Sunday, November 06, 2005


‘Only little Schatzl who was approaching her twenty-fourth birthday remained with her father in their Munich house. She never ceased to offer him her kisses before she went to bed, as she understood how they brought him comfort. She also read him stories when he was ill and she used some considerable amount of her dowry with her father’s permission to restore the broken strings of his harpsichord.
‘I’m so pleased about that,’ said the voice from the sickbed the next morning. ‘I was wondering what had happened to the keyboard.’
‘Although the baron no longer played, his fingers having forgot the art, his little Schatzie would practise for hours and entertain him with the latest gavottes, minuets, sarabandes and other galanteries in the French or Italian style. Her eldest sister when she came to visit seemed to have grown more juvenile, while Schatzl acquired maturity and musicianship.
She told her father and all six of her older sisters that as there had been quite enough marriages in their family, she looked forward to being an old maid at twenty-five.
‘Very soon,’ she confided in her father,’ people will forget that I am NOT the oldest.’ And so with great happiness in her heart, she kissed her father goodnight after a spirited rondo and thanked God in her prayers that in twenty years time she would be wrinkled and old and nearly forty-five years a spinster who had escaped death in childbirth.'
‘I am suddenly feeling tired, Nan. Would you make sure you tell me the END of this story when you come again?’

I left the invalid with her eyes staring at the ceiling, contemplating her own ideas of the future - and I found myself feeling as pleased as Schatzl when I crept out the door. N.


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