Minna had been lucky enough to find quarters near Zurich which corresponded very closely with the wishes I had so emphatically expressed before leaving. The house was situated in the parish of Enge, a good fifteen minutes’ walk from the town, on a site overlooking the lake, and was an old-fashioned hostelry called ‘Zum Abendstern,’ belonging to a certain Frau Hirel, who was a pleasant old lady. The second floor, which was quite self-contained and very quiet, offered us humble but adequate accommodations for a modest rent.
I arrived early in the morning and found Minna still in bed. She was anxious to know whether I had returned simply out of pity; but I quickly succeeded in obtaining her promise that she would never again refer to what had taken place. She was soon quite herself again when she began to show me the progress she had made in arranging the rooms.
Our position had for some years been growing more comfortable, in spite of the fact that at this time various difficulties again arose, and our domestic happiness seemed tolerably secure. Yet I could never quite master a restless inclination to deviate from anything that was regarded as conventional.
Our two pets, Peps and Papo, largely helped to make our lodgings homelike; both were very fond of me, and were sometimes even too obtrusive in showing their affection. Peps would always lie behind me in the armchair while I was working, and Papo, after repeatedly calling out ‘Richard’ in vain, would often come fluttering into my study if I stayed away from the sitting-room too long. He would then settle down on my desk and vigorously shuffle about the papers and pens. He was so well trained that he never uttered the ordinary cry of a bird, but expressed his sentiments only by talking or singing. As soon as he heard my step on the staircase he would begin whistling a tune, as, for instance, the great march in the finale of the Symphony in C minor, the beginning of the Eighth Symphony in F major, or even a bright bit out of the Rienzi Overture. Peps, our little dog, on the other hand, was a highly sensitive and nervous creature. My friends used to call him ‘Peps the petulant,’ and there were times when we could not speak to him even in the friendliest way without bringing on paroxysms of howls and sobs. These two pets of course helped very much to increase the mutual understanding between myself and my wife.
Unfortunately, there was one perpetual source of quarrel, arising from my wife’s behaviour towards poor Nathalie. Until her death she shamefully withheld from the girl the fact that she was her mother. Nathalie, therefore, always believed that she was Minna’s sister, and consequently could not understand why she should not have the same rights as my wife, who always treated her in an authoritative way, as a strict mother would do, and seemed to think herself justified in