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Fräulein Schmidt and Mr. Anstruther   By: (1866-1941)

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Jena, Nov. 6th.

Dear Roger, This is only to tell you that I love you, supposing you should have forgotten it by the time you get to London. The letter will follow you by the train after the one you left by, and you will have it with your breakfast the day after to morrow. Then you will be eating the marmalade Jena could not produce, and you'll say, 'What a very indiscreet young woman to write first.' But look at the Dear Roger, and you'll see I'm not so indiscreet after all. What could be more sober? And you've no idea of all the nice things I could have put instead of that, only I wouldn't. It is a most extraordinary thing that this time yesterday we were on the polite conversation footing, you, in your beautiful new German, carefully calling me gnädiges Fräulein at every second breath, and I making appropriate answers to the Mr. Anstruther who in one bewildering hour turned for me into Dear Roger. Did you always like me so much? I mean, love me so much? My spirit is rather unbendable as yet to the softnesses of these strange words, stiff for want of use, so forgive a tendency to go round them. Don't you think it is very wonderful that you should have been here a whole year, living with us, seeing me every day, practising your German on me oh, wasn't I patient? and never have shown the least sign, that I could see, of thinking of me or of caring for me at all except as a dim sort of young lady who assisted her step mother in the work of properly mending and feeding you? And then an hour ago, just one hour by that absurd cuckoo clock here in this room where we said good by, you suddenly turned into something marvellous, splendid, soul thrilling well, into Dear Roger. It is so funny that I've been laughing, and so sweet that I've been crying. I'm so happy that I can't help writing, though I do think it rather gushing loathsome word to write first. But then you strictly charged me not to tell a soul yet, and how can I keep altogether quiet? You, then, my poor Roger, must be the one to listen. Do you know what Jena looks like to night? It is the most dazzling place in the world, radiant with promise, shining and dancing with all sorts of little lovely lights that I know are only the lamps being lit in people's rooms down the street, but that look to me extraordinarily like stars of hope come out, in defiance of nature and fog, to give me a glorious welcome. You see, I'm new, and they know it. I'm not the Rose Marie they've twinkled down on from the day I was born till to night. She was a dull person: a mere ordinary, dull person, climbing doggedly up the rows of hours each day set before her, doggedly doing certain things she was told were her daily duties, equally doggedly circumventing certain others, and actually supposing she was happy. Happy? She was not. She was most wretched. She was blind and deaf. She was asleep. She was only half a woman. What is the good or the beauty of anything, alive or dead, in the world, that has not fulfilled its destiny? And I never saw that before. I never saw a great many things before. I am amazed at the suddenness of my awaking. Love passed through this house today, this house that other people think is just the same dull place it was yesterday, and behold well, I won't grow magnificent, and it is what you do if you begin a sentence with Behold. But really there's a splendor oh well. And as for this room where you where I where we well, I won't grow sentimental either, though now I know, I who always scoffed at it, how fatally easy a thing it is to be. That is, supposing one has had great provocation; and haven't I? Oh, haven't I?

I had got as far as that when your beloved Professor Martens came in, very much agitated because he had missed you at the station, where he had been to give you a send off... Continue reading book >>

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