zondag 21 september 2014

Annaliebe von Alvensleben -- 20 september 1793

Annaliebe von Alvensleben was een Duitse aristocrate. Dagboekfragmenten van haar zijn opgenomen in The memoirs of the Baroness Cecile de Courtot, lady-in-waiting to the Princess de Lamballe, Princess of Savoy-Carignan

September 18, 1793.
Oh, my timid little birdie — my poor, poor Cecile ! How I thank Heaven now that I decided to receive her. Alas, what terrible misery there is in the world ! When I helped the dear creature out of the coach at Magdeburg and met those piteous, deeply sorrowful eyes that gazed at me half vacantly and yet with such a wistful hungering for love, a world of tenderness filled my heart for the hapless girl. My arms opened of themselves, I drew her to me and mingled my tears with hers as she lay weeping on my bosom. From that moment, she won my love, my whole soul went out to her and called her sister, and when Cecile — for that is her sweet and musical name — whispered in her broken German, " Du Gute, du Liebe, du ! " I caught with delight the sound of the dear familiar thou and at once determined in my newly awakened affection to use the same address with her.
And how quite, quite different she is from what I had pictured ! I expected, from what I knew of her previous history, to find a spoiled grande dame who would have great difficulty in accustoming herself to our simple country life; and instead, here is a shy and gentle girl, who with her dark eyes and beautiful features looks younger than I, although she says she is 30. These dark eyes, with their black eyebrows and lashes, form a most peculiarly attractive contrast to her reddish fair hair. How bewitching she must have been when those lovely eyes could laugh — now they look as if they had long forgotten how. Grief has already graven her runic lines on the white brow and woven a silver thread or two among the beautiful tresses, and the piteous little mouth is ever drawn as if on the point of weeping. Her whole appearance is so inexpressibly affecting that I can scarce restrain my tears whenever I look at her. And the gratitude of the sweet soul ! Her eyes are for- ever seeking mine, and she cannot bear me to leave her side. My Werner is quite jealous of her, and says the stranger is drawing me away from him. Oh, you dear, foolish fellow, as if anything in the world could draw me away from you! However, it is devoutly to be hoped that she will soon be quite restored to health.

Two days later. [20 september 1793]
I am half afraid that Cecile is going to be seriously ill ! It would not be surprising considering all she has gone through in the last few months. The symptoms are bad — she sleeps very little and, do what I will, I cannot persuade her to eat more than a mouthful now and then. She simply sits with her hands in her lap, silent and brooding, gazing into the far distance.
Over and over again in these sunny autumn days I have begged her to come down into the garden with me, but in vain — she is tired, she says, and cannot be induced to leave her low armchair at the window. She broods and broods, and the tearless eyes have at times a glassy stare as if they saw some dreadful sight.

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