From this hour I could not banish Emilia from my mind. School, formerly so much feared, now became my favorite abiding place, because there only could I see her; Sundays and holidays, which separated me from her, were as hateful to me as they would otherwise have been welcome; I was genuinely unhappy if she happened to stay away. She hovered before me wherever I went and I never grew tired of repeating her name softly to myself when I was alone; her black eyebrows and her very rosy lips, in particular, were always present before me; on the other hand, I do not remember that her voice made any impression upon me, although later everything, for me, depended upon that.
It can easily be understood that I soon gained out of all this the reputation of being the most constant attendant at school and the best pupil. I felt rather strangely about it though, for I knew very well that it was not the primer which attracted me to Susanna’s, and that it was not in order to learn to read quickly that I spelled away so busily. However, no one must ever be allowed to divine what was going on with me, and least of all Emilia. I avoided her most anxiously, so as, by any and all means, to keep from betraying myself. When the games in common nevertheless brought us together, I was hostile toward her rather than in the least friendly. I pulled her back hair in order to touch her at least for once, and hurt her in doing it, so as not to arouse suspicion. Once, however, nature forcibly asserted itself, because put to too severe a test. One afternoon in the romping hour which always preceded lessons—for the children assembled slowly and Susanna liked to take a midday nap—a distressing sight greeted me as I entered the school-room; Emilia was being ill-treated by a boy, and he was one of my best comrades. He pulled her about and buffeted her lustily, and I bore it, though not without great difficulty and with ever increasing, silent exasperation. At last, however, he drove her into a corner, and when he let her out again, her mouth was bleeding, probably because he had scratched her somewhere. Then I could control myself no longer, the sight of the blood drove me mad, I fell upon him, threw him to the ground and gave him back his thumps and slaps double and threefold. But Emilia, far from being grateful to me, herself called for aid and assistance for her enemy when I showed no signs of desisting, and thus betrayed involuntarily that she liked him better than the avenger. Susanna, awakened from her slumbers by the noise, hurried to the scene and, naturally being cross and angry, demanded strict account of my sudden outburst of rage. What I stammered and stuttered forth in excuse was incomprehensible and foolish, and thus I received a rude chastisement as a reward for my first gallant service. My affection for Emilia lasted until my eighteenth year and passed through very many phases; I must therefore often refer to it again.