BY ANDRÉ MAUROIS
[Translated by George L. Howe]
THE Frankfort diligence stopped at the ‘Geist.’ A German student set down his luggage, astounded the innkeeper by refusing dinner, and rushed toward the Cathedral like a madman. The sextons, as they watched him climb the tower, looked at each other anxiously. He was handsome and well dressed, but his gesture was wild and he muttered to himself.
The gabled roofs, in waves, topped the dry, the pure lines of the castle of the Rohans. Under the noon sun flashed the Alsatian plain, pricked with villages and vines. At the very moment, in every hamlet, girls were dreaming, women hoping. As he looked at the virgin canvas, where already his desire sketched so many various and happy visions, he sipped the joy of amorous hope, the expectation sweet and vague, so keen in youth, so obstinate in age.
He often returned to the tower. The roof overhung its supports. He might have been floating in the blue. At first there was a little dizziness. Still morbid and nervous from a sickly boyhood, he dreaded heights, and noises, and the dark. He must cure his weakness.
The vast plain was a tablet without message for his heart, but slowly it marked out memories and names. Now, at a glance, he saw Zabern, where Weyland had brought him, and Drusenheim, whence stretches, on lovely meadow, the path to Sesenheim. And there, in a peasant parsonage set among gardens and smothered in jasmine, lived charming Frederica Brion.
Behind the castle turrets, behind the hills, off on the horizon, the dark clouds were heaping. The student’s eye descended to the moving figures which wound through the alleys a hundred yards below. How he longed to penetrate their lives! Outwardly, to be sure, they were different lives, but inwardly they joined in mysterious unions. To lift the roofs from the houses! To be the unseen witness of those surprising secrets by which man can alone be understood! The day before, at the Marionetten-Theater, he had seen the legend of Doctor Faust. Now, as he watched the hurrying clouds climb the steeple above him, it was as if Faust himself were snatching him up.
‘What should I do? If the Devil offered me power, and treasures, and women, in change for the oath, should I sign?’ And, trying his conscience freely and briefly, ‘I should not sign,’ he whispered, ‘to own the whole world, but to Understand — yes, I should sign. My friend, you are too inquisitive.’
It began to rain, so he went back to the narrow winding staircase. ‘Write another Faust? There are lots of them already. But Spiess and poor old Widmann are not much good. Their Faust is a cheap rascal, damned by his baseness from the start. Hell is cheated, for it would have got him anyway. But mine — mine would be great. He would be a sort of Prometheus. He might be beaten by the gods, perhaps, but at least he would have tried to grasp their secret.’
Below, the glass poured into the Cathedral a sombre and velvet light. Here and there a woman knelt in the shadow. Vaguely, touched by a gentle hand, murmured the organ. Goethe looked up at the vault. He felt often that he was one with a beautiful tree, that he entered its perfect scheme, and his thoughts would rise like sap, spread to the branches, break forth in leaves, in flowers, in fruit. The vast unanimous arches of the nave called up the same manifold and magnificent fancy.
‘Everything here has its purpose, its proportion, as in the work of Nature. Ah! to write books like cathedrals! If only you could utter all that you feel! If you could fix upon paper that fire which courses through you! ‘
As soon as he drew back thus within himself, lo! here was a whole world. He had just discovered Shakespeare; he admired him as a man measures his rival. Why should he not be the German Shakespeare? He had the genius; he knew he had the genius. But how could he chain it, or to what shape could he force the spirit? He longed to see his emotion captive at last, firm as the mighty vaults. Their architect too, long before, had doubted and despaired among those dream cathedrals which precede the true.
He would not lack subjects: the story of Chevalier Götz von Berlichingen, Faust again, idylls, German and rustic, in the tone of a modern Theocritus. . . . Perhaps a Mahomet. . . . Perhaps a Prometheus. Any hero would suit through whom he could challenge the world. Nor did he dread the titanic task of copying his heroes from himself, or giving them life with the breath of his own spirit. . . . Perhaps a Cæsar.
One life would not be enough for so many plans. Herder, the Master, had told him he had the ‘character of a fluttering bird.’ But to fill out the beautiful empty frames one needed memories and passions. One must live, and live a thousand lives. ‘Not the being, ‘ he repeated to himself, ‘ but the becoming, the becoming everything.'
Not to be anything? Not even husband of the charming Frederica? . . . No, not even that.
Then he thought of her tears. After all, had he the right to leave her when he had shown the world that he would marry her? When even her father, the pastor, had welcomed him as a son?
