“I shall write to his mother,” Angelika said. “She shall know all about it, so that she may understand for what he is responsible.”
This they thought reasonable, and Angelika sat down and wrote. She frequently showed agitation, but she went on quickly, steadily, sheet after sheet. Just then came a ring—a messenger with a letter. The maid brought it in. Her mistress was about to take it, but it was not for her; it was for Angelika—they both recognised Rafael’s careless handwriting.
Angelika opened it—grew crimson; for he wrote that the result of his most serious considerations was, that neither she nor her children should be injured by him. He was an honourable man who would bear his own responsibilities, not let others be burdened by them.
Angelika handed the letter to her friend, then tore up the one which she had been writing, and left the house.
Her friend stood thinking to herself—The good that is in us must go bail for the evil, so we must rest and be satisfied.
The discovery which she had made had often been made before, but it was none the less true.
The next day they were married. That night, long after his wife had fallen into her usual healthy sleep, Rafael thought sorrowfully of his lost Paradise. He could not sleep. As he lay there he seemed to look out over a meadow, which had no springtime, and therefore no flowers. He retraced the events of the past day. His would be a marred life which had never known the sweet joys of courtship.
Angelika did not share his beliefs. She was a stern realist, a sneering sceptic, in the most literal sense a cynic.
Her even breathing, her regular features, seemed to answer him. “Hey-dey, my boy, we shall be merry for a thousand years! Better sleep now, you will need sleep if you mean to try which of us is the stronger.”
The next day their marriage was the marvel of the town and neighbourhood.
“Just like his mother!” people exclaimed; “what promise there was in her! She might have chosen so as to have been now in one of the best positions in the country—when, lo and behold! she went and made the most idiotic marriage. The most idiotic? No, the son’s is more idiotic still.” And so on and so forth.
Most people seem naturally impelled to exalt the hero of the hour higher than they themselves intend, and when a reaction comes, to decry him in an equal degree. Few people see with their own eyes, and on special occasions even magnifying or diminishing glasses are called into play with most amusing results.
“Rafael Kaas a handsome fellow?—well, yes, but too big, too fair, no repose, altogether too restless. Rich? He? He has not a stiver! The savings eaten up long ago, nothing coming in, they have been encroaching on their capital for some time; and the beds of cement stone—who the deuce would join with him in any large undertaking? They talk about his gifts, his genius even; but is he very highly gifted? Is it anything more than what he has acquired? The saving of motive power at the factory? Was that anything more than a mere repetition of what he had done before?—and that, of course, only what he had seen elsewhere.”