“Adelsverein!” exclaimed Vati, with enthusiasm burning hectically in his eyes behind his thick spectacles. “It may be the answer to our dilemma, the situation in which we find ourselves! Magda, dearest child, you must read this. It’s all here. What they are offering. Everything and a new life and land, besides! Land enough for all of you children to have a decent and prosperous life, and I should not have to take myself away to the city.”
“Yes, Vati,” his stepdaughter sighed. ”I’ll read it most carefully, before Hansi and Mutti see it.” She took the slim pamphlet from him, although she was already carrying his box of watch-making tools, as the two of them walked along the narrow village street, of which Albeck only had four, including the one which led to the city of Ulm. A late snowstorm scattered a few feather-like flakes around them, which whispered as they settled on the muddy and oft-churned ground. They stepped aside as a pair of bullocks pulling a sledge with a load of manure went past.
“Is that not Peter Frimmel already mulching his field?” Vati squinted after them. “It is early, yet, I think.”
“It’s March, Vati,” Magda answered. She was a tall young woman with the ink-black hair and dark hazel eyes of her father, Mutti’s first husband who had died when she was a baby. She had much of her mother’s brisk manner and angular features wholly her own and thought to be too sharp and too forceful for beauty.
“Oh, so ‘tis,” Vati looked around him vaguely. He stood a head shorter than his stepdaughter, a gnome-like and lightly-built little man of middle age, whose near-sighted gray eyes reflected both the gentle wisdom of years but still some of the innocent enthusiasm of a child. “I lose track of the days, in the shop and away from the land. And that is the problem, dear Magda. There is barely enough to support us now. How will you all live, when my share is divided between the boys and you have a dower-share as did Liesel when she married Hansi?”
“I don’t care to marry,” Magda answered with a toss of her head. “I don’t care in the slightest for any of the eligible bachelors in Albeck, and I don’t want to go elsewhere. Who would look after you and Mutti?”