Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Divertissement

Papa has been in such a foul mood - stomping around all day in the apartment, complaining to the empty cupboards and to me that my brother is a profligate nincompoop and an ungrateful numbskull - his crime to admire and no doubt lust after the soprano, Aloysia Weber.

‘So. Now my son is twenty-two years of age, in desperate need of a commission for an opera and professing LOVE like a demented pipsqueak for the eldest daughter of Herr Weber and his vulgar wife. Aieeeh!’ he cried as he wept some more. ‘And all for a ball of fluff with breasts like half-baked apples…to live then die as an EX-prodigy on a bed of straw with six or seven starving babies …’

‘Papa,’ I cried in an attempt to halt the flow. ‘You are expecting Baron Von Sonnenburg.’

But my dear father simply stared at the ceiling and shouted louder than before.

‘Where is your mother in all of this? Hmm? Does your brother FAIL to understand that when I die, HE has to provide for you and your poor Mama?’

I bowed my head and wondered if it were better to marry, but Papa rode over my thoughts.

‘Have you, Nannerl, not sacrificed your own savings so your brother may go to Paris and make OUR fortune?’ And I saw he addressed the portrait of Wolfie on the wall as if his image had become real.

‘Think on it my son, and never say that your sister is stingy!’
'True, true,' I cried aloud.

‘And what is more,’ he continued, still addressing the portrait, ‘I do not care that Mlle Weber has an excellent cantabile line. She may croak to the devil for all I care. She may be the prettiest or the ugliest of ALL her sisters. Snow-White she is NOT! I neither wish to know, nor know OF her. In short, aut Caesar, aut nihil. Pack your bags and get thee to Paris - with your poor mother.’

As I watched, dumbfounded by such ferocious passion, my father beat the wall in front of him for the climax of his rant:

‘Do NOT linger in Mannheim, my son. Do not return to Munich, Vienna or to Augsburg. Please remember how when you left Salzburg last that I was very ill but how I packed your bags until two o’clock in the morning - and then got up from my bed at six to say goodbye to you, weeping…’

At this point of paroxysm, I left the room to greet Baron Johannus von Sonnenburg and to ask after the health of his wife. N.

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