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Memories Awakened
by [?]

Chapter I

The Change of Circumstances

A very wealthy and worthy merchant, named Vollmar, lived in a large commercial city. Here he carried on a prosperous business which had descended to him from his father. By clever management, industry and honesty, he succeeded in enlarging it; and thereby increased his wealth.

Up to the present time, Mr. Vollmar had had unusual success, but circumstances were soon to change. One morning as the family was breakfasting, the postman delivered a letter containing the information that the ship which carried a valuable cargo belonging to Mr. Vollmar had been lost at sea.

This was a severe blow; for the greater part of his fortune was now gone. But as luck and riches had not made him proud, so this misfortune and loss did not make him despondent.

Turning to his children, he said: “God gives and He also takes away. He may restore all things unto us when His wise purposes have been fulfilled. You can see that this is true, when you review the lives of your grandparents and great-grandparents, whose pictures in the golden frames grace this room so beautifully.

“Your great-grandfather, Lucas Vollmar, was the richest man in the city. All that we once had and now have would not have equalled his fortune by one quarter. Owing to the ‘Thirty Years’ War,’ he lost all. He was obliged to flee from the enemy. His wife did not survive the journey. Their only son, my father, was then but a tender youth, and suffered much during those troublous times.

“Soon this city was invaded by the enemy and plundered. Many bombs were fired into it and homes were reduced to ashes. Into this very house, which belonged to him, fell a great cannon ball which did much damage but did not set it on fire. All the families, too, suffered the greatest misery. Hunger and pestilence carried off many of them.

“Your worthy great-grandfather sought refuge in strange lands and suffered many hardships. He had taken as much money with him as he could carry, but on the way he was robbed. He earned his livelihood in various ways, and soon put his son out as an apprentice. When the lad was fourteen years old, he was called upon to face another hardship in the loss of his father, who died in misery and poverty, although he had once been the richest man in this city.

“This son, my father, now alone in the world, continued as an apprentice and made progress in his trade. At last, when the war was over and peace had been restored, he returned to this city, poor in the world’s goods, but rich in knowledge and goodness.

“Through a decision of the court, this house was returned to him. The things that he found when he entered were empty chests and those two pictures hanging on the wall opposite. Look at them. Do you not read in those faces kindness and true worth? Yes, my children, they were indeed good people.

“You never saw your great-grandparents, but you do remember your grandfather, for he often held you both on his lap. He had to work hard to build up a business, but through the help of his good wife he soon acquired wealth.

“So, my children, you have now seen how from wealth one may be reduced to poverty, and how from nothing one may rise and become something.

“My father showed me that no matter how rich he became, he always laid by some money for the time of need. He employed the best workers and paid the best wages; and was a great benefactor to the poor.

“His example and his teachings I have followed, or to-day we would be very poor indeed, now that I have lost my goods at sea. We must be very economical and, perhaps, in time we may retrieve our loss.”