"False time!" as our rhythm was suddenly interrupted: for, like a
lightning flash, a shooting star tore its way across the clouds after
the third report, and almost involuntarily our fourth and fifth shots
were sent after it in the direction it had taken.
"False time!" said the philosopher again, "who told you to shoot
stars! They can fall well enough without you! People should know what
they want before they begin to handle weapons."
And then we once more heard that loud melody from the waters of the
Rhine, intoned by numerous and strong voices. "They understand us,"
said the philosopher, laughing, "and who indeed could resist when
such a dazzling phantom comes within range?" "Hush!" interrupted his
friend, "what sort of a company can it be that returns the signal to
us in such a way? I should say they were between twenty and forty
strong, manly voices in that crowd--and where would such a number come
from to greet us? They don't appear to have left the opposite bank of
the Rhine yet; but at any rate we must have a look at them from our
own side of the river. Come along, quickly!"
We were then standing near the top of the hill, you may remember, and
our view of the river was interrupted by a dark, thick wood. On the
other hand, as I have told you, from the quiet little spot which we
had left we could have a better view than from the little plateau on
the hillside; and the Rhine, with the island of Nonnenwoerth in the
middle, was just visible to the beholder who peered over the
tree-tops. We therefore set off hastily towards this little spot,
taking care, however, not to go too quickly for the philosopher's
comfort. The night was pitch dark, and we seemed to find our way by
instinct rather than by clearly distinguishing the path, as we walked
down with the philosopher in the middle.
We had scarcely reached our side of the river when a broad and fiery,
yet dull and uncertain light shot up, which plainly came from the
opposite side of the Rhine. "Those are torches," I cried, "there is
nothing surer than that my comrades from Bonn are over yonder, and
that your friend must be with them. It is they who sang that peculiar
song, and they have doubtless accompanied your friend here. See!
Listen! They are putting off in little boats. The whole torchlight
procession will have arrived here in less than half an hour."
The philosopher jumped back. "What do you say?" he ejaculated, "your
Professor Michael S.