‘The right? All is fair in love. After all, the adventure was as amusing for her as for me. She must have known that Councilor Goethe’s son could never marry a pretty farm-girl. Does she think my hither would ever have consented ? Could she have been happy in a sphere so different from her own?’
‘Sophistry! Betray her, but betray her frankly. The Councilor’s son is no better than the pastor’s daughter. My mother was poorer than Frederica. And as for the “different sphere,” she was superb this winter when she danced on the waxed floors of the ballrooms of Strassburg. ‘
‘You are right, but what is there to do? I cannot, no I cannot, marry her. I should imprison myself. One’s first duty is to develop one’s character and capacities. I must remain Goethe. And when I speak that name I mean all that it prophesies. My virtues, my failings, all of them are good, because they are all natural. I was right to love Frederica, because then love was in my heart. But if one day I must escape, to better myself, escape will still be Goethe, and will still be right.’
At that he thought of Frederica, crying by the road, and himself, his head sunk, riding off without daring to look back.
‘What a scene for a Faust!' he thought.
A parchment with a red seal made a lawyer of the student. Frederica, who had been deserted, wept. Doctor Goethe’s horse trotted toward Frankfort, where skating and philosophy would quiet his uneasy conscience. When spring came round, Herr Councilor Goethe felt that a bench in the Imperial Tribunal at Wetzlar would be the final crown to his son’s legal studies.
The chief princes of Germany maintained embassies to this pompous and sordid ghost of an oracle, and thus created in its provincial town a small, a pleasant, and an idle society. When Goethe reached the Kronprinz Inn, he found a table d’hôte noisy with young attachés and secretaries. From their first words he found himself among the mental scenery that was dear.
Europe was passing through one of its crises of intellectual unrest. For nine years its kings had lived in peace; its antique constitutions were still able to avert revolt. But from the contrast between the yearnings of the young and the stagnation of the old was springing a wave of impatience and disgust, that melancholia of the eras of peace and transition which was called then, as it is called now, the Curse of the Age. The young attachés of Wetzlar were afflicted like all their contemporaries. They sought in their numerous books, in Rousseau, in Herder, the course their hearts should follow. And while they waited for the answer, they drank.
Doctor Goethe delighted them. He was like them, but superior to them. Like them, he repeated at. every turn, ‘Nature. Respect Nature. Live in Nature.’ For Nature was the keyword of the time, as Reason had been in the generation before; as Liberty, then Sincerity, then Violence, then Justice, were to be in the generations ahead. But to Goethe Nature was more than a word. He lived in Nature, he joined himself to her, and received her with a sort of reckless joy. While his new friends, the diplomats and lovers of letters, locked themselves in their rooms to pretend, at least, to work. Goethe, boldly publishing his contempt for the Imperial Tribunal and his firm purpose of learning the Common Law only from Homer and Pindar, set out each morning with a book under his arm for the fair meadows of Wetzlar. The spring was divine. On the fields and in the lowlands the trees were great nosegays of white or pink. Lying in the tall grass beside a brook, Goethe dreamed about the countless little plants, the insects, or the blue sky. After the torments of Strassburg, the hesitation and remorse of Frankfort, suddenly came an astounding calm, an unheralded vigor.
He opened his Homer. The modern, the human side of the tale absorbed him. Yonder girls round the fountain were Nausicaa and her virgins. A woman was cooking green peas and beef in the kitchen of an inn; that was the banquet of the suitors in the kitchen of Penelope. Men do not change; heroes are not marble. Their skin is hairy and furrowed, their hands are swollen and mobile. Within the hands of the Olympians, we, like the godlike Ulysses, drift at sea, hung in a little skiff above the gulf. How fearful that thought, yet how sweet, when you lie on your back amid the caressing grass, and search heaven with your eyes!
Soon it became the great delight of the Kronprinz Table Round to hear Doctor Goethe tell the day’s discoveries. There might be a verse of Pindar, or the laborious sketch of a country church, or the beautiful lindens of a village square, or some children, or a pretty farm-girl. He had the gift of charging his stories with an almost childlike excitement which made the smallest detail interesting. As soon as he entered, the pace of Life seemed to grow fast. Conversation so wild and so impetuous would be unbearable from anyone else, but how could they resist this torrent or withstand this whirlwind? ‘Ah, Goethe,’one of the young men told him, ‘one is forced to love you.’ Before long all Wetzlar wished to know him.
