartine,'

or whatever they call it," he told me one day when he was especially
talkative; "but he got well out of it. He was one that could turn the
heads of the women, and it was a woman got him safely out of the
city."
Mahlmann sat on the bench before the door and stretched his skinny
hands to the sun. About his shoulders he had a ragged coat which had
once been red, but was now a coat of many colors. It was so hot that I
took shelter in the shadow of the doorway, but the chilly old man was
shivering. I had brought him a great piece of cake and now offered it to
him. He slowly reached for it, and slowly ate it up.
"That's like what I used to get in Paris. Dear me! My Baron was a
handsome man, and for my age, I must have been about fifteen, I was a
sharp lad--only I couldn't rightly understand their French lingo, which
put me out. But I understood the affair of the little Mamsell well
enough. She lived opposite; her father was a grocer and she helped in
the shop. At first we didn't buy anything there, till a long-legged
Englishman told my Baron that this grocer kept a fine Hungarian wine.
It was out of the King's wine-cellar and he wasn't drinking any more
wine because he had gone to the 'Gartine/ And a few sensible people
had divided the wine, which was only right, and it was
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