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The Song of Songs   By: (1857-1928)

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THE SONG OF SONGS

(DAS HOHE LIED)

BY HERMANN SUDERMANN

TRANSLATED BY THOMAS SELTZER

NEW YORK THE VIKING PRESS MCMXXVI

Copyright, 1909, by J. G. COTTA'SCHE BUCHHANDLUNG NACHFOLGER, Stuttgart

All rights reserved

Published in Germany, November 21, 1908

Privilege of copyright in the United States reserved under the act approved March 3, 1905, by J. G. Cotta'sche Buchhandlung Nachfolger

Published November 20, 1909 Second printing, January, 1910 Third printing, February, 1910 Fourth printing, April, 1910 Fifth printing, September, 1910 Sixth printing, September, 1911 Seventh printing, March, 1913 Eighth printing, December, 1913 Ninth printing, January, 1915 Tenth printing, June, 1916 Eleventh printing, 1919 Twelfth printing, April, 1921 Thirteenth printing, September, 1923 Fourteenth printing, December, 1926

THE SONG OF SONGS

PART I

CHAPTER I

Lilly was fourteen years old when her father, Kilian Czepanek, the music master, suddenly disappeared.

It happened in this way. He had been giving piano lessons the whole day, in the interim swearing and drinking Moselle and Selters, for it was intensely hot. Occasionally he had slipped into the dining room to take a cognac or arrange his Windsor necktie. He had pulled Lilly's brown curls as she sat labouring over her French vocabulary, and had disappeared again into the best room, where the girl pupils changed from hour to hour, and only the dissonances and the curses remained.

When the last victim had stumbled through her lesson and closed the hall door behind her, Czepanek failed to reappear in his usual bad temper and with his usual appetite. He remained in the front room, where this day he neither whistled nor whined nor played out his rage on the keyboard, as he sometimes did after a day's labour. In fact, he gave scarcely a sign of life. Now and then a deep sigh that was all.

Lilly, who took warm interest in everything her handsome father did or did not do, let her French textbook slip from her lap, and stole up to the keyhole.

Through it she saw him standing before the large pier glass, absorbed in a close study of himself. From time to time he raised his left hand and pressed it as if in despair against his soft, silky, dark artist's curls, which Lilly's mother devotedly fostered every day with bay rum and French oils.

He and his reflection gazed at each other's moist red face with wild, eager eyes, and Lilly's heart expanded in love of her adored papa.

To Lilly his standing before the mirror was a familiar sight. It was his manner of squaring accounts for his lost life and wasted love, his manner of charming back the great world, in which duchesses and prima donnas yearningly cherished the memory of their vanished idol.

He stood there like an elderly god of love, with small alcoholic puffs under his eyes, and a tendency toward a paunch.

Both mama and Lilly cared for him with unremitting zeal. They regarded him as a sort of bird of paradise, who by a lucky chance had been caught between the walls of a room, and who required the greatest effort, the utmost circumspection, to keep him safe in the cage.

By right, Lilly should long ago have been sitting at the piano, for in the house of Czepanek a quiet keyboard was a waste of time and a sin before the Lord. She had to practice four or five hours every day. Often when her father was seized by the holy spirit of creativeness and forgot the time set aside for her practicing, she did not begin until nearly midnight. Then she sat at the piano frozen, with heavy eyes, striking out in all directions until the small hours of the morning. Sometimes her mother found her the next day lying with her arms crossed on the keyboard in that profound child's sleep from which there is almost no rousing... Continue reading book >>




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