Two of the secretaries, bachelors, dwelt at the outer borders of the Table Round. One, a youth of great beauty, whose eyes were blue, and soft, and sad, bore the name of Jerusalem. He kept himself aloof, they said, because of an unlucky love for the wife of one of his colleagues. Once or twice he called on Goethe, who was interested in his pessimism. But Jerusalem was so very reserved as to prevent any lasting friendship.
The other hermit was Kestner, from the embassy of Hanover. When his friends spoke of him, they always called him ‘The Fiancé.’ In fact, he passed as being engaged to one of the girls in town. He was extremely serious: his chief thought well of him, and, in spite of his youth, left him large responsibility. So he could not often come to dine at the Kronprinz. At first, because the wits of the diplomatic circle lauded the newcomer, Kestner mistrusted Goethe. But on a day when he happened to be walking through the country with a friend, they found Goethe under a tree. At once the conversation became profound, and after two or three meetings even Kestner owned that he had met a genius.
Admired by his comrades, free of temporal or scholastic care, enraptured by the beauty of the spring, Goethe was happy. As a shiver skims a quiet lake, sometimes a fleeting trouble touched his delight. Frederica? No, it was not the memory of her that passed over the quiet warmth of his thought. It was, again, an expectation, an anxiety. He gazed at Wetzlar from the hills, as once, from the Cathedral, he had gazed at Alsace. ‘Will it come to me to tremble one day when I open a door? Shall I ever forget the verses I read in the vision of a distant face? Under the moonlight, when I say farewell, will absence ever seem too long, or dawn too far away? Yes, all that will come, I know. . . . And yet . . . Frederica.’
He noted down something he remembered : ‘ In the days when I was little, I chanced to plant a cherry tree. I loved to wateh it grow. Then the spring frost killed its buds. I had to wait for another year before I could see ripe cherries on my tree. Next the birds ate them, then a greedy neighbor. And yet, if ever I have another garden, I shall plant a cherry tree again.’
That is how Doctor Goethe roamed beneath the buds, afire with his new love. He knew all about it, except the lady’s name.
In the fine weather the young people at the legations would organize barn dances. Some came on horseback, others drove the damsels of Wetzlar to the village inn where they were to meet. The first time Goethe was invited to one of these festivities it was agreed that he and two girls should stop for Fräulein Charlotte Buff, whom they all called Lotte. She was the daughter of old Herr Buff, officer of the Teutonic Order. She lived in the pleasant white cottage where the Order had its headquarters.
Goethe got out of the carriage, passed under the stone doorway, and crossed an almost baronial courtyard. Since no one was about, he went into the house.
A young girl was standing among a group of children. She was giving them tarts. She was blue-eyed and blonde, but her features were not regular. A strict judge might hardly have found her pretty. But all his life a man pursues among the race of women the type which, however mysterious the reason, alone can move him. What struck Goethe was a rustic grace, a sort of intimate and domestic lightness. From Strassburg, Frederica had already proved a bucolic muse. Now Nausicaa, laundress and princess, might likewise continue that virginal prolific lineage.
What Charlotte said on the way out, her response to the presence of Nature, her childlike pleasure at the dance, and the competence with which, during a storm, she calmed her companions by little games, completed her conquest of the Doctor. To his delight he recognized that he had just found the woman he had loved for a fortnight. Lotte, too, saw that she had pleased him, and was happy. For a month her friends had spoken of no one but this magnificent Intelligence. She was the flirt an honest woman alone can be — a dangerous flirt.
Later on in the evening Kestner, who, as usual, had been delayed by his work, — for he was meticulous, copying every letter and never letting the Hanover post go without reading over and signing his dispatch, — rode out to join his friends. By his attitude and the girl’s, Goethe understood that Lotte Buff was the famous fiancée. The discovery took him aback, but he mastered himself and continued to dance and to amuse himself and the others.
The dance lasted till sunrise. Goethe brought his three companions back in silence, across misty woods and fields refreshed from the storm. The others slept, but Charlotte and he sat erect. ‘But please,’ she begged, ‘don’t put yourself out for me.’
He looked at her. ‘While I see your eyes open,’ he answered, ‘I can never close my own.’
After this they did not speak. When Goethe moved, he would brush the girl’s warm knees, and the slight contact was one of the greatest pleasures he had ever known. The beauty of the dawn, their astounding happiness, and the somewhat absurd slumbers of the others made them feel like confederates in some delightful plot.
