450 EVERYTHING IN ITS RIGHT PLACE
Fortunately for herself, the poor girl in falling seized one of the hanging branches of the willow tree, by means of which she kept herself suspended over the muddy water, and as soon as the baron and his company had disappeared through the castle gate, the girl tried to scramble up again ; but the bough broke off at the top, and she would have fallen backward among the reeds, if a strong hand from above had not at that moment seized her. It was the hand of a pedlar, who had seen from a short distance what had happened, and who now hurried up to give aid.
' Everything in its right place ! ' he said, mimicking the gracious baron ; and he drew the little maiden up to the firm ground. He would have restored the broken branch to the place from which it had been torn, but ' everything in its place ' cannot always be managed, and therefore he stuck the piece in the ground. ' Grow and prosper till you can furnish a good flute for them up yonder,' he said ; for he would have liked to play the ' rogue's march ' for my lord the baron and my lord's whole family. And then he betook himself to the castle, but not into the ancestral hall, he was too humble for that ! He went to the servants' quarters, and the men and maids turned over his stock of goods, and bargained with him ; but from above, where the guests were at table, came a sound of roaring and screaming that was intended for song, and indeed they did their best. Loud laughter, mingled with the barking and howling of dogs resounded, for there was feasting and carousing up yonder. Wine and strong old ale foamed in the jugs and glasses, and the dogs sat with their masters and dined with them. They had the pedlar summoned upstairs, but only to make fun of him. The wine had mounted into their heads, and the sense had flown out. They poured ale into a stocking, that the pedlar might drink with them, but that he must drink quickly ; that was considered a rare jest, and was a cause of fresh laughter. And then whole farms, with oxen and peasants too, were staked on a card, and lost and won.
1 Everything in its right place ! ' said the pedlar, when he had at last made his escape out of what he called ' Sodom and Gomorrah.' ' The open high road is my right place,' he said ; ' I did not feel at all happy there.'