and a songbook. She reached for them, because
she had to have something before which she could kneel
down and pray. She laid both Bible and songbook
on the edge of the table where Annie had been standing,
and threw herself violently down before them and spoke
in a half audible tone: “O God in Heaven,
forgive me what I have done. I was a child—No,
no, I was not a child, I was old enough to know what
I was doing. I did
know, too, and I will
not minimize my guilt. But this is too much.
This action of the child is not the work of my God
who would punish me, it is the work of him
alone. I thought he had a noble
heart and have always felt small beside him, but now
I know that it is he who is small. And because
he is small he is cruel. Everything that is small
is cruel. He
taught the child to say that.
He always was a school-master, Crampas called him
one, scoffingly at the time, but he was right.
’Oh, certainly if I am allowed to!’ You
to be allowed to. I don’t
want you any more, I hate you both, even my own child.
Too much is too much. He was ambitious, but nothing
more. Honor, honor, honor. And then he shot
the poor fellow whom I never even loved and whom I
had forgotten, because I didn’t love him.
It was all stupidity in the first place, but then
came blood and murder, with me to blame. And now
he sends me the child, because he cannot refuse a minister’s
wife anything, and before he sends the child he trains
it like a parrot and teaches it the phrase, ‘if
I am allowed to.’ I am disgusted at what
I did; but the thing that disgusts me most is your
virtue. Away with you! I must live, but
I doubt if it will be long.”
When Roswitha came back Effi lay on the floor seemingly
lifeless, with her face turned away.
Rummschuettel was called and pronounced Effi’s
condition serious. He saw that the hectic flush
he had noticed for over a year was more pronounced
than ever, and, what was worse, she showed the first
symptoms of nervous fever. But his quiet, friendly
manner, to which he added a dash of humor, did Effi
good, and she was calm so long as Rummschuettel was
with her. When he left, Roswitha accompanied him
as far as the outer hall and said: “My,
how I am scared, Sir Councillor; if it ever comes
back, and it may—oh, I shall never have
another quiet hour. But it was too, too much,
the way the child acted. Her poor Ladyship!
And still so young; at her age many are only beginning
“Don’t worry, Roswitha. It may all
come right again. But she must get away.
We will see to that. Different air, different