‘Unquestionably,’ thought Goethe, ‘I love her. But how is that possible? Even now, at Sesenheim — What of that ? One love withers, another blooms, and it is Nature’s course. But if she is Kestner’s fiancée, what hope have I? Do I even need hope? Seeing her, watching her move among the children, speaking to her, hearing her laugh — that would be enough. What will come of it all? Who can say? And why try to foresee the end of anything? One must live like a running brook.’
Finally, when the carriage stopped before the Order’s headquarters, he was bewitched.
The next day he called on Nausicaa and made the acquaintance of Alcinous. Old Herr Buff had lost his wife a year before, but he had eleven children, over whom Lotte exercised a benevolent tyranny. As might have been expected, Goethe won the hearts of the patriarch and his children at this very first visit. He told stories, he invented new games. In all that he said or did there was something boyish and persuasive which captivated them.
When he left, all the little clan begged him to come back soon. A smile from Lotte confirmed the invitation. Goethe returned the next day. He had no office to keep him away. There was no greater joy than the presence of Lotte and he was not the man to refuse pleasure when he could take it. They saw him morning and evening. In a few days he became a permanent, guest at the house.
Charlotte’s life did make a spectacle worth watching. Goethe found in her just what he had so liked in Frederica: an energy practical because of its purpose and poetic because of a sort of easy lightness in all that she did. She worked from morning till night. She washed the small ones, she dressed them, she taught them games, at the same time that she directed, ably and modestly, the studies of the older ones. She took Goethe into the orchard to pick fruit; she set him to work shelling peas and stringing beans. At sunset all the family met in the living-room, where, at Charlotte’s command, — for she never left her friends uselessly idle, — Goethe tuned the harpsichord.
Lotte was not sentimental. She was sensitive, but was too busy to have either time or desire to toy with sentiment. Her talks with Goethe were instructive and serious. He spoke of his life, of his religious beliefs; sometimes, too, of Homer or Shakespeare. She was wise enough to see the merit of the companion who had attached himself to her daily life. In all that he said she sensed emotion and even love. That pleased her, but did not disturb. She knew that her own heart was fixed.
As for The Fiancé, he was a little sad. His devotion to diplomacy kept him away almost all day long. When he did reach Lotte’s house, there was Goethe sitting at her feet and holding a skein of wool. Or else he would find them in a corner of the garden, choosing flowers for a bouquet. They picked on energetically and included him in their conversation. Nor did his arrival even produce the silence of guilt. Nevertheless, Kestner divined that Goethe was not overhappy to see him. He would rather have stayed alone with Charlotte, but Goethe, fortified by a standing invitation, was in no hurry to go. Since they were philosophers and friends, they hid this deplorable feeling, but each of them was on his guard.
Kestner was the more dismayed because he was modest. He admired his rival greatly. He considered him handsome and witty. What was worse, Goethe had leisure, and it is a great advantage in the eyes of those eternal hermits of the home to be always at hand to save them from restlessness and fret.
The Fiancé would have been assured if he could have read the secret thought of his rival. Ever since his first visit he had known he would never be loved. A woman like Lotte does not sacrifice a Kestner to a Goethe. He could count on amusing them; that was a good deal. What else could he have asked? To marry her? That, to be sure, would make happiness certain. But it was a happiness he did not envy. No, he was satisfied as he was. In sitting at Charlotte’s feet, in seeing her play with her young brothers, in expecting her smile when he had done a favor or turned a phrase, in getting a little tap, light as a caress, when he had ventured too bold a compliment — in all the ordered, the limited life, he found a joy that had no limit.
The spring was warm. Everyone lived in his garden. In Goethe’s diary all the incidents of this calm and pure love appeared as little scenes from an idyll. He was building up. Not the masterpiece, perhaps, not the cathedral, but charming little Greek temples, strewn on a lovely landscape. What would come of it all? He had rather not think. More and more he accepted his own conduct as a natural phenomenon.
The evenings became even milder. When Kestner came the three friends would sit on the terrace and talk late into the night. Sometimes they walked under the moonlight through the orchards. They had attained that quality of perfect trust which gives such charm to conversation. No subject seemed trifling. They had for each other that affection, that mutual regard, which alone excuses naïveté.
