Scharnhorst had been the butler of Schönwald for many years.
His family had originated in Hanover, but for several
generations they had lived and worked in the households of the
born in the easternmost von Puttkamer holding, in Byelorussia,
but had travelled west to Schönwald as a youth, and had
remained there, working his way up from page to footman, from
footman to butler's assistant, and then became the butler
himself on the death of his predecessor and mentor Herr Hess.
By the time Otto
became the Gutsherr of Schönwald, Scharnhorst was in his
sixties, an old man in the 19th century. He was the one
who knew more about the history of Schönwald than anyone else,
the one everyone turned to for the "right thing" to do.
For Scharnhorst, the "right thing" was more than simply doing
what had always been done, it also depended on what was
ethically right, what was for the greater good for the future
of Schönwald, the socially correct thing to do.
Propriety and etiquette were very important to him.
seen a lot of changes in his life time. Prussian society
itself had been altered by defeat at the hands of Napoleon's
armies, and life under French occupation. Scharnhorst
gave no thought to such things. He neither yearned for the
"old days" nor tried to keep up with the "latest thing."
He concentrated on what had to be done right at that moment,
passing no judgement one way or another on things outside of
his immediate responsibilities.
In his youth he
had been competitive, passionate, and compassionate. His hard
work, ambition, and attention to detail had stood him in good
stead in his aim to rise through the ranks of the staff.
He had no ambition to leave Schönwald, however, being content
to wait until he could step into the shoes of his old mentor,
had arrived at Schönwald, Herr Hess and his wife had taken the
honest and hard working youngster under their wing. They
were like surrogate parents to him, and he formed a life-long
attachment to them both.
In time, Frau
Hess became the housekeeper of Schönwald, and Scharnhorst
learned as much from her about how a household ought to be run
as he had learned from Herr Hess. He became the butler
of Schönwald some years after Herr Hess's death, but when he
was still hardly more than a youth. He was in love with
Ludowine Hess, the only child of the Hesses, who had married
late as people in service often did.
was even younger than he was, Scharnhorst resolved to wait
until she was grown up, and until he had established himself
as butler before he made his feelings clear. His dream
was that they would be housekeeper and butler of Schönwald,
working as a married team, as her parents had.
Much as Ludowine
liked and admired Kryzsztof, and would have been willing to go
along with his plan, she was more taken with the charming
young man Scharnhorst had hired to be his assistant.
Ludowine was a good girl, but she was young and not immune to
flattery. Konrad Zimmermann seduced her. They had
shock and grief were overwhelming that she had been taken in
and had married someone else in haste. Before he had a
chance to come to terms with the loss of his dreams, he had
lost her completely. Ludowine Hess died in childbirth.
In the confusion
after her death it wasn't noticed at first that Zimmermann was
missing. He was never seen again. He hadn't even
waited long enough to attend the funeral of his wife and
child. Word reached Schönwald some time later that he
had gone to the New World.
fully recovered. He blamed himself for not speaking up.
Perhaps if he'd made Ludowine an offer Zimmermann might not
have been able to seduce her. He blamed himself for not
protecting her from him. He blamed himself for not
realising the character flaws in Zimmermann. It had been
his first attempt to hire staff, and it had had disastrous
From that time on
Scharnhorst gave no thought to the future, or to the past.
He made no judgements about anything going on around him.
He took care to pay attention only to his work. To
honour the memory of Herr Hess and his family, Scharnhorst did
the very best work that it was possible for him to do.
Everything in his world was the Will of God.
When God saw fit
to leave Schönwald with only an heiress, Scharnhorst didn't
question it, or think it was a shame, he did his best to see
to it that his part of the estate ran as well as it ever had.
When having an
heiress meant that the new Gutsherr of Schönwald was not a von
Puttkamer, but Hildegard's husband, Otto von Goff, Scharnhorst
gave him the same dedication as he had any of the von
When Otto and
Hildegard had only one child, which meant Schönwald was going
to an heiress again, Scharnhorst did his best to see to it
that anything he could do to assist in preparing Luise for her
future as Gutsherrin of Schönwald was done to the best of his
arose at Schönwald, Scharnhorst paid no attention, managing to
wend his way through the minefields of loyalty to one side or
the other without joining any one of them, and without losing
the respect of any of them, the only person who as able to
proved unable to fulfil her duties and Otto actually found it
necessary to meddle in women's work, Scharnhorst continued on
as if that were the normal state of things, accepting such
things as an illiterate Hungarian nomad as the Schönwald cook,
and a miller's daughter, cousin of the stableman, as the new
housekeeper without turning a hair.
When Frau Hess
slid steadily towards senile dementia, being more and more
unable to function as housekeeper, he did everything he could
to assist her, never able to forgive himself for what he saw
as his part in the loss of her daughter.
It was when the
new housekeeper, Minna Müller, obtained the household accounts
from Hildegard that Scharnhorst finally had to confront his
memories. He saw again the clear, precise handwriting of
his long lost Ludowine. He saw the last entry she had
made before her death. He saw the change in Frau Hess's
hand from before Ludowine's death to after it. And he
saw something else, too: the lock on the wooden box was
broken, and funds had gone missing between Ludowine's last
entry and Frau Hess's resumption of her tasks.
Then he knew as
surely as if he'd been there and seen it happen that what had
gone on had been even worse than he'd known. Either
while his wife laboured, or about the time the wailing had
started that the baby was lost and the midwife didn't think
she could save Ludowine, Konrad Zimmermann had broken open the
housekeeping box, taken the funds inside, and used them to
purchase his fare to the New World.
It looked as if
Frau Hess had replaced the funds with her life's savings and
what had been left to her by her husband. No one had
been surprised that she had been forever afterwards wavering
and unsure of herself after the death of her beautiful
daughter and her grandchild, but not a single one of them had
known the other burden of embarrassment and shame she had
carried all alone.
Scharnhorst had never been involved with another woman.
His love for Ludowine and his guilt over her loss had caused
him to put all of his time and attention into his work.
He never wanted to leave Schönwald, where Ludowine and her
father were buried. All he could do was send her mother,
Frau Hess, what little comfort he could manage to where she
lived in retirement up on the Baltic coast, and to continue to
do his best to work in such a way that Herr Hess would have
approved of the result of his teachings.