As he approached the inn, in front of which the whole village wasassembled, screams were suddenly heard. A troop of armed peasantswas seen approaching, and every one exclaimed that the criminalhad been apprehended. Werther looked, and was not long in doubt.The prisoner was no other than the servant, who had been formerlyso attached to the widow, and whom he had met prowling about, withthat suppressed anger and ill-concealed despair, which we havebefore described.。， I have lately become acquainted with a Miss B--, a very agreeablegirl, who has retained her natural manners in the midst of artificiallife. Our first conversation pleased us both equally; and, attaking leave, I requested permission to visit her. She consentedin so obliging a manner, that I waited with impatience for thearrival of the happy moment. She is not a native of this place,but resides here with her aunt. The countenance of the old ladyis not prepossessing. I paid her much attention, addressing thegreater part of my conversation to her; and, in less than half anhour, I discovered what her niece subsequently acknowledged to me,that her aged aunt, having but a small fortune, and a still smallershare of understanding, enjoys no satisfaction except in thepedigree of her ancestors, no protection save in her noble birth,and no enjoyment but in looking from her castle over the heads ofthe humble citizens. She was, no doubt, handsome in her youth,and in her early years probably trifled away her time in renderingmany a poor youth the sport of her caprice: in her riper years shehas submitted to the yoke of a veteran officer, who, in return forher person and her small independence, has spent with her what wemay designate her age of brass. He is dead; and she is now awidow, and deserted. She spends her iron age alone, and would notbe approached, except for the loveliness of her niece.
。， The children did not suffer him to remain alone long. They followedhim, skipping and dancing before him, and told him, that afterto-morrow and tomorrow and one day more, they were to receive theirChristmas gift from Charlotte; and they then recounted all thewonders of which they had formed ideas in their child imaginations."Tomorrow and tomorrow," said he, "and one day more!" And hekissed them tenderly. He was going; but the younger boy stoppedhim, to whisper something in his ear. He told him that his elderbrothers had written splendid New-Year's wishes so large! one forpapa, and another for Albert and Charlotte, and one for Werther;and they were to be presented early in the morning, on New Year'sDay. This quite overcame him. He made each of the children apresent, mounted his horse, left his compliments for papa andmamma, and, with tears in his eyes, rode away from the place.
Yes, I feel certain, Wilhelm, and every day I become more certain,that the existence of any being whatever is of very little consequence.A friend of Charlotte's called to see her just now. I withdrewinto a neighbouring apartment, and took up a book; but, finding Icould not read, I sat down to write. I heard them converse in anundertone: they spoke upon indifferent topics, and retailed thenews of the town. One was going to be married; another was ill,very ill, she had a dry cough, her face was growing thinner daily,and she had occasional fits. "N-- is very unwell too," saidCharlotte. "His limbs begin to swell already," answered the other;and my lively imagination carried me at once to the beds of theinfirm. There I see them struggling against death, with all theagonies of pain and horror; and these women, Wilhelm, talk of allthis with as much indifference as one would mention the death ofa stranger. And when I look around the apartment where I now am-- when I see Charlotte's apparel lying before me, and Albert'swritings, and all those articles of furniture which are so familiarto me, even to the very inkstand which I am using, -- when I thinkwhat I am to this family -- everything. My friends esteem me; I oftencontribute to their happiness, and my heart seems as if it couldnot beat without them; and yet --- if I were to die, if I wereto be summoned from the midst of this circle, would they feel --or how long would they feel the void which my loss would make intheir existence? How long! Yes, such is the frailty of man, thateven there, where he has the greatest consciousness of his ownbeing, where he makes the strongest and most forcible impression,even in the memory, in the heart, of his beloved, there also hemust perish, -- vanish, -- and that quickly.。，
。， "This is another of your extravagant humours," said Albert: "youalways exaggerate a case, and in this matter you are undoubtedlywrong; for we were speaking of suicide, which you compare withgreat actions, when it is impossible to regard it as anything buta weakness. It is much easier to die than to bear a life of miserywith fortitude."
DECEMBER 2O.。， Albert looked steadfastly at me, and said, "Pray forgive me, butI do not see that the examples you have adduced bear any relationto the question." "Very likely," I answered; "for I have oftenbeen told that my style of illustration borders a little on theabsurd. But let us see if we cannot place the matter in anotherpoint of view, by inquiring what can be a man's state of mind whoresolves to free himself from the burden of life, -- a burden oftenso pleasant to bear, -- for we cannot otherwise reason fairly uponthe subject.
"Your profile, which was so dear to me, I return to you; and Ipray you to preserve it. Thousands of kisses have I imprintedupon it, and a thousand times has it gladdened my heart on departingfrom and returning to my home.。， I mean now to try and see her as soon as I can: or perhaps, onsecond thoughts, I had better not; it is better I should beholdher through the eyes of her lover. To my sight, perhaps, she wouldnot appear as she now stands before me; and why should I destroyso sweet a picture?
It is certain that she had formed a determination, by every meansin her power to keep Werther at a distance; and, if she hesitatedin her decision, it was from a sincere feeling of friendly pity,knowing how much it would cost him, indeed, that he would find italmost impossible to comply with her wishes. But various causesnow urged her to be firm. Her hushand preserved a strict silenceabout the whole matter; and she never made it a subject ofconversation, feeling bound to prove to him by her conduct thather sentiments agreed with his.。，