Karl-Ludwig Sand HTML version

hand. He remained weak and sickly, however, up to his seventh year, at which time a
brain fever attacked him; and again put his life in danger. As a compensation, however,
this fever, when it left him, seemed to carry away with it all vestiges of his former illness.
From that moment his health and strength came into existence; but during these two
long illnesses his education had remained very backward, and it was not until the age of
eight that he could begin his elementary studies; moreover, his physical sufferings
having retarded his intellectual development, he needed to work twice as hard as others
to reach the same result.
Seeing the efforts that young Sand made, even while still quite a child, to conquer the
defects of his organisation, Professor Salfranck, a learned and distinguished man,
rector of the Hof gymnasium [college], conceived such an affection for him, that when,
at a later time, he was appointed director of the gymnasium at Ratisbon, he could not
part from his pupil, and took him with him. In this town, and at the age of eleven years,
he gave the first proof of his courage and humanity. One day, when he was walking with
some young friends, he heard cries for help, and ran in that direction: a little boy, eight
or nine years old, had just fallen into a pond. Sand immediately, without regarding his
best clothes, of which, however, he was very proud, sprang into the water, and, after
unheard-of efforts for a child of his age, succeeded in bringing the drowning boy to land.
At the age of twelve or thirteen, Sand, who had become more active, skilful, and
determined than many of his elders, often amused himself by giving battle to the lads of
the town and of the neighbouring villages. The theatre of these childish conflicts, which
in their pale innocence reflected the great battles that were at that time steeping
Germany in blood, was generally a plain extending from the town of Wonsiedel to the
mountain of St. Catherine, which had ruins at its top, and amid the ruins a tower in
excellent preservation. Sand, who was one of the most eager fighters, seeing that his
side had several times been defeated on account of its numerical inferiority, resolved, in
order to make up for this drawback, to fortify the tower of St. Catherine, and to retire into
it at the next battle if its issue proved unfavourable to him. He communicated this plan to
his companions, who received it with enthusiasm. A week was spent, accordingly, in
collecting all possible weapons of defence in the tower and in repairing its doors and
stairs. These preparations were made so secretly that the army of the enemy had no
knowledge of them.
Sunday came: the holidays were the days of battle. Whether because the boys were
ashamed of having been beaten last time, or for some other reason, the band to which
Sand belonged was even weaker than usual. Sure, however, of a means of retreat, he
accepted battle, notwithstanding. The struggle was not a long one; the one party was
too weak in numbers to make a prolonged resistance, and began to retire in the best
order that could be maintained to St. Catherine's tower, which was reached before
much damage had been felt. Having arrived there, some of the combatants ascended to
the ramparts, and while the others defended themselves at the foot of the wall, began to
shower stones and pebbles upon the conquerors. The latter, surprised at the new
method of defence which was now for the first time adopted, retreated a little; the rest of
the defenders took advantage of the moment to retire into the fortress and shut the