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Galgenberg, Dec. 1st.
Dear Mr. Anstruther,—It is strange to address this letter to Berlin, and to know that by the time it gets there you will be there too. Well, let it welcome you very heartily back to the Fatherland. I think I know the street you are in; it is facing the Thiergarten, isn't it, and looks north? Quite close to the Brandenburg Thor? I remember it because we trudged, among other places, also about the Thiergarten on our memorable visit, and Papa's eye caught the name of your street and he stood for ten minutes in the rain giving us a spirited sketch of the man's life and claims to have a street called after him. My step-mother waited with a grim patience, her skirts firmly clutched in each hand. She had come to sight-see and to have things explained to her, so that it would be waste of a railway fare not to look and listen. Papa was in great splendor that day, so obviously superior, in the universatility of his knowledge, to either of us damp womenfolk. You won't get much sun there unless your rooms are at the back, but on the other hand it is undoubtedly a street for the exclusive and well-to-do, as even I could see to whom marble steps and wrought-iron gates convey the usual lesson. I, however, would sooner live in a kennel facing south than in a palace where the sun never came; but then, as you know, my tendencies are incurably kennelwards.
Today I am humble and hanging my head, for I have discovered to my pain and horror that Papa and I are living well beyond our income. I expect we have bought too many books, and spent too much in stamps to be used by publishers; but it is certain that we've already consumed over seventy pounds of our yearly hundred, and that we only took five months to do it in. What do you think of that? We have been squandering money right and left somehow. There were no clothes to buy, for what we have will last us at least two years, and where it has all gone to I can't imagine. Indeed I am a useless person if I cannot even manage a tiny house like this and make such sufficient means do. Papa has written to Professor Martens to tell him he is willing to take in a young man again. Willing? He is eager, hungry for a young man, for he sees that without one things will go badly with us. And I, remembering the wealth we enjoyed while Mr. Collins was with us, have written to him to ask if he cares to come back and finish learning German. I don't know if he still wants to, or rather if his father still wants him to, for German to Joey was as the fly in the apothecary's ointment, in its extreme offensiveness, nor have I told Papa that I wrote, because of the peculiar horror with which he regards Joey; but I couldn't resist when I know that six months of Joey would deliver us for two whole years from all young men whatever, and I hope when the time comes, if it ever does, and Joey with it, to persuade Papa by judicious argument of the eminent desirability of this particular young man.
There are, however, certain difficulties in the way. Our house has two bedrooms, two sitting-rooms, an attic, a kitchen, and a coal-hole. Johanna inhabits the attic. One sitting-room is sacred to Papa and his work. The other is a scrap room in which we have our meals and receive Frau von Lindeberg when she calls, and I write letters and read books and darn stockings. Where, then, will Joey sleep? The answer is as clear as daylight and very startling: Joey must sleep with Papa. Now that this truth has dawned upon me I spend hours lost in thoughts of things like screens and dividing curtains, besides preparing elaborate speeches for the bringing of Papa to reason. He himself was the first to declare we must positively take in a young man again, and he surely will see, when it is pointed out to him, that any one we have must sleep at the intervals appointed by nature. I'm afraid he'll see it in the case of every one except the fruitful Joey. It is most unfortunate that Joey should be so foolish about Goethe, for we really do want somebody who doesn't mind about money, and I remember several poor boys in the past who were so very poor that on the days when my step-mother demanded payment I used to have to go out early and wander among the hills till evening, unable to endure the sound of the thalers being wrung out of them. Oh, money is the most horrid of all necessities. I am ashamed to think of the many bright hours of life soiled by anxieties about it, by meannesses about it. Wherever even a question of it arises Love and the Graces fly affrighted, followed closely, by the entire troop of equally terrified Muses, out of the nearest window. I detest it. I do not want it. But with all my defiance of it I am crushed beneath the yoke of the penny as completely as everybody else. Well do I know that penny, and how much it is when there's one over, and what worlds away when there's one too few.
Here comes Johanna to lay the dinner. We are rankly vegetarian again, Papa leading the way with immense determination, for he has set his heart at this unfortunate juncture on a new biography of Goethe that must needs come out just now, a big thing in two volumes costing a terrible number of marks, very well done, full of the result of original digging among archives; but he dare not buy it, he says, in the present state of our affairs. 'Dost thou not think, Rose-Marie,' he said, his face in grievous puckers at the prospect, 'that a renewed and careful course of herbage may quickly-set the matter right?'
'Not quickly,' said I, shaking my head, and pondering privately what, exactly, he meant by the word renewed.
He looked crestfallen.
'But ultimately,' I said, wishing to cheer him.
'Ultimately—ultimately,' he echoed peevishly. 'The word has a knell-like sound about it that I do not like. When we have reached thy Ultimately I shall no longer be in a state to desire or appreciate Bielschowsky's Goethe. My brain, by then, will be clothed with grass, and my veins be streams of running water.'
'Well, darling,' said I, putting my arm through his, 'you'll be at least very nice and refreshing, and extraordinarily like a verse of the Psalms.'
And for two days he has held out undaunted, and here comes our lentil soup and roast apples, so good-by.
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