The German Classics of the Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries, Volume 09 eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 647 pages of information about The German Classics of the Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries, Volume 09.

Behind the house was a small yard, adjoining which was Susanna’s little garden.  During recess we played our games in the yard; the garden was kept locked up from us.  It was full of flowers, whose fantastic shapes I can still see swaying in the sultry summer wind.  Susanna, when in a good humor, used sometimes to pluck a few of these flowers for us, not, however, until it was nearly time for them to fade; before that she would not rob of a particle of their adornment the neatly laid-out, carefully-weeded beds, between which ran footpaths that hardly seemed wide enough for the birds to hop on.  Susanna, moreover, distributed her gifts with great partiality.  The children of well-to-do parents received the best and were allowed to give voice to their desires, which were frequently lacking in modesty, without being reproved; the poorer had to be satisfied with what remained, and received nothing at all if they did not await the act of grace in silence.  This was most flagrantly apparent at Christmas time.  Then a great distribution of cakes and nuts took place, but in most faithful adherence to the words of the Gospel:  “To him who hath, shall be given.”  The daughters of the parish clerk, a mightily respected person, the sons of the doctor, and so forth, were loaded with half-dozens of cakes, with whole handkerchiefs full of nuts; on the contrary the poor devils whose prospects for Christmas Eve, unlike those of the rich children, were entirely dependent upon Susanna’s charitable hands, were scantily portioned off.  The reason was that Susanna counted upon return gifts, doubtless was forced to count upon them, and could not expect any from people who even had difficulty in getting together the school-money.  I was not entirely neglected, as Susanna received her tribute from our pear-tree regularly every autumn, and besides, on account of my “good head,” I enjoyed a sort of advantage over many of the others.  Nevertheless I too felt the difference, and in especial had much to suffer from the maid-servant, who put a spiteful construction upon my most innocent actions; for example, she once interpreted the pulling out of my handkerchief as a sign that I wished to have it filled, which drove the most burning blushes to my cheeks and tears to my eyes.  As soon as I became conscious of Susanna’s partiality and the injustice of her maid I stepped outside the magic circle of childhood.  It occurred very early.


Two incidents which took place in this school-room are still vividly present before me.  I remember, to begin with, that I received there my first awful impression of nature and the invisible power which prophetic man surmises behind it.  The child has a period, which lasts a fairly long time, when it believes that the whole world is subject to its parents, at least to the father who always remains standing somewhat mysteriously in the background, and when it would be just as likely to beg them for good weather

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The German Classics of the Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries, Volume 09 from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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