All were silent, and looked at one another, till an old woman said—
"He has left here these twelve years. He lives at Sachsenberg; you'll hardly get there to-day."
"God help him!" said an old crone leaning on a crutch. "He has been confined these fifteen years in the house, which he'll never leave again."
He recognised, as he thought, his suddenly aged neighbour; but he had lost all desire of asking any more questions. At last a brisk young woman, with a boy of a twelvemonth old in her arms, and with a little girl holding her hand, made her way through the gaping crowd, and they looked for all the world like his wife and children.
"What is your name?" said Peter, astonished.
"And your father?"
"God have mercy on him, Peter Klaus. It is twenty years since we sought him day and night on the Kyffhauser, when his goats came home without him. I was only seven years old when it happened."
The goatherd could no longer contain himself.
"I am Peter Klaus," he cried, "and no other," and he took the babe from his daughter's arms.
All stood like statues for a minute, till one and then another began to cry—
"Here's Peter Klaus come back again! Welcome, neighbour, welcome, after twenty years; welcome, Peter Klaus!"