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Chapter XII

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  26 May 2022

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Summary

In the days that followed, Anneliese was often at the small house in Villenstraße — on the flimsy pretense of “showing her daughter the ropes,” although Gitta quite unexpectedly revealed talents for domestic organization that neither Markus nor her mother would ever have expected. It went little noticed that Balduin had “gone private” more than ever, almost always leaving or returning to his secluded quarters by the back stairs. He truly enjoyed the stillness of the house as never before, its emptiness all around him. He was separated from the only sounds, a short distance away, by the padded double door of his father's study. Yet when he knew Branhardt was at home, that's where his attention was strangely drawn. As Balduin sat writing, he listened intently, straining to hear his father's familiar tread next door — the usual scraping of his chair — the dry cough after all his smoking that seemed to say to his pipe: “Now that's enough of you!” It seemed as though these things that caught his ear created an atmosphere around him, into which he bent deep, as though into a second room. He wrote more quickly and more animatedly — with an expression as if he were not only listening but also watching: as if, like theater curtains, the double door parted, until before him — on a stage before him, as it were — the entire interior of a human solitude were revealed, unnoticed by the person himself.

From day to day, however, Balduin tended to avoid his father, and so it was already high summer when Branhardt, encountering his son one day under the fruit trees, the scene of their great discussion, stopped beside him with one short question:

“You’re not going down to your lectures anymore, then?”

Balduin had been expecting that question for so long, working out the tone of voice he would answer in — perhaps too long, so he had lost some of the natural satisfaction with which he might have spontaneously exclaimed: “If you knew where I was coming from — and how I’m coming, how rich, how successful I’ve been, you wouldn't even ask whether I go down there!”

Without hesitation, he replied:

“No. Because now I know what I may choose.

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Anneliese's House , pp. 109 - 120
Publisher: Boydell & Brewer
Print publication year: 2021

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