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Galgenberg, Dec. 12th.
Dear Mr. Anstruther,—I must write to-night, though it is late, to tell you of my speechless surprise when I came in an hour ago and found you had been here. I knew you had the moment I came in. At once I recognized the smell of the cigarettes you smoke. I went upstairs and called Johanna, for I was not sure that you were not still here, in the parlor, and frankly I was not going down if you were, for I do not choose to have my fastnesses stormed. She told me of your visit; how you had come up on foot soon after Vicki and Joey and I had started off for an afternoon's tobogganing on the hills, how you had stayed talking to Papa, and talking and talking, till you had to hurry down to catch the last train. 'And he bade me greet you for him,' finished Johanna. 'Indeed?' said I.
Do you like winter excursions into the country? Is Berlin boring you already? I shook my head in grave disapproval as Johanna proceeded with her tale. I am all for a young man's attending to his business and not making sudden wild journeys that take him away for a whole day and most of a night. Papa was delighted, I must say, to have had at last, as he told me with disconcerting warmth, at last after all these months an intelligent conversation, but with his delight the success of your visit ends, for when I heard of it I was not delighted at all. Why did you go into the kitchen? Johanna says you would go, and then that you went out hatless at the back door and down to the bottom of the garden and that you stood there leaning against the fence as though it were summer. 'Still without a hat,' said Johanna, in her turn shaking her head, 'bei dieser Kälte.'
Bei dieser Kälte, indeed. Yes; what made you do it? I am glad I was out, for I do not care to look on while the usually reasonable behave unaccountably. I don't think I can be friends with you for a little after this. I think I really must quarrel, for it isn't very decent to drop unexpectedly upon a person who from time to time has told you with the frankness that is her most marked feature that she doesn't want to be dropped upon. No doubt you wished to see Papa as well, and, on your way through Jena, Professor Martens; but I will not pretend to suppose your call was not chiefly intended for me, for it is to me and not to either of those wiser ones that you have written every day for months past. You are a strange young man. Heaven knows what you have accustomed yourself to imagining me to be. I almost wish now that you had seen me when I came in from our violent exercise, a touzled, short-skirted, heated person. It might have cured you. I forgot to look in the glass, but of course my hair and eyelashes were as white with hoar-frost as Vicki's and Joey's, and from beneath them and from above my turned-up collar must have emerged just such another glowing nose. Even Papa was struck by my appearance—after having gazed, I suppose, for hours on your composed correctness—and remarked that living in the country did not necessarily mean a complete return to savage nature.
The house feels very odd to-night. So do I. It feels haunted. So do I. I want to scold you, and yet I cannot. I have the strangest desire to cry. It is the thought that you came this long way, toiled up this long hill, waited those long hours, all to see some one who is glad to have missed you, that makes me want to. The night is so black outside my window, and somewhere through that blackness you are travelling at this moment, disappointed, across the endless frozen fields and forests that you must go through inch by inch before you reach Berlin. Why did you do a thing so comfortless? And here have I actually begun to cry,—I think because it is so dark, and you are not yet home.
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