Goethe talked most. Kestner and Lotte basked in the brilliance of his wit. He described his friends at Frankfort, Fräulein Von Klettenberg and Doctor Merck, a strange man, of evil eye and oily tongue, who delved for formulæ in the books of the mystics. He told how they had read the alchemists together and peopled the universe with sylphs, and water nymphs, and salamanders. A long time ago he had admired the Pietists. They had seemed less bound to vain rituals, more eager than others for a real and intimate faith. Then he had tired of them. ‘They are people of mediocre intelligence who imagine nothing but religion exists because they are ignorant of the rest of life. They are intolerant; they wish to make other people’s noses like their own. ‘
Goethe himself held there was no truth in the theory of an external God: ‘Believe that God is always beside you? That would embarrass me. I should feel as if the Great Elector were always there. I believe that God is inside me.’
Next to love, religion is the favorite topic of women. Lotte followed these conversations with a lively interest.
Often, after having left their friend at her house, Goethe and Kestner roamed on through the empty streets of Wetzlar. The moon threw down its hard shadows. Toward two in the morning Goethe, sitting on a wall, would declaim the most insane of verse. Sometimes they heard footsteps, and a moment after caught sight of Jerusalem. Slowly, alone, his head bent, he tramped along.
‘Ah!’ said Goethe. ‘The Lover!’
And he burst out laughing.
Spring gave place to summer and tenderness to passion. Lotte was too lovable, Goethe was too young. As they trod the narrow alleys of the garden, sometimes, for a moment, their bodies touched. Sometimes, as they unwound a skein or picked a bud, their hands met. The memory of such moments kept Goethe awake through long nights. He could hardly wait for the morning, which would lead him back to her. In every subtle shade of their sympathy he repeated the tremors he had once suffered from Frederica, and this returning calendar of love dismayed him.
‘When love comes back, it destroys its own quality, which is the expression of the Eternal and the Infinite.’ Since they too would come back, the life of man was only the comedy of a weary mortality.
When the heavy days of August cut short their little common tasks and left him for long hours at Charlotte’s feet, he grew bolder. One day he stole a kiss. Like an impeccable fiancée, she told Kestner.
The grave and tender secretary was in a hard position. He might have lost all by rebuking Lotte’s unconscious flirtation, by misplacing a single word. But Kestner, with the last perfection of a lover, could be tactful. He merely put his trust in Charlotte and left her, as she herself asked, the duty of leading Goethe back to the paths of propriety. That evening she begged the Doctor to stay after Kestner and warned him not to mistake her sentiments. She still loved her betrothed. She would never love another. Kestner, waiting for Goethe, saw him come sadly out, with head hanging, and felt that he was very happy, and very good, and very merciful.
From then on a strange and sweet confederacy united the three friends. Like Goethe, who repeated everything, Kestner and Charlotte began to disclose their feelings with the greatest liberty. Goethe’s love for Lotte was the topic of long and delightful chats on the terrace. They spoke of it as a phenomenon of Nature, at once dangerous and exciting. Goethe’s birthday was the same as Kestner’s. They exchanged presents. Kestner gave Goethe a little pocket Homer; Lotte gave him the pink ribbon she had worn at her bosom the day they met.
Kestner had considered sacrificing himself. He did not mention his scruples to the others, but noted them in his diary. Goethe was younger and more handsome and more brilliant than he. Perhaps he could make Lotte happier. But Lotte herself had sworn that she preferred him and had felt that Goethe, with all his spectacular charms, was hardly made to be a husband. And doubtless Kestner would not have dared, for he was deep in love.
Behind his gay and carefree air, Goethe suffered. His conceit smarted at her clear and immutable choice. Under the long temptation of their common life, his desire awoke. In moments of violent passion, even before the indulgent Kestner, he would seize Charlotte’s hands and cover them with kisses and tears.
But in the darkest moments of despair he knew that under this zone of heartfelt sorrow slumbered deep layers of calm where one day he might take refuge. As a man beaten by storms still knows that the sun is bright above the clouds and still reserves the coming of its ray, Goethe in his torment foresaw that soon he would conquer his woe, and even, in recalling it, would thrill to some bitter and sombre joy.
The evenings became shorter and cooler. The rose of September fell. Goethe’s satanic friend, the brilliant Merck, came to Wetzlar. He met Charlotte and found her charming. But he did not tell Goethe so. With a shrug of indifference, he counseled flight to other loves. The Doctor, a little nettled, agreed that the time had come to tear himself from a fruitless and waning passion. To the man it was still delightful to live in Charlotte’s shadow, to feel the rustle of her dress at night, to win from her tiny proofs of affection stolen under the silent vigilance of Kestner, but the artist was sated with his redundant emotion. He had drawn spiritual riches from his sojourn; he had collected some lovely landscapes full of sentiment, but the lode was exhausted, the harvest reaped, and he must go.
