Schmidt is the Schönwald
stableman, and was already the stableman when Otto arrived at
Schönwald. Helmuth was used to the old-fashioned Junker
way of doing things, so he was uneasy at first with Otto’s
easy going ways. Over time, however, Helmuth came to
take pride in the trust Otto put in him, and to appreciate
being out of the oppressive serf-liege relationship of working
for the von Puttkamers, though he never showed any
appreciation of anything.
from blacksmiths who had been in the area since the dawn of
time, Helmuth was born in the Schönwald stables to the Schönwald
stableman and the daughter of a stableman from a nearby
The line of
Schmidts that showed more affinity for the horses they shod
than for the iron they shod the horses with, moved from the
smithy to the stables.
closely connected to the smiths in the neighbouring estates
Helmuth was a young man he was quite the womanizer, causing
his fair share of scandals in Schönwald village and all the
villages, towns and estates within a day’s ride.
an angry father caught up with him and caused a shot-gun
wedding, Helmuth took his duties as husband and father
hard, and took good care of his wife and son.
a very hard birth rendered the baby mentally slow, and
Helmuth’s bride was never strong and hale again.
fact that as long as he was young enough to outrun everyone he
wasn’t above having a fling with any lady married or not who
was willing to have him, Helmuth took the damage to his son,
Markus, to be punishment from God for his sins.
epidemic of 1846 carried off Helmuth’s wife and his
daughters, leaving him with three sons, Markus who never
advanced to more than the mental level of a toddler, no matter
how big he got, Kurt, who was 5 years old, and the baby,
This was the
point at which Helmuth decided it was time to mend his ways
and sin no more, because he took his losses to also be
punishment from God and was afraid if he sinned again God
would take his sons as well.
That God had
taken his useful daughters and left Markus proved to Helmuth
that God was punishing him.
From that time
on Helmuth was relentlessly pessimistic about everything.
epidemic of 1846 also carried off the Schönwald cook, so
Otto, in desperation, asked his sister Adelheid to lend him
her cook, temporarily.
arrived from Vienna she was scorned and bullied by the
household staff of Schönwald.
weeping in the Gutshof one day, Helmuth comforted her, and one
thing led to another.
intentions to sin no more, he took Emma’s virginity, though
she was his last conquest.
her, which meant she could not return to her mistress in
Vienna, and their daughter was born seven months later.
named her daughter Cosima, after Saint Cosmos, because she had
arrived in Prussia on Saint Cosmos’s feast day.
later a second daughter was born on Saint Ursula’s feast day
and named Ursula.
Helmuth was now a faithful husband for the first time in his
life, his new daughters were not the comfort of his life the
way his first daughters had been.
These two were
huge, ungainly creatures who were, Helmuth was sure,
punishment from God for his sins.
Emma was a
good step-mother to Helmuth’s sons, but she could do nothing
to cure Markus.
Under her care
Kurt grew strong and tall, hardworking and honourable, though
Wolfgang proved to be always self-pitying, lazy and sulky.
considered Wolfgang to be a punishment from God.
had never paid much attention to his first wife’s well
being, taking it for granted that if she were fed and housed
she would be happy and well.
of losing her, however, meant he lived in fear of losing Emma.
constantly afraid that something would happen to Emma, and
often fussed at Otto about not working her too hard.
showed his affection for Emma directly to her, but she
understood him and took his fussing in stride.
groused about everything, worried about everything, and fumed
at his children.
Only to the
horses was he gentle and kind.
To the horses
he gave first rate care.
He ran the
stables so well that Otto would have put up with a lot more
than sourness from Helmuth.
however, never did realise his own value, or see where he was
recognise his daughter Cosima’s integrity, ambition, and
good work ethic.
recognise those same qualities in his son, Kurt, but when he
saw them they make him uneasy.
Even in the
positive, Helmuth saw a negative.