Veile returned to her home, as she had escaped, unnoticed. The narrow street was deserted, as desolate as
death. The searchers were to be found everywhere except there where they ought first to have sought for the
missing one. Her mother, Selde, still sat on the same chair on which she had sunk down an hour ago. The
fright had left her like one paralyzed, and she was unable to rise. What a wonderful contrast this
wedding-room, with the mother sitting alone in it, presented to the hilarity reigning here shortly before! On
Veile's entrance her mother did not cry out. She had no strength to do so. She merely said: 'So you have come
at last, my daughter?' as if Veile had only returned from a walk somewhat too long. But the young woman did
not answer to this and similar questions. Finally she signified by gesticulations that she could not speak.
Fright seized the wretched mother a second time, and the entire house was filled with her lamentations.
Ruben Klattaner and Veile's husband having now returned from their fruitless search, were horrified on
perceiving the change which Veile had undergone. Being men, they did not weep. With staring eyes they
gazed upon the silent young woman, and beheld in her an apparition which had been dealt with by God's
visitation in a mysterious manner.
From this hour began the terrible penance of the young woman.
The impression which Veile's woeful condition made upon the people of the gasse was wonderful. Those who
had danced with her that evening on the wedding now first recalled her excited state. Her wild actions were
now first remembered by many. It must have been an 'evil eye,' they concluded--a jealous, evil eye, to which
her beauty was hateful. This alone could have possessed her with a demon of unrest. She was driven by this
evil power into the dark night, a sport of these malicious potencies which pursue men step by step, especially
on such occasions. The living God alone knows what she must have seen that night. Nothing good, else one
would not become dumb. Old legends and tales were revived, each more horrible than the other. Hundreds of
instances were given to prove that this was nothing new in the gasse. Despite this explanation, it is remarkable
that the people did not believe that the young woman was dumb. The most thought that her power of speech
had been paralyzed by some awful fright, but that with time it would be restored. Under this supposition they
called her 'Veile the Silent.'
There is a kind of human eloquence more telling, more forcible than the loudest words, than the choicest
diction--the silence of woman! Ofttimes they cannot endure the slightest vexation, but some great,
heart-breaking sorrow, some pain from constant renunciation, self-sacrifice, they suffer with sealed lips--as if,
in very truth, they were bound with bars of iron.
It would be difficult to fully describe that long 'silent' life of the young woman. It is almost impossible to cite
more than one incident. Veile accompanied her husband to his home, that house resplendent with that gold
and silver which had infatuated her. She was, to be sure, the 'first' woman in the gasse; she had everything in
abundance. Indeed, the world supposed that she had but little cause for complaint. 'Must one have
everything?' was sometimes queried in the gasse. 'One has one thing; another, another.' And, according to all
appearances, the people were right. Veile continued to be the beautiful, blooming woman. Her penance of
silence did not deprive her of a single charm. She was so very happy, indeed, that she did not seem to feel
even the pain of her punishment. Veile could laugh and rejoice, but never did she forget to be silent. The
seemingly happy days, however, were only qualified to bring about the proper time of trials and temptations.
The beginning was easy enough for her, the middle and end were times of real pain. The first years of their
wedded life were childless. 'It is well,' the people in the gasse said, 'that she has no children, and God has
rightly ordained it to be so. A mother who cannot talk to her child, that would be something awful!'
Unexpectedly to all, she rejoiced one day in the birth of a daughter. And when that affectionate young
creature, her own offspring, was laid upon her breast, and the first sounds were uttered by its lips--that
nameless, eloquent utterance of an infant--she forgot herself not; she was silent!
She was silent also when from day to day that child blossomed before her eyes into fuller beauty. Nor had she
any words for it when, in effusions of tenderness, it stretched forth its tiny arms, when in burning fever it
sought for the mother's hand. For days--yes, weeks--together she watched at its bedside. Sleep never visited
her eyes. But she ever remembered her penance.
Years fled by. In her arms she carried another child. It was a boy. The father's joy was great. The child
inherited its mother's beauty. Like its sister, it grew in health and strength. The noblest, richest mother, they
said, might be proud of such children! And Veile was proud, no doubt, but this never passed her lips. She
remained silent about things which mothers in their joy often cannot find words enough to express. And
although her face many times lighted up with beaming smiles, yet she never renounced the habitual silence
imposed upon her.