Your card yesterday gave me a great deal of pleasure, although it was rather melancholy. If only I could be with you now to make you laugh once more as I did that time after Karl’s arrest. Do you remember how we made everyone stare at us by the way we were laughing in the Cafe Fürstenhof? We had a jolly time, then, in spite of everything. Think how we used to drive in a motor car down Potsdamer Platz every morning, and on to the prison across the Tiergarten where the flowers were blooming, through the quiet Lehrter Strasse with its tall elms; then, on the way back, we made it a point of honour to get out at the Fürstenhof; after that, you had always to come to my place in the South End, where everything was in its May glory; next came the pleasant hours in my kitchen, where you and my little Mimi sat patiently waiting the achievements of my culinary skill. (Do you remember those runner beans I cooked after the French manner?)
Through all my memories of the time runs a vivid impression of the persistently brilliant and hot weather, the only sort of weather that gives a really joyful sense of spring.
In the evening, of course I had to visit you in my turn, to go to your dear little room. – I love you as a housewife, it suits you to perfection, standing at the table with your girlish figure, as you pour out the tea. Finally, towards midnight we used to see one another home through the dimly lighted, flower-scented streets. Can you recall that wonderful moonlit night in the South End, when I saw you home, how the gables, steeply silhouetted in black against the lovely deep blue of the night sky, resembled the battlements of feudal castles?
Sonyusha, if only I could always be with you, to take your mind off your troubles, sometimes talking and sometimes silent, so that I could keep you from unhappy brooding. In your card you ask: “Why do these things happen?” Dear child, life is like that, and always has been. Sorrow, and parting, and unsatisfied yearnings, are just a part of life. We have to take everything as it comes, and to find beauty in everything. That’s what I manage to do. Not from any profound wisdom, but simply because it is my nature. I feel instinctively that this is the only right way of taking life, and that is why I am truly happy in all possible circumstances. I would not spare anything out of my life, or have it different from what it has been and is. If only I could bring you to my way of looking at things...
But I haven’t thanked you yet for Karl’s photograph. I was so delighted to get it. You could not possibly have thought of a more lovely birthday present. He is on the table in a line frame and his eyes follow me about wherever I go. (You know how the eyes in some pictures seem to be looking at one wherever one is.) The likeness is excellent. How pleased Karl must be at the news from Russia. But you have good reason to rejoice too, for now there is nothing to hinder your mother from coming to see you. Had you thought of that? For your sake I do so long for sunshine and warmth. Here the buds have not opened yet, and yesterday we had sleet. How far is the spring advanced in my “southern landscape” in the South End of Berlin? Last year at this time we were standing together at the garden gate and you were admiring the wealth of flowers ...
Don’t trouble about writing. I shall often write to you, but I shall be quite satisfied if you send me a postcard now and then.
Have you got my little Botanist’s Guide with you? Don’t worry, darling; everything will come out all right, you’ll see.
Last updated on: 18.12.2008