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The Son of His Mother   By: (1860-1952)

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E text prepared by Charles Bowen from page images generously made available by Internet Archive/American Libraries (

Note: Images of the original pages are available through Internet Archive/American Libraries. See




Authorised Translation by H. Raahauge

London: John Lane The Bodley Head New York: John Lane Company Toronto: Bell & Cockburn MCMXIII

The Anchor Press, Ltd., Tiptree Essex




The husband and wife were of a literary turn of mind, and as they had the money to cultivate their artistic tastes he wrote a little and she painted. They also played and sang duets together, at least they had done so when they were first married; now they went to concerts and the opera more frequently instead. They were liked wherever they went, they had friends, they were called "charming people," and still something was wanting to complete their happiness they had no children.

And they would probably not have any now, as they had been married for some time, and the likelihood of children being born to them was very remote.

No doubt he sighed and knit his brow in unguarded moments when he sat at his desk in his office, but especially when he passed through the villages in the Brandenburg March on the rides he took in the more distant environs of Berlin partly for his health, partly because he still retained the liking for riding from the time he was in the cavalry and saw swarms of little flaxen haired children romping on the sandy roads. However, he did not let his wife perceive that he missed something, for he loved her.

But she could not control herself in the same manner. The longer she was married the more nervous she became. At times she felt irritated with her husband for no reason. She persistently turned her eyes away from the announcement of births in the newspapers with a certain shrinking, and, if her glance happened once in a way to fall on one in which happy parents notified the birth of a son, she put the paper aside hastily.

In former years K├Ąte Schlieben had knitted, crocheted, embroidered and sewn all sorts of pretty little children's garments she used to be quite famous for the daintiness of her little baby jackets trimmed with blue and pink ribbons, all her newly married acquaintances would ask her for the wonderful little things but now she had finally given up that sort of work. She had given up hope. What good did it do her to put her forefingers into the tiny sleeves of a baby's first jacket, and, holding it out in front of her, gaze at it a long, long time with dreamy eyes? It only tortured her.

And she felt the torture twice as much in those grey days that suddenly put in an appearance without any reason, that creep in silently even in the midst of sunshine. On those occasions she would lie on the couch in her room that was furnished with such exquisite taste really artistically and close her eyes tightly. And then all at once a shout, clear, shrill, triumphant, like the cry of a swallow on the wing, would ascend from the street, from the promenade under the chestnut trees. She stopped her ears when she heard that cry, which penetrated further than any other tone, which soared up into the ether as swiftly as an arrow, and cradled itself up there blissfully. She could not bear to hear anything like that she was becoming morbid.

Alas, when she and her husband grew old, with minds no longer so receptive and too weary to seek incitement in the world, who would bring it to them in their home? Who would bring them anything of what was going on outside? What youth with his freshness, with the joyousness that envelops those of twenty like a dainty garment, that beams from smooth brows like warmth and sunshine, would give them back a breath of their youth, which had already disappeared in accordance with the laws of Time? Who would wax enthusiastic at the things that had once made them enthusiastic, and which they would enjoy once more as though they were new for them too? Who would fill the house and garden with his laughter, with that careless laughter that is so infectious? Who would kiss them with warm lips, and make them happy by his tenderness? Who would carry them on his wings with him, so that they did not feel they were weary?

Alas, there is no second youth for those who are childless... Continue reading book >>

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