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Chapter XVI

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  26 May 2022

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Summary

After a long sleep and a hearty breakfast at her parents’ seaside cottage, Gitta awakened with a burning interest in everything around her. Skirts tucked up and barefoot, she ranged through the water, searching diligently for starfish, crabs, mussels — even simple pebbles, wondrously shimmering in the brine, attracted her like jewelry — until the next morning had transformed her treasures, as if they were still mysteriously bound to the sea, into something quite unsightly — which only made her more eager for the magic of the sea. Most magical of all for her was the marvel of the jellyfish, which seemed to reflect the lovely lines and colors of heaven and earth in their infinite intricacies of light blue, crimson, pale green, deep violet, or sun-bright hues. Like someone who goes to the theater or learns of tragic turns of fate, Gitta was caught up in the dramatic fortunes of the seaside jellyfish. There was a day for each kind of sea dweller. Depending on the weather, the starfish, the jellyfish, or even blue mussels lay on the beach. Then, suddenly, giant colonies of jellyfish would cover the sand, by the hundreds of thousands — and, while in the infinite waves they had all lived the same existence, it was only in this close community that they met the most varied range of fates: some drawn mercifully back to the bosom of the sea; some broken up under human tread; others slowly sucked down into the sand, leaving only a rune-like imprint as a mysterious inscription. Gitta could devote hours on end to these creatures marked by fate.

Sometimes, she would lie face down, somewhere by the water, intent upon thinking through her “marriage mistake,” as she called her complex situation. But, after a while, she would find herself propped up on her hands, fascinated by the remarkable leaps of the sand fleas or, at most, baking the finest little cakes out of the moist sand — identical copies of Frau Lüdecke’s.

At the outset, Anneliese had thought it was partly Gitta's heartache that made her turn to these childish pursuits and speak less and less of her marital situation.

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Anneliese's House , pp. 157 - 166
Publisher: Boydell & Brewer
Print publication year: 2021

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