University of Wisconsin Digital Collections
Link to University of Wisconsin Digital Collections
Link to University of Wisconsin Digital Collections
The Literature Collection

Page View

Dresbach, Glenn W. (ed.) / The Wisconsin magazine
Vol. VIII, No. 2 (November 1910)

Needham, Maurice
Harnoff, watcher of the night,   pp. [unnumbered]-5

Page 2

autumn was in the air, and after dinner
my host sat down before an open fire to
enjoy his pipe with his family about him.
There was'the good frau at his right knit-
ting in the ruddy glow of the flames. I
could see she had at one time been a pretty
girl-above the average. And then, too,
her only daughter, Elga, a girl of sixteen,
would catch the eyes of even the most
blase. Her skin was pink and white. She
had the good health an outdoor life had
given her, and her clear blue eyes-bash-
ful when strangers were about-drew mine
to them frequently during the evening,
only to find they had drooped and hidden
themselves. The sons of the family-four
in number-were all either full grown
men or verging on manhood. They were
a sturdy, stolid lot. Elga was easily the
favorite of ther family, as could be seen
bv the little awkward attentions she re-
ceived from the others. The crackling of
the flames was the only sound heard for
some time after the few remarks encour-
aged by the meal had died down with their
cause. But I knew that if I managed
properly and with due delicacy I would
have them talking. After opening up with
a few questions on the success of the har-
vest just gathered in, and comments per-
taining to their everyday life, I casually
asked if they had ever heard of a man
named Harnoff Czand. The effect of my
query was amazing. Every member of the
family turned quickly towards me, regard-
ing me with close scrutiny. The brows
of my host knotted. I was rather in a
quandary what to do, when he said in a
low, tense voice:
  "Harnoff Czand! Harnoff, Watcher of
the Night !" He paused. "Yes, we know
of him. We do not speak of him."
  He seemed to regret having even said
the name. He clenched his fists, and his
face was contorted. Absolute silence was
maintained. Everybody gazed with at-
tempted stolidity into the fire. I could
see that I had touched on something which
concerned these people closely. I deter-
mined for the present to drop the matter
and go at it more diplomatically. There
was no more conversation except a com-
monplace word now and then. One by
one during the early part of the evening
the members of the family retired to the
loft. I was left with my host.
   "You seemed startled, friend, when I
 mentioned the name Czand. I do not wish
 to probe where you would not have me,
 but I am curious concerning this man,
 and if you could help lead me to any in-
 formation in any way touching him you
 would not be without your reward."
   He looked at me once while I was
 speaking, and then turned back to the
 dying embers on the hearth. He seemed
 deeply moved by some recollection. What
 could it be? I became more interested as
 I scented something out of the ordinary
 run of governmental police work, and I
 began to think of Czand not only as a
 political refugee on German soil, but as
 an actor in a Danzwerder drama.
   My host said nothing for upwards of
five minutes, and I began to think I would
have to take another tack. Finally he
broke silence. His voice trembled in spite
of his efforts to appear calm.
   "You have come here as a friend. We
welcome strangers; we make friends of
them. You have named a name which
has not passed the lips of any member of
this house for eight years. Why do you
come and disturb our peace? Why do
you make us remember what we strive to
forget?  Oh, God!     Czand!    Czand!
Czand !"
  He spoke the name with an inexpressi-
ble mixture of bitterness and fear, longing
and regret. Such emotion I had never
before seen in a peasant. I was awed.
  "I beg your pardon, friend," I said, "I
did not know."
  Ir resolved never to harrow this family
again with my search, but continue my
work elsewhere. I lay in bed a long while
thinking of strange things before I finally
fell asleep. What connection could this
simple German family have with a Polish
revolutionist, and many other questions
confronted my wondering mind.
  The next day I spent getting acquainted
with the inhabitants of Danzwerder, and
the day after that, and for several days,
without making definite headway on my
quest. The peasants-most of them farm-
ers on the surrounding land-were trust-
ful and friendly. I did a service when-
ever I had the opportunity, no matter who

Go up to Top of Page