‘Must I depart? I change my mind like the vane on the steeple. The world is so fair! Happy he who can savor it without effort. Often I regret that I cannot, and preach myself sermons on the art of enjoying the present.’
But the world called him: the world, of infinite promise. ‘Do not try to be anything; try to become everything.’ He had his work to do, his cathedral to build. What would it be like? The answer did not come. It was veiled in the mists of the future. And it was to this uncertain image that he was to sacrifice his present joy! He forced himself to choose the day of departure. His decision being fixed, he could abandon himself with delicious fury to his passion.
His friends had agreed to meet him in the garden after dinner. He waited for them on the terrace under the chestnuts. They would come with gayety and friendliness; they would treat this evening like an ordinary one. But it was the last! Goethe, Captain of Fates, had decided; nothing could change his decree. It was painful to go, but it was sweet to find one’s self inflexible.
From his mother he had inherited so intense a horror of scenes that he could not bear the idea of a formal good-bye. He wished to pass this last evening with his friends in a calm and sober gayety. He savored in advance the pathos of their conversation, where two, in ignorance of the real situation, would unwittingly wound the third, who, being alone aware, could alone be hurt.
He had been drifting among such fancies for some time when he heard on the sand the steps of Charlotte and Kestner. Running up to them, he kissed her hand. They walked together to a dark pocket of verdure which terminated the alley, and sat down in the dark. Under the pale moonlight, the garden was so beautiful that for a long time they were silent. Then Charlotte said, ‘I never walk in the moonlight without thinking of death. I believe that we shall rise. But, Goethe, shall we meet? Shall we know each other? What do you think? ‘
' What are you saying, Charlotte? ‘ he answered, in agony. ‘We shall meet. In this life or the next we shall meet again! ‘
‘Do the friends that we have lost,’ she pursued, ‘ know anything of us? Do they realize all that we feel as we think of them? My mother’s face is always before me in the evening as I sit peacefully among her children, among our children, and they cluster round me, as they did round her.’
She went on in a voice soft and tender as the night it self. Goethe wondered if this unfamiliar melancholy were due to some strange foreboding. He felt the springing of his tears. The emotions he had tried to suppress seized him. Disregarding kestner’s presence, he seized Charlotte’s hand. What matter? It was the last day.
‘We must go in,’ she said gently; ‘it is time.’
She tried to withdraw her hand, but he held it forcibly.
‘Let us agree,’ said Kestner brightly, ‘ that the first of us three who dies shall send the two survivors news of the other world.’
‘We shall meet,’ said Goethe. ‘In whatever body, we shall meet. Farewell, Charlotte. Farewell, Kestner, we shall meet again.’
‘To-morrow, I suppose,’ she said with a smile.
She rose and turned toward the house with her fiancé. For a few seconds Goethe still saw the white gown gleaming in the shadows of the lindens, then everything faded. For some time after Kestner had gone the Doctor wandered alone in the lane from which the front of the house could be seen. He saw a window light up. It was in Lotte’s room. A little later the window grew black again. She was asleep. She knew nothing. Romance was satisfied.
The next day, when Kestner went to his house, he found a letter from Goethe: —
He has gone, Kestner; when you read this message, he will have gone. Give Lotte the note I enclose. I was adamant. Cut your words yesterday tortured me. For a while I can tell you nothing. Had I stayed with you a moment longer, I could not have borne it. Now I am alone and to-morrow I depart. Oh! My poor head!
Lotte, I do hope to come back, but only God knows when. Think what my heart suffered, Lotte, when you spoke! It knew I was looking on you for the last time. But I have gone. What led you to such a topic? . . . Now I am alone andean weep. I leave you happy, and I linger in your hearts. Yes, we shall meet. But to-morrow never comes. Say to my rascals, ‘He has gone.’ I cannot go on.
Early in the afternoon Kestner brought this letter to Lotte. All the children of the family echoed sadly, ‘Doctor Goethe has gone.'
Lotte was sad, and tears rose to her eyes as she read.
‘It is best that he should go,’ she said.
Kestner and she could talk of nothing but him.
Some visitors came. They were astonished at Goethe’s sudden departure and condemned his rudeness. Kestner hotly defended him.
(To be continued)