It was an icy-cold night; the snow glistened and the stars twinkled. The heavy hearse brought the body from the city to the country church, where it was to be laid in the family vault. The steward and the parish bailiff were waiting on horseback, with torches, in front of the cemetery gate. The church was lighted up, and the pastor stood in the open church door to receive the body. The coffin was carried up into the chancel; the whole congregation followed. The pastor spoke, and a psalm was sung. The lady was present in the church; she had been driven there in the black-draped state coach, which was black inside as well as outside; such a carriage had never before been seen in the parish.
Throughout the winter, people talked about this impressive display of grief; it was indeed a "nobleman's funeral."
"One could well see how important the man was," said the village folk. "He was nobly born and he was nobly buried."
"What good will it do him?" said the tailor. "Now he has neither life nor goods. At least we have one of these."
"Don't speak such words!" said Maren. "He has everlasting life in the kingdom of heaven."
"Who told you that, Maren?" said the tailor. "A dead man is good manure, but this man was too highborn to even do the soil any good; he must lie in a church vault."
"Don't speak so impiously!" said Maren. "I tell you again he has everlasting life!"