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The Indian Lily and Other Stories   By: (1857-1928)

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First Page:

THE INDIAN LILY

AND OTHER STORIES

BY

HERMANN SUDERMANN

TRANSLATED BY

LUDWIG LEWISOHN, M.A.

1911

CONTENTS

THE INDIAN LILY

THE PURPOSE

THE SONG OF DEATH

THE VICTIM

AUTUMN

MERRY FOLK

THEA

THE INDIAN LILY

Chapter I.

It was seven o'clock in the morning when Herr von Niebeldingk opened the iron gate and stepped into the front garden whose wall of blossoming bushes separated the house from the street.

The sun of a May morning tinted the greyish walls with gold, and caused the open window panes to flash with flame.

The master directed a brief glance at the second story whence floated the dull sound of the carpet beater. He thrust the key rapidly into the keyhole for a desire stirred in him to slip past the porter's lodge unobserved.

"I seem almost to be ashamed!" he murmured with a smile of self derision as a similar impulse overcame him in front of the house door.

But John, his man a dignified person of fifty had observed his approach and stood in the opening door. The servant's mutton chop whiskers and admirably silvered front lock contrasted with a repressed reproach that hovered between his brows. He bowed deeply.

"I was delayed," said Herr von Niebeldingk, in order to say something and was vexed because this sentence sounded almost like an excuse.

"Do you desire to go to bed, captain, or would you prefer a bath?"

"A bath," the master responded. "I have slept elsewhere."

That sounded almost like another excuse.

"I'm obviously out of practice," he reflected as he entered the breakfast room where the silver samovar steamed among the dishes of old Sèvres.

He stepped in front of the mirror and regarded himself not with the forbearance of a friend but the keen scrutiny of a critic.

"Yellow, yellow...." He shook his head. "I must apply a curb to my feelings."

Upon the whole, however, he had reason to be fairly satisfied with himself. His figure, despite the approach of his fortieth year, had remained slender and elastic. The sternly chiselled face, surrounded by a short, half pointed beard, showed neither flabbiness nor bloat. It was only around the dark, weary eyes that the experiences of the past night had laid a net work of wrinkles and shadows. Ten years ago pleasure had driven the hair from his temples, but it grew energetically upon his crown and rose, above his forehead, in a Mephistophelian curve.

The civilian's costume which often lends retired officers a guise of excessive spick and spanness had gradually combined with an easier bearing to give his figure a natural elegance. To be sure, six years had passed since, displeased by a nagging major, he had definitely hung up the dragoon's coat of blue.

He was wealthy enough to have been able to indulge in the luxury of that displeasure. In addition his estates demanded more rigorous management.... From Christmas to late spring he lived in Berlin, where his older brother occupied one of those positions at court that mean little enough either to superior or inferior ranks, but which, in a certain social set dependent upon the court, have an influence of inestimable value. Without assuming the part of either a social lion or a patron, he used this influence with sufficient thoroughness to be popular, even, in certain cases, to be feared, and belonged to that class of men to whom one always confides one's difficulties, never one's wife.

John came to announce to his master that the bath was ready. And while Niebeldingk stretched himself lazily in the tepid water he let his reflections glide serenely about the delightful occurrence of the past night.

That occurrence had been due for six months, but opportunity had been lacking. "I am closely watched and well known," she had told him, "and dare not go on secret errands." ... Now at last their chance had come and had been used with clever circumspectness.... Somewhere on the Polish boundary lived one of her cousins to whose wedding she was permitted to travel alone.... She had planned to arrive in Berlin unannounced and, instead of taking the morning train from Eydtkuhnen, to take the train of the previous evening... Continue reading book >>




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